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Crop rotation for vegetables
Rip Winkel

Due to being out of town this week, I am forwarding for print this article from KSU’s Horticultural Department on the importance of rotating crops that are typically grown in back yard vegetable gardens. It is recommended that this rotation is practiced every season, in three year cycles. Rotation helps avoid soil-borne diseases like verticillium wilt, and pests like nematodes, and beetle larvae. If you opt not to rotate your vegetable crops, you may eventually find yourself fighting off problems that would have otherwise been avoided. Here is the article:

Rotating vegetable crops is a standard way of helping prevent disease from being carried over from one year to the next. Rotation means that crops are moved to different areas of the garden each year. Planting the same crop, or a related crop, in the same area each year can lead to a build-up of [various diseases]. Also, different crops vary in the depth and density of the root system as well as extract different levels of nutrients. As a rule, cool-season crops such as cabbage, peas, lettuce and onions have relatively sparse, shallow root systems and warm-season crops such as tomatoes, peppers and melons have deeper, better developed root systems. Therefore, it can be helpful to rotate warm-season and cool-season crops.

As mentioned earlier, it is also a good idea to avoid planting closely related crops in the same area as diseases may be shared among them. For example, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplant are closely related, [i.e. nightshade or Solanaceae group]. Also, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and brussels sprouts share many characteristics in common [i.e. Curcurbitaceae family]. So, it is recommended that you do not plant cabbage where broccoli was the previous year or tomatoes where the peppers were.

Why is this important to bring this up in the fall? Now is the time to make a sketch of your garden so that the layout is not forgotten when it is time to plant next year. 

Rip Winkel is the Horticulture agent in the Cottonwood District (Barton and Ellis Counties) for K-State Research and Extension. You can contact him by e-mail at or calling either 785-682-9430, or 620-793-1910.