Crop Rotation in the Home Garden

Plan to practice crop rotation. That is, don’t plant vegetables in the same place where you planted them last year. Each vegetable uses different minerals in the soil, so planting the same vegetables in the same spot each year will provide you with weaker slower producing vegetables as the soil won’t have the needed nutrients.

Move Them Each Year

Best practice is to move your vegetables to another spot every year for three years and add compost to the garden in the fall and spring. Next, where vegetables have depleted the soil, plant cover crops in the fall that replenish the nutrients in the soil.


For example, tomatoes need high nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, so don’t plant them where you grew potatoes, peppers and eggplant because these plants have used up the nutrients the tomatoes need.

Peas and Beans

Nitrogen fixing plants such as peas and beans take nitrogen from the air and store it in the plant’s roots. When the plant is done producing and dies, the nitrogen is released into the soil for the plants that follow. Planting winter cover crops such as clover, annual rye, or winter peas will also replenish nutrients to the soil. Cover crops can then be turned under in your garden, or you can cut them back and plant new plants right through them.

Prevent Disease

Another reason to rotate crops is to prevent the spread of plant disease. Disease organisms can build up over time and cause crop failure. Also, rotating crops helps reduce insect infestations.

Track Your Plantings Each Year

Divide your garden into sections and plant a different plant family in each section every year. Suggested groups would be (1) plants grown for leaves or flowers, such as salad greens and broccoli; (2) plants grown for fruits such as tomatoes and peppers; (3) plants grown for roots such as carrots and onions, (4) plants that feed the soil such as peas, beans and cover crops.

For a very handy four step rotation plan check out this website: