Crop Rotation


Crop Rotation is a vital part of preventing diseases from infecting your soil. If the same crop is grown each year in the same part of your garden, disease organisms can build up in the soil over time that take many years to control. During those years, all members of the affected plant family cannot be grown in that soil, which can be a devastating blow to your dinner table. To understand how to plan for crop rotation, it's important to know which crops belong to the same plant family, and can therefore be affected by the same diseases.
a. The Brassica family includes Broccoli, Cabbage, Kale, Bok Choi, and other cool-season favorites. Club root is the most serious fungal disease that affects all members of this family.
b. The Nightshade family includes Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant, and Potatoes. Early and late blight are closely-related fungal diseases that affect all members of this family.
c. The Onion family includes Leeks, Chives, Shallots, and Garlic. Rust fungus and Bacterial Soft Rot are diseases that affect all members of this family.
d. It's best to plan for a 3-year rotation cycle in your garden, and to make a rotation map that you can use each year to keep track of where you have planted each family. Here is a link to a sample crop rotation map that also illustrates some of the other garden planning concepts in this design guide: Sample Crop Rotation Map

Nurse Planting


Nurse-planting is a form of interplanting, with the additional goal of taking advantage of one crop's characteristics to benefit another crop, and prevent stress that can result in pest or disease problems.

a. For example, excess summer sun and heat can cause spinach, lettuce, and other salad greens to either become susceptible to insects pests or to "bolt" (send up flower stalks) and become bitter-tasting. To prevent this, plant tomatoes amongst your spring salad greens in May, or sow a summer crop of salad greens underneath your tomato plants. Either way, the greens will thrive much more in dappled shade of the tomatoes during the hottest days of summer.

Trap Cropping


Trap-cropping is a way to purposefully attract pests to a plant which is grown to be a 'sacrifice' that is eventually removed from the garden after becoming infested, sparing the other food crops.

a. For example, planting Nasturtiums in early spring causes a huge growth spurt of succulent stems and leaves, and aphids seem to be attracted to them like magnets, preferring them over many of our favorite early spring vegetables. Once the Nasturtium plants are thoroughly infested with aphids, pull them up out of the garden and dispose of them in the yard waste bin to spare your Broccoli, Cabbage, and Brussels Sprouts! Tip: If you love Nasturiums (the flowers are tasty too), plant the seeds again in mid-June and the plants will grow slower and stouter in the summer heat, and much less likely to become infested.

All photos on this page are the property of Emily Bishton

  • No labels