Crop Rotation

Crop Rotation Definition

The practice of growing different crops after each other in the same area mainly to preserve the productive capacity of the soil.

Different plants have different needs that have to be satisfied by the soil in order to get healthy vegetables. If the same type of crop is grown on the same area of soil year after year, the soil will be depleted of certain nutrients, and the plants will suffer and be weak.

Crop Rotation Benefits

  • Maintains and improves soil fertility
  • Prevents build up of pests, weeds and soil diseases
  • Reduces the need for adding fertilizers
  • There is no need to let ares lie fallow
  • The spreading of pests is slowed down
  • Better yield
  • More diverse garden work routine
  • Increased biological activity

Some plants even add nutrients to the soil, like for instance nitrogen. The survival of pests and diseases is less likely when the host is suddenly gone off to another area, and the bad guys are left behind. Brassicas are more likely to get attacked by clubroot and potatoes by nematodes, when the same patch of soil is used year after year for the same type of vegetable.

Disadvantages of Crop Rotation

  • More planning at the desk means less time in the garden
  • Areas with shade moves to a new place each year
  • Trellises and supports have to be moved each year

You do have to put in more work though, because a log should be kept of what went where, since it can be hard to remember it all. That the garden is more alive and dynamic because of crop rotation means that plant support structures will be on the move too, which again means more work.

Crop Rotation Chart

This is an example of 4 year crop rotation plan. Year 5 is only included to illustrate that the cycle is repeated after 4 years since year 1 and year 5 is the same:

Crop Rotation Chart

Vegetable Crop Rotation

These are common vegetables that would be interesting to grow in a kitchen garden. There are different vegetables in each group except for potatoes, which is one large homogeneous group.

  • Potatoes
  • Roots: Beetroot, carrot, chard, onion, parsnip, salsify
  • Miscellaneous: Basil, celery, chives, cucumber, leek, lettuce, maize, parsley, pumpkin, spinach, tomato, zucchini
  • Legumes and brassicas: Bean, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, pea, radish, rucola

Overall the garden is more alive with crop rotation, when things are constantly moving around. Movement means life.


  2. The Self-Sufficient Gardener – John Seymour


4 comments on “Crop Rotation

  1. -

    Great blog. Love the pros and cons of crop rotation. One thing I thought about when reading your blog was to highlight that the potato crop family also includes tomatoes and other members of the solanaceae family such as peppers and aubergines. Although I’ve only ever seen blight on potatoes and tomatoes.

    • -

      Thanks Claire! 🙂
      Good point. The only reason for moving tomatoes to another group is to make more space for potatoes, because it’s valuable crop if the goal is self-sufficiency. Tomatoes are also normally grown in a greenhouse around here, but I would like to grown them in an outside bed like the other crops. I hope I can get away with it, but it’s kind of an experiment for me, since I don’t have a greenhouse yet. Maybe I’ll build a great big kick-ass polytunnel for tomatoes next year, how about that? 😉
      Is blight mainly airborne or mainly surviving in the soil? Reminds me of a sad story:

  2. -

    Hey thomas, may I use your 4yr rotation chart for a class project? Just a powerpoint slide image. I will of course reference you as the author.

    • - Post author

      Sorry, I just saw your comment now! 🙁 I assume that you’re already done with the project? How did it turn out?

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