Garden And Crop Rotation For Soil Health And Restoration

By Jannie Vaught

Let’s have a look at a few simple ways to rotate our garden plants to keep soil fertility up and loss of nutrients for maximum growth low, by simply moving the plants around every year. Get your garden journal out, and start doing some drawings of last years garden. Write the date and location and growing zone. In this drawing write what you grew and the location for 2018. I write where I got the plants and seeds also. Now make your list of what you plan on growing this year. And write down what worked and produced and what didn’t and the location, as it may be a fault of seed or plant and not your garden.

Have your seed packages or catalog you bought from out to use as a reference. Choose the seeds or plants that are going to support your goals, One thing I do, I choose the shortest growing one I can find. Days to fruit. As we often will get a dry spell when they are all needing that extra water, and are stalled due to the intense sun and heat. So for me, shorter is better in the spring/ summer planting season. Let’s have a look back in history. Crop rotation. There have been many ways done in past history. This included resting the land and legume over planting or green manure, which is still a good way. There is the 7th year rest or fallow method, where every 7th year the land was left fallow or natural. Back then you realize many of these methods were done on land with Wild Borders around the growing areas, and the microbes and natures elements, herbivores moving through the property and natural animals would re-charge these areas.

Now with fewer Wild Borders, we are looking at using the plants themselves as the restoration. A Medieval crop rotation might look like this.

Year 1: Wheat or Rye.

Year 2: Rest.

Year 3: Peas, beans or lentils.

This method would rest and restore. And be established as a continuously repeating cycle. This method has not changed as it still works. Another method is changing from heavy to light feeders and nitrogen-fixing crops such as legumes to re-establish the NPK. and add bulk carbon back into the soil, roots, stems, and twigs for example that broke down in the rest years keeping the soil built up with abundant plant material mixed into the soil for underground creatures to feed on, worms, microbes, fungi, and bacteria. The ph could re-balance and correct any over acid or alkali systems. Often ash and charcoal bits were used from field burning or applied from the home fireplaces. Now called Biochar. Fruit trees love some ash sprinkled around their drip line.

Here are some Crop rotation principles to use now.

1.Alternate heavy feeders (corn and cotton) and light (root crops)feeders.

2.Alternate root crops with leaf crops.

Brassicaceae (mustards), Solanaceae (nightshades, peppers, tomato, potato, and many others), Liliaceae (lilies, elephant garlic),

4. Cucurbitaceae ( squash, pumpkin, gourds).

Change these around yearly avoiding insect-specific to plant problems.

5. Green Manure. Legumes are grown in fall through winter and turned in at springtime before they make seeds.

These are turned under and are allowed to incorporate into the soil at least a month before the next crop planting. These are considered Bio-Intensive garden methods and with this practice, you can grow continuous with no or little rest and plant closer together with less stress and competition for the fruiting plants. Also, the use of “Stinky” flowers such as marigolds and garlic to ward off insects are used as borders, Don’t forget the flowers as you plan.

Remember we will be again outside in our gardens. Be wise and move those plants around, mark it in your garden journal for yearly reference.

Growing Green with Jannie