If you’re new to gardening—or if you’re not—keeping a record of your garden can be very useful.
As you can see, you don’t need to take a lot of time, use rulers, or know calligraphy to create a useful reminder of where you planted what in previous years. The one on the left is from 1987, and the other is from 2010. Lots of my records are in pencil, so not sharp enough to scan. You can see that what I draw is quite general, and that the balance of my garden has changed over the years.
So it’s mildly amusing to look back, but why bother? Is there any real purpose?
Veggies hail from different families, which have different soil needs. Rather than add artificial amendments, let your soil do the work! By planting crop families in rotation, year after year, you can build the soil painlessly.
For instance, root crops such as carrots will do better in an area that has NOT been heavily fertilized. Here on the farm, that means carrots are planted in beds that have not had a dose of rotted manure or added organic matter for several years. The extra nutrients cause the tops to grow beautifully, but at the expense of the root. Which, you know, is the part we eat.
The brassica family contains all the cabbages, including cauliflower, kale, and broccoli. These feed heavily on the soil, so they are great planting where legumes (peas and beans) were grown last year. Legumes fix nitrogen into the soil, just the way brassicas like it!
And if you plant cabbage family veggies in the same place year after year, you’ll find your pests more firmly entrenched. Shake things up a bit; move them around! Make the cabbage moths go hunting for their food instead of spreading the platter in front of them.
We don’t do a perfect job around here. Nearly half of our garden (outside the raised beds) is dedicated to tomatoes every year. At the very least, I swap out the tomatoes from side to side for good measure.
Here’s a website I found with good information on crop rotation.
How about you? Do you grow a garden? Do you rotate your crops?