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..