Article Written by Diana Lovejoy
Backyard Crop Rotation
One of the ways that organic gardeners can create a sustainable garden at home is by seasonally rotating their crops. Crop rotation is planting something different in your backyard raised bed veggie garden every season. This cycle disrupts weed and pest activity, helps eliminate soil-borne diseases and aids soil fertility by growing crops with different nutrient needs. It also improves soil structure by alternating shallow-rooted crops with deep-rooted ones.
In a small container garden, crops can be rotated from one raised bed to another raised bed, planter box, or large container to ensure that members of the same family are not grown in the same bed in consecutive years. Do not rotate cabbage with broccoli, as both are in the brassica family, but rotate the entire family of crops, like from winter squash to carrots, from brassicas to legumes, from onions to corn. The reason for rotating is to plant crops that feed the soil, like legumes, after harvesting heavy feeders, like tomatoes, that take nutrients out of the soil. Plant a cover crop in the rotation to create happy healthy soil.
However, perennials, like asparagus or artichokes, do not like to be rotated and prefer compost to be added to improve the soil. Asparagus grows better when basil and parsley are interplanted with them. Fruit trees also like herbs for companion plants, such as garlic, nasturtium, lavender, and comfrey, to help suppress weeds, discourage pests, keep moisture in the soil, and add nutrients.
Get bigger harvests by planting root crops before legumes, grain crops after legumes, cabbage family crops after onions, and potatoes after corn. For example, in the same raised bed plant broccoli in winter, beans in the spring, and onions in autumn. Gardeners can group their favorite crops into plant families and rotate the different families each season.
Organic gardeners can grow an organic veggie garden in their backyard and provide their family with a sustainable city living plan. Seasonal crop rotation can add interest and color to the yard throughout the year, as well as prevent attacks from pests and diseases, deter weeds, maintain soil fertility, minimize deficiencies, and allow the soil to replenish.