Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Rotate your families!

A key to organic high calorie gardening is crop rotation. A key to crop rotation is planting members from different plant families in rotation. Using different families of plants is important in controlling insects and disease. Members of the Pea and Bean family play an important role for building nitrogen in soil. Plants like tiller radish, buckwheat, cowpeas, marigolds, etc. can be important cover crops.   Below is some information on plant families and possible crop rotations.

Table 1 was taken form Nematode Control in the HomeVegetable Garden

Here are the families that you would use. This is why I try to pick high calorie gardening plants from different families.

Nightshade Family
Nightshade includes tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and potatoes.  All of these will heavily deplete your soil of nutrients so you'll need to fertilize before planting another crop.  Perils of replanting in the same space:  Increased problems with blight and pests like tomato hornworm. However, hornworm is edible!

Legume Family
Peas and beans are legumes.  Legumes are really beneficial plants in that their roots inject nitrogen into the soil.  These would be a great choice to follow a Nightshade planting in your crop rotation schedule.

Squash and Melon Family
It's pretty easy to guess what goes here:  summer and winter squash, cucumbers, pumpkins, and melons. These are also heavy feeders and will deplete your soil nutrients over time.  The big pest here that will cause problems if you don't rotate is the squash vine borer and the squash bug, which will overwinter in the soil. I had this attack my pumpkin vines last year and, let me tell you, they are a PAIN! However, squash bug and stink bug are edible!

Brassicas and Salad Greens Family
Leafy greens such as arugula, broccoli, cauliflower, rutabagas, kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and kale (NOT lettuce!) are in this family.  Because they put on such a large amount of green growth, they are highly dependent on lots of nitrogen during the growing season. These are important crops for fermenting, think Kimchi and Sauerkraut.

Sunflower Family
Sunflowers are in this family, of course, but it also includes Jerusalem artichokes, lettuce and endive.  All of these tread very lightly on soil and are light feeds, so they are good choices to either precede or follow a member of the Brassicas family.

Carrot Family
Along with carrots, this family includes celery, parsley, and parsnips.  They like lots of organic matter but not lots of nitrogen as it can cause you to get some really funky looking roots.  So you don't want to plant this anywhere you planted a legume the following season.

Goosefoot Family
Members include beets, spinach and Swiss chard.  This family is great because it will grow even in soil with low fertility, so they are a great follow-up crop for members of the Nightshade family.

Grass Family
Corn is the number one member here, but this family also includes oats, wheat and rye.  It's a great follow-up for the spot where you previously grew beans or peas, as it needs really good, fertile soil. Plants like long season corn are heavy feeders.

Onion Family
And last but not least is the Onion family which includes onions, garlic, leeks and scallions.  Great at repelling pests but they require high fertility.

Cover Crop Information

Sustainable Crop Rotations  with Cover Crops, OSU
No-tillers can use liquid manure and cover crops to improve their soil structure and yields - See more at: http://www.no-tillfarmer.com/pages/Spre/Use-Manure-And-Cover-Crops-To-Boost-No-Till-Soils-October-17,-2012.php#sthash.p4uRfLgz.dpuf

Crop Rotation on Organic Farms: A Planning Manual, NRAES 177
Crop Rotation on Organic Farms

No comments:

Post a Comment