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Crop rotation in SFGs

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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


Megan

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Re: Crop rotation in SFGs

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 in SFGs

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 in SFGs

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 in SFGs

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 in SFGs

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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Re: Crop rotation in SFGs

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