After your tomato plants are gone, you are probably itching to put something else in its place, but what?
Crop rotation is not a new thing, but many people don’t know what it is or that the basic idea applies whether you are a large-scale farmer or a small, urban gardener. In short, crop rotation is the idea that when one crop has finished its life cycle, you should replace that crop with something different. Every plant requires different things from the soil, so at the end of each growing season it is not unusual to note that the soil has lower levels of certain nutrients. If you plant the same crop season after season, those nutrients will not have the opportunity to replenish themselves and will instead fall to dangerously low levels. The good news is that some plants (like beans) can add nutrients to the soil (like Nitrogen), making them a perfect veggie to plant before the nitrogen-loving kale.
As a good rule of thumb, there are four types of urban garden plants that will benefit most of crop rotation. They are:
- cruciferous crops: broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale
- root crops: beets, carrots, turnips, parsnips
- solanaceous crops: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, potatoes
- legumes: beans and peas
If you plan to use crop rotation in your urban garden space, follow the list above in order and you can’t go wrong. That means that planting beans and peas in the spaces left vacant by tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and potatoes is your best bet, followed the next season by cruciferous veggies, then root crops.