Crop rotation is a practice, an intentional planting sequence, in which specific families of crops follow another, carried out over multiple growing seasons.
Crop rotations improve yields by depositing missing nutrients into the soil, reducing weed pressure and decreasing insect population. In order to avoid these problems, practicing crop rotation is a must.
Most home gardeners might not consider implementing this practice since backyard gardeners usually plant what they like to consume. This way doesn’t take into account the concept of crop rotation. This can easily lead to problems. Constantly planting the same vegetables in the same spots, season after season, it's no wonder backyard gardeners often experience problems. Following this is a surefire way to end up with soil problems, lack of fertility, diseases, and pest. Certain pests feast on certain families so without crop rotation, the pest population will explode and seem almost uncontrollable.
Now don't let this concept intimidate you. It is relatively easy just follow the simple rule; Do not plant the same crop in the same spot year after year. When all else fails and you do not know what to plant next, you can always plant crops from the legume family. Legume family consists of; beans, peas, lentils, peanut, soybean, edamame, garbanzo bean, fava bean, hairy
vetch, vetches, alfalfa, clovers, and cowpeas. Knowing the plant families is imperative when it comes to crop rotation. Read about plant families here.
To begin with crop rotation you're going to need a way to record what you plant where. This is why I keep a gardening journal. I know a lot of people try to go off of memory but this is a 4-year plan. I have trouble remembering what I was doing 4 days ago so I could only imagine trying to remember what I planted in each bed from 4 years ago.
Some crops are heavy feeders and deplete the nutrients from the soil. Others are light feeders and have little effect on nutrient levels while others rebuild soils
Heavy Feeders-corn, soybeans, tomato, potatoes, most vegetables
Light Feeders- wheat, barley, oats
Soil builders- Legumes; pea, bean, alfalfa, clover
Year 1- Heavy feeders
Year 2- Root Crops
Year 3- Cole Crops
Year 4- Legumes/ Leafy Greens
Remember the plant families
Remember there is no exact science to this. The goal is to move everything around and help rebuild soils. Some people use 3-year plans and I have even talked to people who use 7-year plans! You need a large garden for the 7-year plan. GOALS!!