The Q&A Archives: Rotating Crops

Question: I have a small raised-bed garden. What can I plant in the space where I had leeks last year? I know there are certain vegetables that should not follow others, and I do not want to risk a bad crop in my small garden.

Answer: Rotation reduces the population of pests and diseases that concentrate in the soil, and can also be used to manage soil nutrients. Leeks are members of the onion family, so do not plant onions or garlic in the same spot year after year. Plants within the squash family (including pumpkins, melons, and cucumbers), the brassica family (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts), and the tomato family (including peppers, eggplants, and potatoes) should be rotated on at least a three-year basis. An easy schedule is to rotate the groups above while also alternating with greens (lettuce, mesclun) and legumes (beans and peas).

Some gardeners also consider whether or not a plant is a heavy feeder, such as tomatoes, corn, and the brassicas; a light feeder, such as greens, root vegetables, bulbs, and herbs; or a legume, such as peas and beans, which are often used to follow the heavy feeders.

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