Crop Rotation: It’s for gardens, too

Rotating crops is a management practice that farmers have used for years to keep production at its peak in their fields. But gardeners can benefit from this practice as well.Planting the same vegetables in the same place year after year can increase pests and decrease nutrients, causing your garden to decline in productivity. If you can’t move your garden, at least rotate your crops to help keep production up.

It’s pretty simple. If you planted carrots next to the fence this year, plant tomatoes there next year and plant squash where the beets grew this year.

Certain vegetables remove more of some nutrients than others. Tomatoes the same spot every year can deplete the soil of potassium. Potatoes take out about three times as much the amount of phosphorus as broccoli. Follow a potassium-loving crop with one that loves phosphorus.

Pests can build up over the years in the same spot if you always plant their favorite food there. Make the critters crawl clear across the garden for a meal and some may die on the way.

Here’s an easy rule of thumb. Follow a fruit-bearing crop, like tomatoes, with a root drop, like carrots. Plant a leafy crop, like lettuce, the next year. In the third year, start the cycle over with your fruit crop.

Keep these tips in mind when you are planning for this year’s garden. And when you’re ready to plant, your Stockdale’s has all the seed, plants, fertilizer, tools, and supplies you’ll need.