How to Use Crop Rotation to Increase Garden Yield

an assortment of lettuces

Are you planning out your garden this year? It is still cold and windy here, but it will be time to plant soon.

So today, I wanted to discuss a topic that is vital to an abundant garden: crop rotation.

What is crop rotation?

Crop rotation is moving your vegetables to different spots in the garden each year to grow. Basically, never planting the same thing in the same place two years in a row. This helps your soil and plants be healthier and more nutritious.

green vegetables on a white surface

Why should I rotate my crops each year?

  1. Cuts down on disease and bugs. When you plant different kinds of plants in the same spot each year, it breaks up the cycle of disease and bugs for certain plants. This helps you avoid large disease and bug problems in your garden.
  2. Allows the nutrients to be replenished in the soil each year. Different plants need different nutrients, so by rotating types of plants you are using your soil nutrients to their fullest.
  3. Prevents erosion of garden soil from constant heavy feeding. Large farms have this problem when they plant the same crop on the same fields each year.
  4. Helps you grow healthier food for your family. By taking care to increase the nutrients in your soil, you also increase the health and nutrition of the vegetables your family eats.

How do I utilize crop rotation in my garden?

  • Keep a record of what you plant each year.
  • Rotate your planting according the schedule below.
  • Don’t plant anything in the same place atleast two (preferably three) years in a row.
  • Boost soil nutrition each year with compost and cover crops

What crops should I rotate and how?

I love this graphic from Wild Critter Farms because it breaks down the rotation into a simple visual to follow.

  1. Legumes– beans, peas, lima beans
    These plants add nitrogen back to the soil by their root system.
  2. Leaves– lettuce, greens, herbs, spinach, brassicas (cold crops), corn
    These plants are heavy nitrogen users, so they go after the legumes.
  3. Fruiting– tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, squash
    They don’t need as much nitrogen as the plants above, but they need phosphorus to grow.
  4. Root crops– beets, carrots, onion, garlic, radishes, parsnips, turnips
    This last group uses the least amount of nitrogen, which has been depleted by the groups before it. They need more potassium than the other plants to grow.

What are the vegetables that benefit most from this technique?

Potatoes– Don’t plant in the same spot as tomatoes or peppers have been planted because they share the same bugs and disease.

Tomatoes & Peppers– Don’t plant in the same spot as potatoes have been planted because they share the same bugs and disease.

Brassicas (cold weather crops like broccoli, kale & cabbage)- These are heavy nitrogen feeders, so the soil needs atleast 2 years to replenish the nutrients before they are planted in the same spot again.

All of this may seem a little overwhelming at first. If you are planting your first garden, you don’t have to worry about it this year. Just keep records of what plants you planted where this year, and you can pin this post to save for next years planning.

If you have been gardening for a few years but haven’t been rotating your crops, this is the year to start.

The biggest thing that can help is to not plant the same thing in the same spot twice!

Then, if you are ready to become a more advanced gardener, use the schedule above to rotate your crops for higher yields.

Organic gardening means growing food for your family without harsh chemicals and pesticides. Using crop rotation can help you accomplish this goal more easily.

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What do you do for crop rotation in your garden? Let us know in the comments below. And if you found this post helpful, please share. Thanks!

If you are interested in starting your first garden this year, we have a FREE online course called “Starting Your First Garden” that can help you grow your own food in your backyard! Click on the image below to sign up.

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