Q. My husband said you should change the location of your vegetable garden every year. Is this correct?
A. This idea is impractical and unnecessary. Most family garden areas are too small to even rotate crops adequately, much less having the space to move the entire garden to a new location.
If you maintain a clean, weed-free garden, grow your crops fast, harvest at peak maturity, and don’t introduce diseases into your garden, you should be able to grow indefinitely in the same garden spot.
If one or more crops are over-run with pests or disease, you may need to avoid planting that crop for a year or more, unless you have a large enough area that you can move that crop some distance away, where the disease or bugs that have wintered over won’t get to them.
Crop Rotation & The Garden Master CD
Q. I am using the Garden Master software this year for planting and fertilizing. How do I adjust for crop rotation and how often do I need to do it?
A. You will fertilize everything the same – once per week until 3 weeks before harvest – without any changes for crop rotation.
Planting location – or rotation of crops is another matter. You will still want to follow the Garden Master’s recommendations with regard to height-placements, and then adjust for those crops you feel you need to rotate.
There are 3 major reasons for rotating crops. The first is to take advantage of the fact that different plants use slightly different amounts of the various nutrients, and some (legumes) can actually put nitrogen into the soil. Because we feed the plants a balanced diet, nutrition is not a problem in a Mittleider garden. The second reason for rotating is to break the cycle of disease that may have gotten into a certain crop. And the third is to break the cycle of insect pests that favor a certain crop.
In reality, most small home gardens are not big enough to be very effective at stopping the spread or pests or diseases, so crop rotation is often not a great solution – although still worth doing.
Other “cultural practices” of the Mittleider Method will likely assist you more than crop rotation in minimizing your losses from pests and diseases. To assure a great yield year after year, we teach you such things as:
- maintaining a completely weed-free garden – even including wide 5-10’ borders,
- watering only the actual growing area – leaving wide aisles dry (like a desert to bugs),
- growing seedlings in a protected environment and transplanting stocky, robust seedlings into the garden,
- growing your plants fast by feeding and watering them properly, and
- harvesting the crop as soon as it matures, before the bugs and/or diseases can become entrenched.