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Post  littlejo 8/26/2011, 11:11 am

I'm having to do a sort of crop rotation. First, I messed up and wanted lots of crops, enough to freeze/can, so, I made several beds and planted numerous sqs. of each item. I planted 1/2 bed with sqs of green beans. I got nematodes which came up from the ground and into the MM. Nematodes love MM. I've been told not to plant green beans in that bed for at least 2 seasons. I have to plant French Marigolds in that bed, grow for 2 months, then turn under. I will be planting F. marigolds in all beds in between the sqs. for my ground has nematodes. I will at least have a pretty garden!

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Post  littlesapphire 8/26/2011, 11:15 am

I plan on doing a little bit of crop rotation, partly because I'm afraid of bugs and disease finding my plants, and partly because I'm curious if certain plants do better in certain spots. Since some of my boxes are in more shade or better wind protection than others, I want to see which plant likes which spot the best. So far I've found the best spot for my squash!
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Post  Feistywidget 11/18/2011, 3:54 pm

I know with traditional row gardening method, you do crop rotation so you don't get pests and to avoid plant diseases, etc.

I'm wondering if this is something you have to do with SFG boxes and if so how often? Basically is it something mandatory with SFG? If it's going to create healthier plants and be beneficial for your SFG, fine. However if it doesn't matter either way, then please let me know. Either way (yes it's mandatory, no it doesn't make any difference) please provide clarification with this.

Every season? By season.....is it the actual season (rotating every spring, summer, winter, fall) or does season mean you rotate at the start of every new year whenever the new season starts in your area?
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Post  camprn 11/18/2011, 3:55 pm

I rotate crops to different boxes each year.

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Post  southern gardener 11/18/2011, 3:57 pm

with ours, it sort of naturally rotates. When we empty a square, we add the compost and just planted a different plant/seed in the square. Really nothing to think about, it just sort of happens.
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Post  RoOsTeR 11/18/2011, 4:00 pm

southern gardener wrote:with ours, it sort of naturally rotates. When we empty a square, we add the compost and just planted a different plant/seed in the square. Really nothing to think about, it just sort of happens.

And that's pretty much the basic idea stated in the book. Very Happy
fiesty, check out page 144 for a bit more on crop rotation. Not as critical as row gardening, but still very much suggested.
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Post  Feistywidget 11/18/2011, 4:04 pm

Um a very stupid question, but here goes anyway. According to the ppl on this forum since you're using 5 different kinds of fertilizer (which is minimum, according to them you could possibly add more) it provides all the nutrients the plant needs.

So if that's the case, why do you have to add compost when you replant?
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Post  camprn 11/18/2011, 4:10 pm

The recipe does not call for fertilizer but 5 different types of compost. I think of the compost as building tilth and nutrition and health to the growing medium, not just adding chemicals, tho those would do the job, sorta...

By adding compost after harvest and before growing something new, it feeds the growing medium, so it in turn will feed the plant so that it in turn will feed me.

And I think it was a very good question! Very Happy

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Post  sherryeo 11/18/2011, 4:47 pm

In other words, the plants use the nutrients in the compost, so you have to replenish it with more, especially at the point where you're ready to plant more veggies in the same squares.
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Post  sfg4uKim 11/18/2011, 4:49 pm

Feisty, I think you would really enjoy the book - it covers the two areas you asked about.

I wouldn't use the word "mandatory", instead crop rotation is automatic because you re-use each square up to 3 times a year (spring, summer & fall crops) depending on how long from planting until harvest.

No matter WHAT method you choose, you should ALWAYS rotate members of the nightshade family and not replant tomatoes, eggplant, etc. in the same square(s) for three years.

Because SFG is such an INTENSIVE method, it takes the nutrients out of the soil more quickly than other methods - thus the reason you will want to add a trowel-full of compost when you harvest a square.

The main areas Mel feels should be strictly adhered to have to do with a wide variety of composts in your mix, thoroughly watering every 2" as you add your Mel's Mix to the raised bed and the grid. He has found that when people don't follow his suggestions, they tend to blame the METHOD instead of the fact that they are not following the method.

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Post  AppleofGODseye 3/29/2012, 10:58 am

We know you are not supose to replant the same plant in the same spot every season, but we don't know what to follow the different plants with.

Is there someplace that tells us how to rotate the crops?

If we should put roots after leaf or leaf after root, etc.

Does it matter?
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Post  GloriaG 3/29/2012, 1:56 pm

I know opinions vary on this, but I believe that the best crop rotation is to follow each crop with ones that consecutively use a different major soil nutrient so that the soil can have time to rest and regenerate before having to support the same crop needs again. i.e.

Always add your regular scoop of compost before you plant each crop. Then start with:

LEAF CROPS which use nitrogen such as - Lettuce, mesclun greens, herbs, cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, etc. follow them with:

FRUIT CROPS which use phosphorus such as - Tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, peppers, eggplant, etc. follow these with:

ROOT CROPS which use potassium such as - radish, carrots, turnips, beets, onions, leeks, etc. followed by:

LEGUMES which either don't require soil nitrogen or add small amounts of it back to the soil such as - Peas, beans, and potatoes (because they are not nitrogen users)

Then start over - that provides a rotation of four separate crops that all use different nutrients from the soil.

But keep in mind that the scoop of compost you add to the MM should have all the nutrients your plants need.
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Post  AvaDGardner 3/29/2012, 2:31 pm

Thanks for asking this question, and the understandable list!

This is something I've puzzled over A LOT. Especially when you have permenant structures attached to your boxes for certain types of plants. It makes rotation thoughts more difficult.

I also appreciate the info that "fruits" means more than just obvious fruits like "berries." I'd never thought of it that way.

But then, you run into what to do with your perennial plants. For me, that's strawberries. They are rather like spider plants - one established with off shoot babies. And you get more production from established plants. So how do you rotate them?

I also puzzle over how to add phosphorus. It's the one thing I'm consistently low on. Since everything is pretty much planted now, I'm wondering if there is a liquid something I can add to feed but not disturb the plants.
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Post  GloriaG 3/29/2012, 3:16 pm

Perennial plants don't need to be rotated -only amended with compost when you do your "spring-cleaning".

Phosphorus can be increased by adding Bonemeal.
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Post  camprn 3/29/2012, 3:21 pm

A very light sprinkling of wood ash would add a bit of phosphorus to the soil; Do not add too much as it will adjust the soil pH.

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Post  littlejo 3/30/2012, 6:59 am

For strawberries, mulch with pine straw, for they like high acidity as do tomatoes and potatoes.
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Post  AvaDGardner 4/9/2012, 5:20 pm

I would LOVE to have pine mulch. It would add much needed acid to our soil. I can't find it at the stores...is the only left pet stores? I'm concerned it would be overpriced there.

Camp, does wood ash adjust pH to acid or alkaline? Not that I have any...
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Post  camprn 4/9/2012, 6:24 pm

Wood Ash is said to 'sweeten the soil', makes it less acid. It also contains trace elements beneficial to growing plants.

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Post  littlejo 4/9/2012, 8:16 pm

AvaDGardner wrote:I would LOVE to have pine mulch. It would add much needed acid to our soil. I can't find it at the stores...is the only left pet stores? I'm concerned it would be overpriced there.
Camp, does wood ash adjust pH to acid or alkaline? NYou mightot that I have any...

You might try a farmers market or a store that sells feed. If they don't sell pine straw, they will know who does. Also check big box garden centers or places that sell mulch. Shouldn't be too expensive. Jo


Last edited by littlejo on 4/9/2012, 8:18 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : formatting gone wrong!)
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Post  GWN 4/9/2012, 8:19 pm

I believe that it adds potassium to the soil.
Which some crops find beneficial, such as potatoes
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Post  Carleen 4/9/2012, 8:26 pm

Penn State has a PDF of crop rotation; I found another great list at dannylipford.com
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Post  Chopper 4/9/2012, 9:52 pm

AppleofGODseye wrote:We know you are not supose to replant the same plant in the same spot every season, but we don't know what to follow the different plants with.

Is there someplace that tells us how to rotate the crops?

If we should put roots after leaf or leaf after root, etc.

Does it matter?

There are a lot of good answers here, but one of the advantages of this method is crop rotating takes care of itself, especially if you have a spring and/or fall garden. The one thing I watch out for the most is tomatoes and try to mix it up as far as where I plant them. So far it has been easy because I keep moving. LOL. But since you are replacing nutrients with compost each change of square, you needn't stress over it too much. You are not committing a whole 40 acres to one crop that is going to forever become a nematode scourge or anything like that.
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Post  Turan 4/10/2012, 9:30 am

GloriaG wrote:I know opinions vary on this, but I believe that the best crop rotation is to follow each crop with ones that consecutively use a different major soil nutrient so that the soil can have time to rest and regenerate before having to support the same crop needs again. i.e.

Always add your regular scoop of compost before you plant each crop. Then start with:

LEAF CROPS which use nitrogen such as - Lettuce, mesclun greens, herbs, cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, etc. follow them with:

FRUIT CROPS which use phosphorus such as - Tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, peppers, eggplant, etc. follow these with:

ROOT CROPS which use potassium such as - radish, carrots, turnips, beets, onions, leeks, etc. followed by:

LEGUMES which either don't require soil nitrogen or add small amounts of it back to the soil such as - Peas, beans, and potatoes (because they are not nitrogen users)

Then start over - that provides a rotation of four separate crops that all use different nutrients from the soil.

But keep in mind that the scoop of compost you add to the MM should have all the nutrients your plants need.
I like this, has enough structure and logic.
I have just rolled by the seat of my pants, trying to never follow same with same. The first SFG book talks about that by doing things in squares you make it easy to follow one planting with something different and thus result in rotation happening though unplanned. I find htat works great with leafy greens and roots like beets and carrots but the trouble comes with peas and nightshade family(tomato, eggplant, peppers, potato) and unruly vines like winter squash. Those really do best in certain spots in hte garden.
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Post  AvaDGardner 4/10/2012, 9:17 pm

Chopper wrote:There are a lot of good answers here, but one of the advantages of this method is crop rotating takes care of itself, especially if you have a spring and/or fall garden. The one thing I watch out for the most is tomatoes and try to mix it up as far as where I plant them. So far it has been easy because I keep moving. LOL. But since you are replacing nutrients with compost each change of square, you needn't stress over it too much. You are not committing a whole 40 acres to one crop that is going to forever become a nematode scourge or anything like that.
I googled the Penn State article, only to realize it can vary by crop, and by geographic area. Then I did a search for California. The first hit was Farmer Fred Rant, a site I found before regarding a different subject.

Chopper, you might find this interesting: http://farmerfredrant.blogspot.com/2010/08/its-crop-rotation-time-do-you-have-room.html. He has a pie chart for the rotation.

If you like scotch, one of his posts for Dec 2010 was a review of them all! HA!
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Post  quiltbea 4/11/2012, 6:37 am

I try to keep my rotation as close to Eliot Coleman's plan as I can. He's a very successful Organic gardener. He, too, is a northeast gardener like me and also a respected garden book (Four-Season Harvest) author.

Sweet Corn (chop up the stalks and bury them in the soil), followed next time by:

Potatoes, next come

Peas (plant cover crop in fall, like oats, if you can), next come

Brassicas: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Turnip, Radishes, next

Tomatoes, Peppers and Eggplant, next

Cukes, Squash, Melons, Zucchini, Pumpkin, next

Root Crops and Salad Crops: Lettuce, Carrots, Parsnips, Onions, Garlic, Spinach, Swiss Chard, followed by

Beans,

Then start all over again.

With a SFG and different crops in each square, it means lots of planning ahead for the coming year, but its such fun for a winter project. If I don't put in a crop, I just skip to the next one on the list, like sweet corn to peas if no potatoes scheduled. It's not a strict plan but it means less depletion of soil needs for the next crop.
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