The Q&A Archives: Rotating Crops

Question: I have limited space in my raised beds. How often do I need to rotate the planting areas for tomatoes? I think I could manage every other year, is this sufficient? Also, does planting other vegetables in the space help? I have a compost bin, and avoid dumping diseased vegetation in it because I don't think it gets hot enough to kill all the microrganisms. I use this compost on my flowers, and have put it in my vegetable beds. Should I stop using it on my vegetables?

Answer: As long as you're keeping diseased plant parts out of the compost bin, finished compost can be used in both veggie and flower gardens. A properly maintained compost pile will heat up and produce finished compost in a shorter period of time. If yours isn't heating up, try turning the contents a little more often. Move the center material to the outside edges and the outside material into the center. Nitrogen rich (green) matter will also help heat things up.

Crop rotation is always a good idea. I try to alternate crops in my veggie beds by planting an above ground crop (such as tomatoes), a leafy crop (lettuce or cabbage) and then a root crop (carrots or radishes). This gives a 3 year interval between same-family crops. As long as you don't follow a member of the same family in the same plot, there shouldn't be a problem with overwintering insects or diseases. Be sure to keep records and do a little homework - tomatoes, eggplant and potatoes are all members of the same family and should not be planted in succession.

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