If you have been gardening seriously for more than a few years, you may have already realized that planting the same crop year after year realizes diminishing returns. You might have already heard of crop rotation and tried to vary your planting, but don't quite know what you should plant in the stead of your preferred crop in order to prepare the soil to grow that favored fruit or vegetable again. Here are a few tips that will help you maximize the potential of your garden with sound crop rotation:
- Divide and conquer
The first big step in crop rotation is to divide your garden into at least four sections. While you can choose to create more sections, four is good for a start. Make sure that each section is of a fairly equal size to accommodate different crops.
- Pick Your Four
Most gardeners who are starting out with simple crop rotations recognize four distinct groups
Leafy Veggies: brussels sprouts, broccoli, lettuce and spinach Roots: carrots, turnips, radish, and beets
Fruits: tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, and pumpkins
Legumes: beans, peas, and others
While each category has much more examples of crops that fit the bill, each category has a vital role to play in keeping the soil healthy.
Once you have designated the four crops to start with, make a chart of this first four plantings followed by three rows of four empty boxes. In each subsequent year move each planting one step to the right and place the one on the far right at the far left position. This one-step to the left movement can be repeated for the next four years and form a template for your upcoming planting schedule.
- Don't Be Afraid of Variety
Keep in mind that you don't need to plant the same crop in each category every year. Variety within a category is as good for the soil as rotating categories. Even if you have loved planting tomatoes in the past, give squash a try one year. Not only will this lead to a more productive garden, but you may also have the opportunity to try out some new recipes for your homegrown produce.
- Make a 4-year plan
Once you have designated the four crops to start with, make a chart of the first four plantings followed by three rows of four empty boxes. In each subsequent year move each planting one step to the right and place the one on the far right at the far left position. This one-step to the left movement can be repeated for the next four years and form a template for your upcoming planting schedule.
- Give A Crop a Well-Deserved Rest
Planting cover crops in lieu of a legume planting or once you have gone through one full rotation is a great way to give the soil a chance to recuperate and produce a truly wonderful crop in the coming year. These may include grains that can be used in recipes like rye or plants that can be harvested as a garnish like clover.
Proper crop rotation not only helps to develop and maintain healthy soil but also opens up many possibilities to broaden your own horizons by giving you the opportunity to raise plants you are unfamiliar with. You may find that these tasty new sensations will become a favorite of both yourself and your family, bringing both pleasurable gardening and healthy meals to your home for years to come.
Contact a company like Din San Nursery for more information and assistance.