Crop Rotation and the Backyard Homestead
When I started gardening I never heard the term “crop rotation” and certainly not in reference to the backyard homestead. It was never mentioned in the books or blogs that I was reading either. But now, with some years under my belt, I continue to learn the importance of this for successful gardens.
What is crop rotation?
Crop rotation is a deliberate and organized plan to rotate crops from one year to the next. In the most basic terms you are moving crops around so that you are not growing the same family of vegetables in the same area year after year. With perfect crop rotation you only grow the same family of plants in the area one out of every three growing seasons.
Crop rotation is used pretty regularly by large organic farmers. However it is rarely used by standard commercial farmers; which often leads to more and more use of pesticides.
Crop rotation sounds more confusing than it is and the benefits will help your backyard garden significantly.
Crop Rotation for the Backyard Homestead is part of the 30 Ways of Homesteading series. You can read more about the series at the end of this article.
Crop Rotation – Why is it important?
Crop rotation will help your garden in a number of ways.
- Controlling pests and disease – Pests and diseases often have a particular type of vegetable that they assault while leaving others alone. Using a rotation system, moving that family of crops, each year you can virtually rid your garden of crop specific pests and diseases like fungal root diseases.
- Preserving soil health and condition – Crop families tend to be heavy feeders or heavy givers to the soil. Crop rotation will use this to the greatest advantage and keep your soil healthy and fertile. For example tomatoes are a heavy feeding crop requiring nutrient dense soil. After growing tomatoes you’d want to follow with a vegetable that requires less, or not the same nutrients, like carrots or corn. This creates a healthy ebb and flow in the soil and promotes fertility.
What crops to rotate?
You can break your crop families into a few major groups:
- Tomato Family: tomato, potato, pepper, eggplant
- Onion Family: onion, shallot, leek, chive, garlic
- Beet Family: beet, Swiss chard, spinach
- Cabbage Family: cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, collards, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, radish, rutabaga, turnip
- Legume Family: bean, pea, cowpea, peanut
- Carrot Family: carrot, celery, celeriac, parsley
- Squash Family: cucumber, watermelon, cantaloupe, pumpkin, squash, gourds
- Lettuce Family: lettuce, chicory, endive
- Grass Family: Corn, wheat
What about raised beds?
YES! Crop rotation can and should be practiced in raised beds and square foot gardening. Though more attention may still be needed depending how closely your boxes are spaced, when it comes to crop specific beds. Just follow the guide in planting your boxes each year. Keep in mind that crop rotation is only one element of healthy gardens. You’ll still need to keep your beds full of good, rich compost and focus on bed preparation between seasons. This is especially important in closed/raised beds where you are the only one adding nutrition to your beds.
Crop rotation will bring a new vitality to your backyard homestead. I encourage you to employ it as you plan this next season’s crop!
Homesteading is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. It is characterized by growing your own food, home preservation of foodstuffs, and it may even involve the small scale production of textiles, clothing, and craft work for household use or sale. Most importantly homesteading is not defined by where someone lives, such as the city or the country, but by the lifestyle choices they make.
The Prepared Bloggers are passionate about what they do and they each have their own way of achieving self-sufficiency. Grab your favorite drink and enjoy reading about the 30 Ways of Homesteading!
Crops on the Homestead
- Straw Bale Gardening from PreparednessMama
- Crop Rotation for the Backyard Homesteader from Imperfectly Happy
- Benefits of Growing Fruit from SchneiderPeeps
- Succession Planting: More Food in the Same Space from 104 Homestead
- Crops to Grow for Food Storage from Grow A Good Life
- Winter Gardening Series from Our Stoney Acres
- How To Build a Raised Garden Bed For Under $12 from Frugal Mama and The Sprout
- How to Save Carrot Seeds from Food Storage and Survival
Animals on the Homestead
- Getting Your Bees Started from Game and Garden
- Homesteading How-To: Bees from Tennessee Homestead
- How to Get Ready for Chicks from The Homesteading Hippy
- Selecting a Goat Breed for Your Homestead from Chickens Are a Gateway Animal
- Adding New Poultry and Livestock from Timber Creek Farm
- Beekeeping 101: 5 Things To Do Before Your Bees Arrive from Home Ready Home
- How to Prepare for Baby Goats from Homestead Lady
- How to Prevent and Naturally Treat Mastitis in the Family Milk Cow from North Country Farmer
- Tips to Raising Livestock from Melissa K. Norris
- Raising Baby Chicks – Top 5 Chicken Supplies from Easy Homestead
Making the Homestead Work for You – Infrastructure
- Ways to Homestead in a Deed Restricted Community from Blue Jean Mama
- Building a Homestead from the Ground Up from Beyond Off Grid
- DIY Rainwater Catchment System from Survival Prepper Joe
- Finding Our Homestead Land from Simply Living Simply
- I Wish I Was A Real Homesteader by Little Blog on the Homestead
- Endless Fencing Projects from Pasture Deficit Disorder
- Essential Homesteading Tools: From Kitchen To Field from Trayer Wilderness
- Homesteading Legal Issues from The 7 P’s Blog
- Why We Love Small Space Homesteading In Suburbia from Lil’ Suburban Homestead
Preserving and Using the Bounty from the Homestead
- How to Dehydrate Corn & Frozen Vegetables from Mom With a Prep
- How to Make Soap from Blue Yonder Urban Farms
- How to Render Pig Fat from Mama Kautz
- How to Make Your Own Stew Starter from Homestead Dreamer
- Why You Should Grow and Preserve Rhubarb! from Living Life in Rural Iowa
- It’s a Matter of Having A Root Cellar…When You Don’t Have One from A Matter of Preparedness