Crop Rotation

Keep ‘Em Moving! In Other Words, Crop Rotation

Crop rotation is the practice of shifting locations of crops within the garden each season so the same crop does not grow in the same place year after year. This method helps manage soil fertility and helps avoid or reduce problems with soil borne diseases and some soil dwelling insects.

Plants affect the soil in different ways. To keep soil nutrients balanced, avoid planting the same type of crop (leafy, fruiting, root, or legume) in the same place two years in a row.

Leafy and fruiting crops (such as lettuce, cabbage, corn and tomatoes) are heavy feeders and rapidly use up nitrogen. Root vegetables and herbs are light feeders. Peas, beans, and other legumes add nitrogen to the soil but needs lots of phosphorus. Follow a soil-building crop with a heavy-feeding crop, and follow a heavy feeder with a root crop or another soil builder to balance the supplies of nutrients in the soil.

Many diseases and pests are host-specific. They attack only a certain plant or family of plants. It’s best to avoid planting the same plants–or plants in the same family–in the same location in your garden year after year.

I’m giving this information at this time because tomato blight wiped out almost all my tomato crop this summer. It took me a few days to realize what was happening, since I’d never had it before. After checking tomato diseases on a website, I diagnosed the problem. Now I realize lack of crop rotation was part of my problem. The other part was no fall plow-down of last year’s garden (due to the fact that I wasn’t at home yet). I did harvest some tomatoes to eat, but not the volume I was planning to can. The cherry tomatoes are still ripening and didn’t seem to be touched by the blight as much. I hope this information will save your tomatoes from the blight.