Vegetable crop rotation

As you’re sketching out your veggie garden plans for this year, be sure not to plant the same vegetables in the same location as last year. Vegetable crops are affected by a large number of diseases and if you don’t rotate them, you’re risking a build-up of disease.

Tim Coolong is a horticulture professor at the University of Georgia. He says it’s also a good idea to avoid planting closely related crops in the same area since diseases can be shared among them.

"Most people like to grow tomatoes at home. And so, within the solanaceous family you have tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and potatoes, so definitely not following those crops with one of the same is important," says Coolong. "Then the other probably most popular crop group would be your cucurbits, your squashes, your melons."

 For crop rotation to be most effective, don’t plant an area with vegetables from the same plant family more than every three to four years. This is tough if you have a small garden, but perhaps you could leave one side fallow or have raised beds. Cover crops would add nutrients, build the soil and prevent erosion. Better yet, try growing and eating something entirely new.

Coolong says there is another option.

"One of the things that can work pretty well in a home garden is that corn does not share a lot of diseases with some of these other crops. Most grass crops are pretty good for rotation, so having some sweet corn that you could incorporate into your mix in your garden would be very helpful from a disease standpoint," he says.

Keep it all straight with a garden log or map as a reminder of where your veggies are planted each year.