Crop rotation in a small vegetable garden

Asked July 13, 2017, 9:57 AM EDT

Our vegetable garden is 25' wide X 80' long, as shown in the accompanying photo. The long garden axis faces SSE. Apart from the grass path down the center, we've divided the garden into 19 plots, each about 8 ' wide X 10' deep. This year, we're having some languid crops, possibly due to crop rotation lapses. Can you suggest an appropriate rotation plan for our modest-sized garden? Online websites seem to vary in their advice, so we'd like to get good, basic information on crop rotation which is easily understood by two senior (in age) gardeners, who are not senile but just perplexed by the plethora of crop rotation advice. Diagrams or illustrations which would amplify textual information would be very useful and much appreciated. Many thanks for your assistance.

Montgomery County Maryland

1 Response

Crop rotation in a home vegetable garden is not very effective for controlling diseases and insects, both of which can spread easily within a small garden area. That said, we do recommend that you rotate by crop families. For example, put all carrot family plants into one section of the garden the first year, then in the second year put mustard family plants (or another plant family) into that space. The North Carolina State University Extension has a nice guide on plant families, as well as a straightforward basic crop rotation plan.

Because you have a tall tree tree near your garden, shade might limit what will grow well there. Leafy greens are more tolerant of shade, where as tomatoes, peppers (crops in the nightshade family) require more sun. Leafy vegetables such as lettuce, arugula, and spinach can tolerate the most shade. Carrots, beets, Swiss chard, kale, and mustard greens will produce if they receive about 5-6 hours of sunlight.

For more resources on vegetable gardening, take a look at our Grow It Eat It website:

Feel free to contact us again if you have any additional questions.