Crop rotation is an essential element to organic farming/gardening, and creating a garden map is the easiest way to remember where your plants were and when. Recently, Deni taught me how to create a map using Excel (it’s real easy, email me if you would like me to teach you!). As you can see in the picture below, I have crops color coordinated by type.. greens, legumes, cucurbits, brassica, nightshade, root, etc.
Ideally, we don’t want any intersection of these types of crops in the same beds for a three year period, but most of our gardens are too small to accomplish this and we’ll aim for 3-4 seasons. In our garden, our crops are moving counter-clockwise. So our spinach (marked in green), for instance, will move one row down, where we currently are propagating our cover crops winter wheat/winter pea mix.
So what are the benefits of crop rotation? Why bother? Well, different veggies take and give different nutrients to and from the soil. Each responds to a different fertilization pattern. Monoculture, or growing a single crop in a given area, also encourages pest problems; this is because the pest organisms specific to a crop can multiply when that crop is grown in the same place year after year. Weeds are similar, as they can find a favorable niche within a given crop – and rotating confuses them, making it more unlikely a pesky weed will sprout up again (Eliot Coleman, The New Organic Grower, pg. 52-54). So the key benefits are…
- They help to control pests and diseases
- They help to maintain soil fertility
- They help to maintain soil organic matter levels and soil structure
- They ensure that enough nutrients are available to different crops each year
To anyone planning to cultivate their soil for years to come, crop rotation is essential & mapping makes it easier to accomplish this properly!
Have a mindful day..