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Crop rotation

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rotation of tomato crops???

Post  dschenko on 4/14/2010, 11:10 pm

I have 2 4X8 boxes, and this will be my 4th year of using the sfg method. I ordered the plastic netting that is on the site and it has worked great. The problem is that I've decided this year to just do what I love, Tomatoes, a few peppers and cucumbers. The first year I planted everything, the second year I put tomatos across the back, the third year across the middle. I've read that tomatoes shouldn't be grown consectivly in the same space. What should I add to the soil to help it? I've run out of places to rotate cause I plant so many varietys of tomatos.

P.S. I couldn't find the vermiculite so the combination is lots of composts, peat, soil and manure. After all these seasons it is as soft and fluffy as it was when I started. I just worry about putting the same crops in year after year.

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Re: Crop rotation

Post  mckr3441 on 4/15/2010, 12:06 am

I certainly am no expert on crop rotation however... my husband has planted his tomatoes in the same place along the edge of our yard for 45 years and he doesn't seem to have any problems. Every now and then he adds some amendment but not more than two or three times total.

Last year he added some Mel's Mix! Now, that did make for a better crop.

I would say that in the SFG if you are going to plant the same crop in the same square each year I would at least replenish each square with a couple of scoops of fresh compost. Come to think of it, I'm going to suggest the same thing to my husband!

Welcome to the Forum, dschenko. I hope someone with more "current" thinking will chime in here and give you some alternatives.

Claire
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Re: Crop rotation

Post  Kabaju42 on 4/15/2010, 12:15 am

Welcome dschenko!

I've had friends grow tomatoes in the same place year after year and never had any problems, but on the other hand I know others that sear by crop rotation. I would say as long as you're taking care of your SFGs like normal (just add some new compost each time you put in a new plant) you should be fine.
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Re: Crop rotation

Post  dschenko on 4/15/2010, 10:01 pm

Thanks, I will add more compost in this weekend. I haven't had any problems but it doesn't hurt to ask out there for any ideas.

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Reasons for rotation...

Post  organicgardeningzen.com on 4/15/2010, 11:06 pm

I'm pretty sure one of the reasons behind rotation is for disease prevention (the other reason was soil nutrient depletion, which can be overcome with soil amendments). So I guess if your tomato crop was healthy, then the following year's crop will be fine in the same spot...the problem comes arises if you have a diseased plant and the soil doesn't get "cleansed" (by sun, water, and rest) and you plant the same crop the following year. Theoretically, rotation of crops gives the soil a rest (change is as good as a rest, I guess!)

This is just what I've gathered from my reading...please don't take anything I say as gospel, as I'm still a pretty new gardener!
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Crop rotation in SFGs

Post  Megan on 8/9/2010, 6:25 pm

I started to post a reply to the topic below, but I realized it really was a new topic, so, here goes. Smile

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/welcome-mat-f3/what-happens-if-i-plant-green-beans-in-the-same-spot-t3705.htm#28076

belfrybat wrote:You risk transferring possible diseases when planting the same crop in the same place. That being said, it's exactly what I did. Just be sure to add plenty of compost to give the new plants a boost. I will not plant beans in that same spot next year.

belfry, this reminds me of a question I have been wanting to ask the forum for quite some time. I am confused by crop rotation as it applies to SFGs.

Mel's book says rotation is a good idea but not critical (page 144 of the newest edition.) At the end of this fall, I had been planning on digging more compost into my SFG. In my head, this entails removing the lattice (which is cord in my case), adding soil amendments, and raking it in well. I also have high-rise boxes I was planning on moving to different areas for next year... and that implies emptying them into pails, or the SFGs themselves, for moving into the new location for next spring.

All in all: This is potentially a LOT of dirt moving. So the soil from the squares that grew potatoes, brassicas, beans, etc. this year is now all over the place. Insect casings/eggs are moved around too. Plus, I don't see how moving your brassicas 3 feet that-a-way is going to protect you, anyway? Surely the bugs will move that small distance??

I did a search on crop rotation here on the forum and came up with this link: http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/northern-central-midwest-f12/rotation-of-tomato-crops-t1401.htm?highlight=crop+rotation

My personal (and very uneducated!) opinion so far is that nutrients can be depleted, but rotating to prevent pests is probably not going to work in a SFG, unless you have many boxes where you really could move your crops around substantially. I just have an 8x3 and a 9x4.

I have a little more to say on this, but am curious what everyone else thinks.

Thanks! Smile

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Re: Crop rotation

Post  Garden Angel on 8/10/2010, 12:37 pm

I see your point , interesting , do you think he is assuming using more boxes? I don't know but I was sort of thinking along the same lines because he always says to plant a different plant in each square and I have this compulsion to want to plant all the same (if I'm going to plant more than one of the same plant) plant together side by side and only consider companion planting as a guide, or if it needs a trellis or space. Then of couse I would not plant from the same family next season but maybe in a different box altogether. Adding compost and changing family and rotating a season I guess would be ok , does that make any sense?
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Re: Crop rotation

Post  boffer on 8/10/2010, 1:03 pm

This is the fifth year I've filled up the same box with carrots. It's the sixth year growing corn in the same patch. I alternate boxes between beans and peas each year, but that probably doesn't accomplish anything except create a change of scenery! If I plant 8 squares of the same plant, I spread them out amongst boxes-a couple squares here, a couple squares there. I don't keep notes, and I don't make a big deal of rotating, so stuff does get grown in the same square several years in a row.

I think this works for me because I haven't had any disease issues or serious bug infestations. As long as I amend each square with 5 way compost when re-planting, things work just as Mel describes. In the garden, when there are several options to choose from, I always pick the one that involves the least amount of work! reading
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crop rotation

Post  ander217 on 8/10/2010, 5:38 pm

Personally I plan to rotate tomatoes and potatoes to different areas because in this region diseases can build up in the soil if they aren't rotated. I don't want to take the chance that they might build up in Mel's Mix, too. As far as corn and most other crops go, I think if one replenishes the nutrients as Boffer said, it should be okay to replant most other crops in the same box.

In fact, there might be advantages to planting beans and peas where they have grown before since the seed won't need to be inoculated before planting.
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Re: Crop rotation

Post  Megan on 8/10/2010, 5:57 pm

ander217 wrote:Personally I plan to rotate tomatoes and potatoes to different areas because in this region diseases can build up in the soil if they aren't rotated. I don't want to take the chance that they might build up in Mel's Mix, too.

This is one of the points I had more thoughts on.

My potatoes are in a 4 x 1 highrise 18" tall. It is not entirely full of MM, there's a lot of straw in there too, which has been breaking down. Still, there is a LOT of dirt in there.

I had originally planned on rotating the high-rise to another area next year, for reasons you mention. However, I don't want to leave it where it is after harvest because it's in the front yard. The original plan had been to empty it, store the soil in buckets, and put both the buckets and the high-rises in the backyard for the winter. Then, re-site and re-fill next year.

However, it dawned on me that if I did that, I would only be moving the boxes. I'd still be using the same soil!

Next option: Temporarily store the soil, then when the SFG is clear, dump the soil back in and try to refill them from the other end of the garden. Again, this is a LOT of soil... so it's going to be hard to refill the buckets without getting a lot of the original stuff in there. I suppose I could use a tarp to get the buckets empty. However... even if I do that, the rest of the soil from that bed will now have "potato cooties" (if you will please pardon the expression)! And the new potato box will be right next to some of that soil.

So best I can do 2 years in the first bed, 2 years in the second bed, and then back to the first again. If I figured that out right. :scratch: I am still waiting to see how my taters do in all that straw. Maybe an alternative is to use only straw and ditch it at the end of the season, but there's still the underlying soil beneath the high-rise....
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Re: Crop rotation

Post  Odd Duck on 8/10/2010, 6:09 pm

I don't know if this will help you at all (with my vast experience of 1 season of potato growing), but I grew mine in great big plastic tree pots, then dumped all of the growing media (compost, soil and pinestraw) into the compost heap. I realized that I would eventually get some "potato cooties" coming back around in the compost, but figured it would be "diluted" enough to not matter.

My original thought was that I would be rotating some of the "major" crops through the pots like it was another bed, but as I was dumping the contents I was like, "Well this won't really work to rotate through, I'll have to "dump" the entire potato bed every year." Huh, back to rethinking, then decided they're probably not worth growing for me, but it was fun to try them.

I don't know how you want to do it, but maybe you could dump the whole mix into the compost and refill the same box with "fresh" compost? Just a thought.

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Re: Crop rotation

Post  Megan on 8/10/2010, 6:16 pm

That might work, thank you Odd Duck. My bin composter isn't very big, though... my compost wouldn't be very diluted at all. Hmm. My biggest hesitancy, though, is that I really don't want to remix a whole batch of MM just to refill one potato box. Lots of leftover, expensive mix to store. (More boxes?? I'm running out of places to put them! Very Happy)

We grew potatoes when I was growing up and I don't THINK we rotated them, but I was pretty small at the time. I may just go Boffer's route and take the risk.
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Potato rotation

Post  ander217 on 8/11/2010, 7:32 am

Here is a pretty good article on potato diseases and how to prevent them. I think every single one mentions at least a three-year crop rotation as a preventative. (It also said to never compost rotting store-bought potatoes, which makes me think that composting doesn't destroy some of the diseases.)

http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/pests/plant_pests/veg_fruit/hgic2214.html

This next article suggested never growing a crop more than three years in a row in the same spot in the home garden, and if a pest problem or disease appears, rotate and don't plant back in that spot for at least two years.

http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/vegetable/rotating-vegetables.htm

These articles are based on the assumption that one is growing in soil. I have no idea if Mel's Mix would make a difference.
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Rotating crops

Post  Bec on 8/26/2010, 8:08 am

Maybe I'm making this too hard. Anyone have a better idea? Most of my trellises are used to support winter squashes (butternut and pumpkin). The only way I can think of to still have the winter squashes on the trellises when rotating crops is to rotate the dirt. I know that sounds really dumb (and a lot of work) but I don't know what else to do. All of my winter squashes suffered from powdery mildew so I'm afraid to not rotate the crops. Most of my boxes are trellised on one side so adding trellises isn't feasible. (Moving the trellises to the other side would cause shade issues.) Any ideas?

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Rotating Crops

Post  GloriaG on 8/26/2010, 8:51 am

Bec,

This is my first year gardening so I'm certainly not the expert - but that's what I'm doing.
I have six specific spots where I can plant trellised crops. I'm can move the plants a little, but it's not enough because they will be in the same plant family (squash and melons).

So I moved most of the soil from those area. Since it really only involves a few squares, it wasn't such a bad job. I used two pieces of plastic on the ground to move the soil around. I swapped it with the mels mix I had my beans in. I also added more compost.

I really couldn't think of any other way to "rotate" those crops.

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Re: Crop rotation

Post  SFG in Chicago on 8/26/2010, 4:08 pm

I'm a first timer too. I only have one 4x8 box so crop rotation really isn't an option. Best I can do is rake the mix around a bit.

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Rotating crops

Post  Bec on 8/26/2010, 5:38 pm

Maybe there just isn't a better answer. I guess I'll just rotate the "dirt". The positive tradeoff with SFG is that there's no weeding! Very Happy

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Re: Crop rotation

Post  pattipan on 8/26/2010, 7:12 pm

We rotate dirt, Bec. And on this SFG forum it doesn't sound dumb! It's the only way to do it when there's only one side of the garden that's North. thinking

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Re: Crop rotation

Post  jenjehle on 8/26/2010, 8:10 pm

Funny timing for this topic!! Just today I sent in a question to my local gardening radio show asking the Horticultural Educator what I should do next year since I can't really rotate crops with raised beds and trellises.

His first answer of course was that ultimately rotating is best. But if that's not possible to do just what you're all suggesting... rotate dirt. He mentioned tilling in new compost but of course, tilling isn't really an option w/raised beds is it Smile??

I had a bad cause of powdery mildew on my cucumbers last year and this. So I'm going to try a few things next year. First, I'm going to use only disease resistant cuk seeds. Then, I'm going to add fresh compost after turning the soil and mixing it all up as much as possible.

After all that, if I STILL get powdery mildew then the next year, I'll just plant flowers!

Take care,
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Rotating Crops

Post  Ray'ssfg on 8/26/2010, 11:18 pm

Smile Hi Bec,
Here where I live in Australia we are fortunate that we can grow veg's all year round so I have 3 crops in each square so you can get a rotation naturally.
That said I still have the issue of disease and fixed trellis as you do because of shading etc if I rotate. Pumkins need to be on a corners so they can run off onto the lawn, that sort of thing.
I have found that I can plant the same things each year in a square but I need to pay attention to the compost and make sure I put plenty in and also regularly feed with fish or seaweed fertiliser. Some plants like Tomatoes are heavy feeders so I really pile in the compost after them. If you can keep your plants growing strongly it seems to help greatly.
Not perhaps ideal, but does work and most of us have restrictions because of our garden size.
The interesting and fun thing about sfg is you can continually experiment and you have not wasted your whole bed if it dosn't work. I have never had a year where everything worked, mostly does which makes it worthwhile.
cheers Cheers Ray Down Under cheers
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Crop Rotation

Post  clfraser on 4/26/2011, 10:45 pm

Do you rotate what is in each square between fall and spring etc. For example, come fall I would plant something other than tomatoes in the squares I have tomatoes? Or would I plant tomatoes there again and then move them in the spring?
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Re: Crop rotation

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 4/26/2011, 11:09 pm

Personally, I'm planning to be pretty random this year. That way the rotation mostly takes care of itself. I will do lots of lettuces, radishes, and beans, though. Lots of frequent harvesters.
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Re: Crop Rotation

Post  happycamper on 4/27/2011, 2:44 am

Crop rotation is one of the benefits of a productive Square Foot Garden. After harvest, the square is empty. Simply add your compost and plant something else. I try and make sure that whatever is added to an empty square will have time to grow before winter or I make sure the plant is winter hardy so that it can be harvested during winter.

You may live in a warmer climate and not have to worry so much about low winter temps however. Happy Gardening!
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Re: Crop rotation

Post  camprn on 4/27/2011, 6:28 am

Crop Rotation, the basics <~~~ click
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Re: Crop rotation

Post  quiltbea on 4/27/2011, 1:29 pm

The basic idea of crop rotation is to plant something from another family.
The crop harvested has depleted all the energy from the soil that it needs for its growth.
You don't want to plant the same thing in the same place because its been depleted, yet a crop from a different family of plants can benefit because it uses other things from the soil.

Of course, adding a couple of scoops of compost to the space before you put in the new crop will probably deal with the problem adequately.
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Re: Crop rotation

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