rotating crops in small veggie garden?

tigereyes(5)March 27, 2011

I have a small (11 feet by 19 feet) veggie garden that is a raised bed. Do I need to rotate my veggies from where they were last year? I always did it with a much larger garden that was on the ground and I'm wondering if I should still do it with this smaller one. I am unsure if it is necessary because of being a raised bed and being so small.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

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It's always a good idea to rotate things. It can be as simple as growing beans where you grew squash last year and squash where your tomatoes and peppers were.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 9:27PM
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Dan Staley

It is utterly, completely, simply, bascially basic to rotate. Therefore, good records are required in such a space.


    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 9:58PM
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taz6122(N.W. AR.6b)

Rotating crops is not as important as it used to be. We've come a long way with soil testing, composting, fertilizer and disease control since this was a necessity. If you fertilize regularly and use micro nutrients then I wouldn't worry too much. If you don't want or can't afford a soil test and don't fertilize regularly then rotating certainly isn't a bad idea.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 10:39PM
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nygardener(z6 New York)

See this thread for some more ideas.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 3:50AM
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I agree with taz, in a space that small, rotating after a few years becomes somewhat pointless. The good news about such a small space is that it can easily be kept no till in very heavy mulch, which helps greatly with fertility and allows excellent soil life such that after a while the circumstances that make rotation important - namely reduced soil life and fertility - no longer exist. Together with having as much diversity as possible should do the trick.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 9:12AM
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Er, except the point of crop rotation is not soil fertility, although we have to be constantly improving this of course. The point of crop rotation is: any life stages of disease-causing fungi that survive in the soil overwinter will present less risk if you plant something that is immune to them. Most parasitic fungi are host-specific. Most parasites of annual crops can survive in soil overwinter, but normally for not longer than 2 - 3 years. This is why a 3-year rotation period is recommended, to let them die out. It probably is less crucial if you maintain a health community of soil microorganisms, which will out-compete the enemies. I am actually struggling the same problem, with a small garden and the ~same crops every year. I ended up only being able to grow really disease-resistant tomato varieties, because of pathogen accumulation in my soil.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 9:46AM
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I sort of agree with Taz. For decades I have rotated my small plots and then I see the commercial growers that plant garlic only, or potatos only, or like Dwight beets on the same property years on end.
Perhaps were are just spinning or wheels for no need. Although if you do have a problem like club root, change location and your ways.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 10:04AM
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Dan Staley

Katya relays the basics of horticulture. If we use the logic that rotation in a small garden is pointless, then it is hopeless to grow veggies in a small garden. We learned hundreds, if not thousands of years ago that we must rotate to help avoid disease.


    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 10:40AM
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taz6122(N.W. AR.6b)

Rotating in that small of an area (11'x19') would not prevent any disease IMO. I'm curious as to why some of you think crop rotation is just for disease control?? Management of pests and micro nutrients also comes into play.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 11:00AM
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bejay9_10(zone 9/10)

I've debated this ever since growing in small boxes. However, I feel that small amounts of interplanted varieties should not be as problematic as the planting of large amounts of the same or similar varieties in the same location repeatedly.

In other words, I doubt that 3 tomatoes planted after 3 broccoli that was in the space before, would be affected by a similar disease problem.

I have watched the local commercial strawberry growers use the same plots every year to grow their berries. After harvesting in late summer, the fields are covered with a clear plastic to solarize the field, then it is replanted with the same monocrop.

I plant snap peas, followed by pole beans in the same location - on the north side of my planter boxes - with stakes to grow on - and it doesn't seem to be detrimental to either the peas or beans. Both, do however, produce their own nitrogen to some extent, which may be a factor.

The areas planted are usually pre-treated with fresh home-made compost before planting - and it is constantly being refreshed in these planters.

Just my 2 c's.


    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 11:02AM
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