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Vegetable Crop Rotation

Garden bedsCrop rotation will benefit vegetable crops in two ways: first, it will prevent the build-up of soil-borne pests and diseases; second, it will allow for the replenishment and efficient use of soil nutrients.

Crop rotation is the practice of growing different crops, rather than the same vegetable or members of the same family of vegetables, in the same place each year.

To minimize pest and disease problems and to help renew soil nutrients, members of the same plant family should not be planted in the same part of the garden more than once every three or four years.

Vegetable insect pests tend to feed on similar plants and members of the same plant family. For example, an insect pest that attacks and eats cabbage will lay its eggs before it dies. If cabbage or a member of the cabbage family is planted in the same spot the next year, the eggs of the insect will hatch and the pests will find exactly the food they need to continue the pest life cycle. Soilborne diseases–fungi, bacteria, and viruses–also can be hosted by specific plants as well. Removing host plants or alternating unrelated plants into the garden can break the cycle of pests and disease.

Crop rotation also helps prevent soil nutrients from being depleted. Vegetables draw upon a wide range of soil nutrients for growth: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are the key or major soil nutrients. Members of the same vegetable family usually draw the same nutrients from the soil.

Crop rotation will prevent the soil from wearing out: heavy nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium feeding crops such as tomatoes are rotated with soil-building crops such as beans which add nitrogen to the soil and then with light-feeding crops such as onions.

Major plant families and some notes on crop rotation:

Onion Family (Amaryllis Family, Amaryllidaceae): Garlic, onions, leeks, shallots. These are light feeders. Plant these after heavy feeders or after soil enrichers such as beans.
Cabbage Family (Brassica, Cruciferae): Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, collards, cress, kale, kohlrabi, radishes, turnips. These are heavy feeders. These crops should follow legumes. After these crops allow the garden to go fallow for a season or plant a cover crop or add plenty of compost and organic matter to the garden.
Lettuce Family (Composite, Daisy Family, Asteraceae): Artichokes, chicory, endive, lettuce. These are heavy feeders. Follow these crops with legumes.
Beet Family (Goosefoot Family, Chenopodiaceae): Beets, spinach, Swiss chard. These are heavy feeders. Follow these crops with legumes.
Grass Family (Graminae): Grains–corn, oats, rye, wheat. Follow these crops with members of the tomato or Solanaceae family.
Bean Family (Legume, Leguminosae): Beans and peas, clover, vetch. These crops enrich the soil, soil builders. Plant these crops before or after any other crop family with one exception–do not plant beans after onions.
Tomato Family (Nightshade Family, Solanaceae): Eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes. These crops are heavy feeders. Plant these crops after members of the grass family. Follow these crops with legumes.
Squash Family (Cucurbitaceae): Cucumbers, melons, summer and winter squash, pumpkins, watermelon. These crops are heavy feeders. Plant these crops after members of the grass family. Follow these crops with legumes.
Carrot Family (Umbellifer Family, Umbelliferae): Carrots, celery, anise, coriander, dill, fennel, parsley. These are light to medium feeders. These crops can follow any other group. Follow these crops with legumes, onions, or let the garden sit fallow for a season.

You can use the notes above to accomplish crop rotation or you can simplify the rotation as follows:

Simple Four-Year Crop Rotation Plan:

To follow a simple four-year crop rotation, divide your garden into four areas or plots: Plot One, Plot Two, Plot Three, and Plot Four. In each of the next four years, grow a different crop or different members of the four crop families in a different plot following this rotation:

• Plot One: Tomato family (year 1); Others–see list below (year 2); Bean family (year 3–but avoid planting beans where onion family crops have just grown); Cabbage family (year 4).
• Plot Two: Cabbage family (year 1); Tomato family (year 2); Others–see list below (year 3); Bean family (year 4–but avoid planting beans where onion family crops have just grown).
• Plot Three: Bean family (year 1–but avoid planting beans where onion family crops have just grown); Cabbage family (year 2); Tomato family (year 3); Others–see list below (year 4).
• Plot Four: Others–see list below (year 1); Bean family (year 2–but avoid planting beans where onion family crops have just grown); Cabbage family (year 3); Tomato family (year 4).

This four-year crop rotation intersperses members of the other vegetable families among members of the Tomato, Bean, and Cabbage families, and Others. Here is how they are grouped:

1. Tomato Family and others (Solanaceae family)

Tomatoes
Peppers
Eggplant
Potatoes
Beets
Carrots
Celeriac and celery
Parsnips
Salsify
Scorzonera

2. Bean Family (Leguminosae family)

Peas
Broad (fava) beans
French (green) beans
Runner beans

3. Cabbage Family and others (Brassica family)

Broccoli
Brussels sprouts
Cabbages
Calabrese (Italian sprouting broccoli)
Cauliflowers
Radishes
Rutabagas (Swedes)
Turnips

4. Others

Sweet corn
Squashes, zucchini, and pumpkins (marrow and courgettes)

Lettuces

Garlic–avoid planting beans in the same location after garlic
Leeks–avoid planting beans in the same location after leeks
Onions–avoid planting beans in the same location after onions
Shallots–avoid planting beans in the same location after shallots

Perennial Vegetables
Not included in crop rotation are perennial vegetable crops that grow in the same spot for several years in a row. Perennial crops include:
Asparagus
Globe artichokes
Jerusalem artichokes
Perennial herbs
Rhubarb
Seakale

Small garden crop rotation:

No garden is too small for crop rotation. A simple garden map showing where each crop is planted will help you plan and plant a different crop in that spot next year. To plan crop rotation in a small garden, map out strips or blocks–rows or square feet–and avoid planting vegetables from the same crop family in that spot more than once every three years.

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94 Comments

  1. Steve Albert, you are my kind of man. I have always enjoyed back yard gardening over the years, but now that I have retired to a homestead farm it is time to take a more scientific approach to high yield organic gardening. This is a very well thought out and easy to read and follow blog. It will be treasured and shared as long as we both shall live. Lol

      • Steve I have cucumber plants in pots in my garden. A friend told me after the produce is gone and the leaves start to die off that I could pull out the plants and place a second crop, say legumes, after adding some compost or chicken manure.
        Do you have any thoughts on this? Suggestions?
        Many thanks. Ellen

        • If the cucumber harvest to done and the plants are finished, yes remove them. Bush beans are a good follow up crop. If the pots are not large it would be best to replant with new soil. If the pots are large, renew the soil with commercial organic planting mix–which will be well-drained and formulated for containers. Avoid chicken manure in a container; it is high in nitrogen and the nitrogen may be too concentrated in a small space for the new crop.

  2. Hi Steve, thanks for the excellent presentation, clear and useful. I live in southern Chile, latitude 42 and despite global warming, tomatoes still do better in the greenhouse. How can I crop rotate inside the greenhouse, since beans really don’t go in there? Or should I just enrich the soil with compost after tomato harvest? (It’s a very small greenhouse). Thanks so much!

    • Yes, simply enrich the soil after each crop. Adding aged compost or a rich planting or potting mix will give each crop the nutrients needed to succeed. Should you have a crop failure in the greenhouse and you suspect a bacterial or viral disease, then replace all of the soil immediately.

  3. Legumes and onions are not companion plants and there’s such a strong scent of garlic and onions left behind in the soil. When I followed an onion bed with beans, the beans died!

  4. I love this tutorial, but wish you’d edit it so the detailed lists of plants in Families were listed in the SAME ORDER as the recommended rotation. Ex: 1. Tomatoes, 2. Others, 3. Beans, 4. Cabbage. It would just help the narrative flow of the article, and help cement the info in readers’ brains.

  5. I love this site. Just moved to a farm we have 2 small kids and I had no idea how much went into having a garden! I can’t wait to pass on all this information to another generation. I just have 1 question, where do vining melons belong in this rotation? Thanks

    • Avoid planting beans in the same planting bed where onion family crops have just grown. In this rotation, onion family crops are included in the “Other” plants rotation–beside onion family plants the Others include sweet corn, squashes, zucchini, and pumpkins (marrow and courgettes), and lettuces. Root crops including members of the onion family can follow beans and other legumes.

    • Crop rotation in a small garden is difficult. Disease pathogens can be slowed and stopped by 2-3 year crop rotations, but that means planting crops considerable distance apart–not just a few yards. Rotation is important to prevent pathogen population build up in the soil particularly when onions are being grown commercially. In the home garden, rotating crops just a few feet away each year, will not stop diseases once they take hold in garden soil. If downy mildew or purple blotch disease attack your onions, don’t grow onions or onion family crops in that location for 3 years. If the garden is small, keep the soil healthy by feeding the soil aged compost twice a year. Lay down a 2-3 inch sheet of aged compost across the planting beds and turn it under. This is the best defense against disease in the home garden.

  6. Thank so much for sharing all this information. It was very helpful. I was planning on planting cabbage after my garlic harvest…Still not sure if it would be to hard on the soil planting cabbage after the garlic in the same season…

    • In practice, onion family crops–including garlic–is often grouped with legumes (bean family). Cabbage family can follow legumes and onion family. Enrich the planting bed throughout the growing season by side-dressing plants with aged compost–that way you will be renewing the soil all season long.

  7. Steve Good day need some info on crop rotation I have limeted space and need to know the best rotation on beet rotation/cabbage (Approx: 1.5 ha to be planted)

    • Here is a 4-year crop rotation using four plots:
      Plot One
      Year 1: Tomato family (include root crops such as carrots and beets)
      Year 2: Onion family
      Year 3: Legume family (bean family crops)
      Year 4: Brassica family (cabbage family crops)

      Plot Two
      Year 1: Brassica family
      Year 2: Tomato family
      Year 3: Onion family
      Year 4: Legume family

      Plot Three
      Year 1: Legume family
      Year 2: Brassica family
      Year 3: Tomato family
      Year 4: Onion family

      Plot Four
      Year 1: Onion family
      Year 2: Legume family
      Year 3: Brassica family
      Year 4: Tomato family

        • Onions are best planted after beans. Onions are light feeders and will benefit from the soil-building attributes of beans. In an ideal rotation grow heavy feeders such as tomatoes, then soil builders such as beans, and then light feeders such as onions. For those who practice and adhere to the traditions of companion planting (which is based on anecdotal evidence, not scientific study) onions and beans (and peas) are thought to be antagonists; they are best not planted together. Companion planters believe onions and beans stunt or negatively affect the growth of the other.

  8. Hello, I inherited my wife’s family farm here in Japan a few years ago and have had a crash course in gardening. Her grandfather made his living as a farmer, so it is a fairly extensive operation. Where we live it is possible to garden year-round as the winters are very mild, which is new to me since I grew up in the hills of NY, where the growing season is fairly short. Because it is possible to garden year-round, I have been doing two plantings a year, one in the late winter/early spring, and another in September and October. I’ve basically been winging it until now as far as crop rotation goes, but after having a couple of less than stellar harvests, I would like to take a more scientific approach to things. Anyway, what I want to ask is since I can grow two crops on the same plot in one year, should I plant the same family of vegetables on the same plot and then rotate to something different the following year, or would it be better to rotate every time I do a new planting? I have 7 different plots (gardens) to use, none of which are large by U.S. standards, but there is more than enough to keep me busy.

    Thanks for your help, I really enjoy the blog

    • The best rotation would be NOT to repeat crops from the same family each new planting season–you have two planting seasons per year; do not repeat crops from the same plant family as has just grown; that is a new rotation each planting. Crop rotation reduces soilborne diseases and insects specific to certain crops and plant families. Don’t plant crops from the same family in the same spot year after year–or in your garden, season after season. Crop rotation also helps renew the soil. Leafy and fruiting crops are heavy users of soil nitrogen. Root vegetables and herbs are lighter feeders. Peas, beans, and other legumes build the soil by adding nitrogen. Follow soil building crops with heavy feeders—such as tomatoes and leafy crops; follow heavy feeders with a root crop or another soil builder or a green manure crop.

      • Thank you for this information.

        However, I am confused by this comment. If there can be multiple plantings in the same spot each year, you recommend NOT planting from the same family in successive seasons within a year. What about the following years? Is the critical factor that plantings alternate between families, that there is a certain amount of time between plantings of the same family, or both?

        For instance, imagine I have two beds, bed 1 and bed 2. Imagine also there are two planting seasons each year. If I rotate between families within a year, I could plant families A and B in bed 1 and families C and D in bed 2 in the first year. In year 2, I assume I could plant families C and D in bed 1 and families A and B in bed 2. What happens in year 3? Could I plant any of families A, B, C, or D in either bed 1 or bed 2? If the key factor is just number of plantings from different families, I’d say yes. But if time (no more than once every 3 years, no matter the number of intervening plantings) is the key factor, then I’d say no. With three plantings a year (for example, including cover crops, of which there are few families available in many places), it gets even more complex. If both number of intervening plantings and time are key factors, you could quickly get to a point where you couldn’t plant anything and still adhere to the rotation rules.

        Could you please help clarify this matter?

        • The goal of crop rotation is to not deplete the soil of nutrients and to feed the soil whenever possible.
          Crop rotation was developed before the advent of commercial fertilizers and was used on farms where fields were planted with single crops. A mono-crop can deplete a field of nutrients if the same field is planted year-after-year with the same crop. Some crops are heavy feeders (fruiting vegetables), some are light feeders (leafy crops and roots), and some give back to the soil (legumes). Generally, crops of the same plant family feed the same (though that is not a fast rule). In the home garden, crop rotation can be difficult; there is simply not a lot of room to move crop families around and most home gardeners do not practice mono-cropping–they have several vegetables growing in the same planting bed. The best course of action (as you see repeated in articles on Harvesttotable.com) is to feed the soil; add an inch or two of aged compost (or commercial organic planting mix) across all planting beds twice a year. If you feed the soil regularly, then you need to rotate crops only when disease strikes a crop–after that do not plant crops from the same family in that bed for 3 to 4 years.

          • Thank you for your further information. Composting is already part of my routine. I can rotate by planting or by year, and would like to try to rotate as extra insurance against problems arising. In your opinion, which is more important — the number of seasons (in places where more than one planting in a year can occur) between plantings of the same family or the number of years between plantings of the same family? If I rotated on a yearly basis, my spring and summer plantings for a bed would be from the same family.

          • If you are planting succession crops in one season–that is two or more crops in the same bed in the course of one year or season–then the best practice would be to sidedress each planting with aged compost or a low nitrogen organic fertilizer; then at the end of the growing year go ahead and rotate a new plant family to the planting bed for the coming season. Succession plantings in one year will not overtax of the soil of nutrients as long as you feed the soil at each planting.

  9. Hi what family group would okra be classified under? when I looked online it said it was a heavy feeder and in the mallow family just not sure what that would translate too. Thanks for any reply you can give

    • For the purposes of rotation, treat okra like you would peppers (a different plant family, however). It would be a heavy feeder–requiring a fertilizer along the lines of 5-10-10; low on nitrogen and high on phosphorus which helps fruit/pod formation. You will want to rotate soil-nutrient building legumes into the planting bed following the season you grow okra.

    • Basil and other herbs are usually grown as additions to home vegetable garden planting beds; they are usually not grown as main crops. Basil does not have to fit in to a rotation. However, to include it in a rotation place it with other leafy crops such as lettuce or spinach.

  10. So is there anything besides carrots that I can plant after onion and garlic?.I see beans but above you stated no…I’m just not a big carrot fan

    • Onions and garlic are light feeders. After light feeders you can plant more light feeders–chard, peppers, turnips, parsnip, sweet potatoes, mustard greens or a soil builder such as peas or peanuts.

    • Rotation of crops is somewhat dependent on the size of your garden. If you have dedicated beds–meaning you grow specific crops in designated beds–you can easily rotate to the next crop–a light, moderate or heavy feeder–in the order you determine. If your garden is very small, you can rotate specific plants into specific spaces to achieve rotation. If the garden is small adding aged compost on a regular basis will renew the soil and rotation will be less essential. If you live in a mild winter region where there are few freezes you can plant onions and garlic in the fall for spring harvest. If you live in a cold winter region where the ground freezes in winter plant garlic and onions next spring.

      • Hey Steve…some great advise….re: planting Garlic in the fall…I live at 1100 feet in Upstate N.Y. …we get very harsh winters with hard freezes and snow… have always planted our garlic in late fall for the following late June early July harvest….never had any problems and our ground freezes hard as a rock…..you definitely will get bigger bulbs if you plant in the fall as opposed to Spring….I do cover the planted rows with leaves or spent straw….each Spring it amazes me when I see it pop out of the ground…..one hardy vegetable !!!!!

      • I have 2 gardens, usually plant tomatoes in same garden every year I live in NJ where ground freezes in winter, is it ok to plant peppers and egg plants where tomatoes were

        • These plants use many of the same nutrients; if you had not soil-borne disease problem in the last couple of year, you can plant in the same bed, but be sure to renew the soil before you do; add aged compost or commercial organic planting mix to the beds to add nutrients.

  11. Of the very, very many Google searches I’ve done to gain wisdom about succession planting I am glad to finally have found this post. Between the OP and reading your replies to commenters there has been so much easy to understand and useful information! Thank you!!! We have a very small garden (about 10′ x 20′ and try to do a lot of vertical gardening to maximize space so with structures we’ve implemented we have the equivalent of six ‘beds’. It is challenging to rotate and succession plant in such a small space and also to utilize crop varieties that can be grown vertically. Two must-grows every year are garlic and snap beans which present trouble trying with rotations. Thank you for the information and encouragement.

  12. Thanks so much Mr Steve. i actually find this piece very educative and quite instructive because i’m planning to go into cucumber farming somewhere in Lagos Nigeria and planning to do this on 6 to 8 acres. the plan is to divide the land into 2 acres per planting period. But my question is, considering the mature period of between 40-45 days, can one still plant the next batch of cucumber on the same plot after that harvest since its not up to a year you talked about for crop rotation or another crop be planted after that 45 days and plant the next batch of cucumber on the next 2 acres of land?

    • Yes, you can plant your succession crop on the same plot as long as your first crop has not been hit by a soilborne disease. Fungal spores can drop to the soil and remain there for months and months waiting to attack the next crop. So if disease has been a problem, rotate your next planting to another growing area. If disease is not a problem, be sure to feed the soil between crops. Add aged compost and manure to renew the soil (or a commercial organic planting mix). The most important ingredient to successful growing is taking care of the soil.

  13. How can you get an “award” when you post misleading imformation?, garlic and onions aren’t in the Amaryllis family, there from the Allium family, Amaryllis are perennial flowers…

    • Onions belong to the Amaryllidaceae family.
      Allium is the Genus name; the family name is Amaryllidaceae.
      The botanical name for the onion is Allium cepa; cepa indicates the species.
      The perennial flower amaryllis is also a member of the Amaryllidaceae family.

  14. as I’m planning my garden for summer, the crop rotation for nightshades is tricky. I mostly grow nightshades in the summer, so how am I suppose to rotate them from year to year to keep things healthy? I have 4 plots of land- one with tomatoes, the second with okra & squash, the third with beans, eggplants and peppers, and the last with cucumbers. If I grew all nightshades in one area, I wouldn’t have room for much. And the rest of my garden would be empty. HELP! How can I do this well?

    • Your garden has 4 plant families Malavacea (okra), Cucurbitaceae (cucumbers and squash), Leguminosae (bean), and Solenaceae (eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes). If you want to follow a strict family rotation then you would grow each family in a different bed–as you know. Since following a strict rotation would leave empty spots in the garden, your best course of action is to renew the soil after each season so that the soil nutrients are not exhausted. If a soilborne disease strikes one of your crops, then be sure that you do not plant other crops from that plant family in that location again for three years. Crop rotation in a small garden is difficult. If you take care of your soil–feed it plenty of aged compost and aged manure in the offseason–and remove diseased plants immediately, you can grow successfully without a strict rotation.

  15. Hi Steve, I would like use your crop rotation outline for our home vegetable garden. I noticed that the Beet Family was not included in the rotation and I wondered if I should substitute it in for another heavy feeding group such as the Cabbage Family?
    We would like to plant both chard and beets but are not sure where they would work best in the rotation. We did have a problem with our chard last year with something eating the leaves but we could not identify the bug.

    Thanks for your help and for the template.

    • Take a look at pages 148-149 in the Vegetable Garden Almanac and Planner (link: https://amzn.to/3bjLf44 )
      There are several ways to rotate beets into the garden. Beets can be included with both the light and medium feeders. Place them with the light feeders if you are doing a 3-year rotation. Place them with the medium feeders if you are doing a 4-year rotation. If you rotate your garden by harvest groups include beets with the root vegetables. If you rotate by plant family they will included with the spinach family which are medium feeders.

    • Yes, as long as the pumpkins were healthy and showed no sign of disease. Amend the soil where the pumpkins grew by adding aged compost or commercial organic planting mix–these will feed the soil and feed the melons you grow this year.

  16. I knew you should rotate where certain things were planted every year. I’m hoping with my new found knowledge that I’ve read here i can produce more vegetables. I give 90% of my crops to woman’s shelters. Since vegetables can be so expensive this helps them cut costs.

    • If rotation is difficult, feed the soil with aged compost or commercial organic planting mix and aged cow manure ahead of planting. This is a good alternative as long as there has been no disease in the soil.

  17. I have a set of 20” (top) x 14” (depth) containers. I have 5 crop short season (45-70 day) groups
    Broccoli
    Spinach
    Snap Peas
    Lettuce (Ice erg or Romaine)
    Carrot, Celery, & Shallots
    Zone 10b, Southern California.
    My plan is to start 5 containers, one with each group every month and harvest after 90 days. I can get an “extra month” by starting in trays for some of these crops. I have, where possible, a warm weather variety and a cold weather one as well. In some cases I may add or use extra space for herbs or a green mulch. If a crop ends early, I can start the next early or just rest the container. If a little longer time is needed I try to start the next one with a really fast grower, or variety where “baby greens” are an option. Since they are containers I can take out soil and amend any time. My thought is to renew 50% after the carrots.

    I have 4 regular large raised beds for long season things and 7 large trees to provide plenty of mulch and compost so I can amend as needed. I try to use your rotation scheme for those.

    Any suggestions on the order of crops? Issues I am not seeing?
    I put the broccoli after spinach for the months where I’ll be growing malabar and it can go long when it’s too warm for broccoli.

    Thanks for all of your great posts.

  18. 1. What group are tomatillos in? The tomato group?
    2. If someone doesn’t grow grains, is there another way to divide groups?
    3. I didn’t know not to grow beans after garlic, but they are exceedingly larger than usual this year. They are in raised beds, and we did add sokl amendments, so maybe ok?
    4. Not even beans have grown where we had cauliflower, broccoli or collards, even with amended soil (all raised beds). But fennel is finally coming up there. Can chard, carrots or beets be grown with fennel? Or maybe parsley? I usually keep these crops under row covers all winter in SE USA.

    • 1. Tomatillos should be grouped with tomatoes in crop rotation.
      2. There are several ways to rotate crops. This article might help if you are not growing corn or grains: https://harvesttotable.com/crop-rotation-in-small-vegetable-garden/
      3. For gardeners who amend the soil after each growing season and where there is no disease among plants or in the soil, crop rotation is less important. Feed the soil with aged compost, aged manure, and organic planting mixes and rotation is less important.
      4. Chard carrots and beets can be grown near fennel. If the soil was heavily depleted of nitrogen after growing broccoli, cauliflower and collards, sprinkle an all-purpose 10-10-10 or 10-15-15 organic fertilizer across the planting bed before planting the next crops.

  19. Hello! I was wondering what family soy beans belong in and when would be a good time to plant them? I live in a cold climate so I’m not sure if they’d endure that.

  20. Steve, can you explain the science behind the “antagonistic” relationship between onions and beans such that beans should not follow the onion group in a rotation? I have read this repeatedly, so I assume the evidence is more than anecdotal. I have very little science background (liberal arts colleges), and although I don’t regret my education in the least, I now wish fervently that I knew more about soil biology and, for that matter, animal science (I have livestock as pets). I figure you can help me with the first.

    I’m certain I won’t grasp every nuance of what you say, but I would like the opportunity to try, anyway.

    Thanks.

    • Great question. There is no science behind companion planting. Companion planting recommendations–and conversely crops that are not friendly to one another–is based on anecdote and years of observation by gardeners. Much of companion planting is passed down wisdom. The ag experts at Cornell University have weighed in on the topic; see this link http://chemung.cce.cornell.edu/resources/companion-planting
      You will search high and low and find few if any scientific papers regarding companion planting. That is likely the reason terms like “friends” and “antagonists” or “enemies” are used to describe companion plant relationships–it’s a personification of what human gardeners have observed. All of that said; it is likely that onions should not follow beans because beans set nitrogen and onion bulb development requires phosphorus much more than it needs nitrogen; nitrogen will induce leafy growth. Both beans and onions prefer slightly acidic soil, 6.0-6.5; perhaps onion crop residue leaves a chemical behind that beans do not like; but, again, there is no science to affirm this.

  21. Wondering about cutting flowers in all of this – where would they fit into the rotation? Also, if i want to get two rounds out of the garden, do you suggest doing the rotation at that point, or waiting until after the winter? Thanks for this article – makes things super simple.

    • Cutting flowers and flowering herbs are often placed to the side of the planting beds, not included in the rotation. However, there are many flowers that are members of the carrot family, they could be included with carrots in the rotation. In a small garden, crop rotation can be difficult; yearly rotation may be the best strategy; during the season, between crops, renew the soil with aged compost or commercial organic planting mix.

  22. Hi,

    Very helpful. I have one question though. How can you incorporate seed saving into a crop rotation plan? From what I understand things like carrot and onions will only seed on their second year so how do you factor that into the rotation?

    Thanks,
    John.

    • To harvest seed you will need to let the plants flower and set seed; this will happen the second year in the garden for carrots. So you need to set aside a section of the garden or planting rows for plants to go to seed. That bed or portion of the garden will come out of crop rotation until the seeds are harvested. Remember you can only harvest seed from open-pollinated varieties.

  23. Hi steve Albert.

    I want to start planting baby marrows. What will b the best crop rotation with it? How long can i plant baby marrow on the same ground for?
    Theres another farmer who farms baby marrow. But he leases land for 1 or 2 years and plants his marrow. But after that 1 or 2 years the land stood for 3 years and my uncle planted beans everyting grew fine but no seeds in the pods.
    I just want 2 findout how to grow it woth the best crop rotation.
    Im from south africa

    • Marrows are heavy feeders; they should be followed by soil builders. Marrows should be preceded by light feeders. This would be a three-year rotation. In a four-year rotation, include marrows with fruiting crops, followed by legumes, followed by leafy crops, followed by root crops.

  24. Hello,

    Thank you for your article. I have fairly large raised beds. Would it be okay to rotate crops to the other side of the bed rather than changing beds completely, or is changing beds the preferred method? In other words, if I planted peppers last year on the left side of a large bed, could I put tomatoes in that spot this year? Or would it be better to plant the tomatoes in an entirely different raised bed?

    • It is difficult to practice strict crop rotation in a small garden. If you had no significant pests or diseases in the bed then follow the strategy you have outlined. Add lots of aged compost or commercial organic planting mix to your beds; this will renew the nutrients in the soil. If a particular crop has had a disease or pest problem the past year or two, plant the new crops in a different bed.

  25. THANK YOU!!! I’m not even sure if that’s enough. I’m a backyard gardener (small garden) in North TX – a new concept for me as I grew up with my Dad’s victory garden in Central WI. I’m currently using a plant app that tells you what to grow and when based on your zip code. But THIS….this will help me in my path to better backyard gardening. I will be able to cross reference you list of plants with my app and have a better understanding of what to garden AND when.

  26. Can I plant peppers the year after zucchini plants? I’m newish to farming and this year I planted a packet of zucchini seeds… which looks like it’s going to be 10 plants or more. So basically my whole garden is zucchini (whoops!). I don’t like legumes or lettuce. Could I plant tomatoes and peppers next year?

    • Zucchini and squash and tomatoes and peppers are all heavy feeders; they draw a lot of nutrients from the soil. If you want to plant tomatoes and peppers after zucchini, be sure to enrich the soil after your harvest this year. Add lots of aged compost or commercial organic planting mix and spring the soil with an all-purpose organic fertilizer. This will prepare the soil for another crop of heavy feeders next year.

  27. I understand yearly rotation, but am confused with same year rotation. For example, arugula should I just keep sowing seeds in the same pot for continued hopeful harvest or turn soil, fertilize and plant bush beans or carrots. Next 3 years avoid whatever was planted in that pot unless I completely remove all soil and sterilize pot.

    • If you are growing in containers, be sure to feed the soil every 2 weeks with an all-purpose liquid fertilizer (you can use a dilute solution of fish emulsion). Do this through the growing season. If there is no sign of disease, you can use the same soil throughout the season–freshen it with new soil between plantings. There is no need to rotate crops in containers in the same season as long as there are no signs of disease.

  28. I’m planning on building a large greenhouse for year round planting. I like the idea of companion planting, and am considering putting plants from many or most of the families together in the same bed. I also plan on adding compost after each planting, and having inground worm farms in each bed. I’m hoping this will confuse pests, and keep the soil continually well fed. Is this a reasonable plan?

    • Sounds like a reasonable plan. You may want to have more than one bed. If a soil-borne disease were to enter a single bed, you would likely have to remove all of the plants and soil and then start anew with new soil. If you have two or more beds, the likelihood of disease taking both beds out of production is less likely.

      • Thank you. I’m planning on a 100 foot by 20 foot greenhouse. It will have lots of beds! I also plan on redundancy, so every plant I grow will be in at least two different beds.

Growing Baby Vegetables

Seed Sprouts for Eating