You may read this headline and wonder if you even have crops. If you have 3 or more vegetable beds, you have crops.
Crop rotation is about keeping track of what you planted in that bed this year and moving that to a different bed next year. The why of this is because different types of plants attract specific pests, are susceptible to certain diseases and have differing soil nutrition needs. So, if you plant tomatoes in the same bed, year after year, the theory is that you’ll have more tomato hornworms, more tomato-specific diseases like blossom end rot, and fewer tomatoes because all the nutrients tomatoes need have been depleted.
Tomato plants are in the “heavy feeder” plant category, meaning that they need a lot of nitrogen and phosphorous to grow, and will suck those nutrients out of the soil. Planting them in the same place next year could starve them of those nutrients, leaving plants vulnerable to disease and hornworms, and unable to bounce back. So many new veggie gardeners have a great first year and then wonder what happened when the second year is less productive.
One solution is to move your tomatoes to the bed where you grew leafy plants like spinach and broccoli. Move the greens to the root bed and the root crops to the fruit and seed bed (tomatoes, corn, peppers).
Of course, crop rotation can get complicated, with proponents swearing by their plans. And the bigger your garden, the more options you have, including planting a cover crop (like clover) that’s planted just to replenish the soil. But here at Bite Size Gardening, we prefer simple.
The one thing to take away from this post is to move your plants around and give the soil a break.