I'm trying to get my head around rotations. Garlic needs 4 year rotations, brassicas need 4, potatoes need 3-4, tomatoes don't need any, lettuce doesn't need any, etc.
Seems like it would be easier to do this graphically. Pattern recognition! I've attached a suggested calendar...but since this is a new topic for me, I'm sure it's riddled with errors, oversights, and design flaws.
I'll appreciate any advice, criticism and shared experience you have to offer!
I think in a small diverse garden crop rotation is not as important as it is in large production, where whole fields may be single crops. Or in large production where added nutrients are expensive and the value from their usage has to be maximised. A few crops have specific pests or diseases -- though maybe not in your location -- that really make crop rotation helpful. It might help to ask other local farmers and gardeners which pests and diseases are frequent problems there.
I often spend time in the winter making elaborate plans of layout and rotation and what-all, but then spring rolls around and suddenly I have material that has to be planted and only some areas are ready, and there you go, the whole plan goes out the window. Also, self-seeding tends to happen in the same spot and hasn't seemed to be a problem so far. But my garden is small, overcrowded, and very diverse, and whatever pests and diseases I have had problems with haven't seemed to be because of repeat locations.
Some crops can share space within the same season, either because their planting and harvest times allows succession (especially garlic), or because one can produce and finish before the other needs the whole space (eg lettuce, arugula, beets, etc around squash, melons and other heat-loving sprawlers).
I think a realistic plan would be to map out a real 4 year rotation only for the few crops it really matters for, and fit all the others in between anywhere whenever the time is right.
But yes, I've often wished for a garden mapping app where I could put in a map of my garden, and then mark what's planned, or actually growing, in each area, and then "run slideshow" to see it all evolve. Mmmm...
Works at a residential alternative high school in the Himalayas SECMOL.org . "Back home" is Cape Cod, E Coast USA.
Thank you, Rebecca. I started with a very diverse garden but I find keeping cultivars identifiable is hard without planting in blocks. In a few years I should know which cultivars work best for my conditions and be able to winnow out the others.
Isn't the Facebook game "Farmville" like the app you describe, but in a totally creepy Fisher-Price-Meets-Cargill kind of way? :P
My main crops so far have been brassicas, Andean tubers, and garlic/shallots, which gave me to think that everything has to be rotated on such long intervals. Andean tubers (ulluco/mashua/yacon/oca) have an as-yet-unknown rotation cycle, but I suspect it is similarly long. I seem to have chosen, as my low-care staples, the crops that require the longest rotations! But I appreciate that not everything is like that.
Still, it's interesting if the lowest-effort, highest-yield crops offset some of their convenience with complicated rotation ballets.
Thought that I would mention that while it is true that some crops do not necessarily need to be rotated, it is believed that you still have to concern yourself with plants that should not be planted in the same place that another plant that shares the same types of diseases/pests was planted the year before. For example, if you are following a crop rotation plan, conventional wisdom says not to plant tomatoes where you planted potatoes the year before. Another example: if you want to plant raspberries, it is said that you should not plant them where potatoes have been planted within the last four years.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. -B. Franklin
I think that's a really neat system you've come up with!
I've found crop rotation to be fairly low on my priority list the last few years. Probably due to my annual gardens constantly changing each year as I find new design styles I want to try, discover which paths I did/didn't use the previous year, and even the location of the garden changing as my trees/perennials grow and effect things like light, wind exposure, moisture needs, etc.
Usually I start off with a "base" plan for the earliest crops, and try to not repeat the same crops from the previous year in each space. Oftentimes, however, I end up with extra seeds/starts or open spots that need something planted and it depends more on what I have on hand instead of the location of the crop. I also like certain things more, like kale, chard, greens, and end up spreading them out all over the place.
So far (knock on wood) I haven't seen any problems with pests or nutrient deficiency; but I usually clear out the whole annual garden after the first frost (the biomass is used in the perennial garden/forest). I then spread rabbit manure, urine, kitchen scraps, and other organic materials over the entire space and cover with 6-8 inches of wood chips to break down over winter.
Ultimately, one of the best things about gardening is the freedom we have to design our spaces how we feel is best, so I totally agree crop rotation is a good practice if one finds it leads to a more productive harvest each year! 🙂