One of the most important components of an Integrated Pest Management program for the backyard grower, community gardener or urban farmer is the use of crop rotation. This was the topic of the second round of educational training to support the Buckeye ISA program. Crop rotation means not growing a plant from the same family in the same spot year after year with a targeted goal of at least three years between planting the same family in the same spot. Since families of vegetables share similar pests and diseases as well as can be affected by weeds in similar ways, rotating different plant families every three years can assist in breaking the life cycle of many of the pests and diseases shared.
Here is a list of vegetable families and some common varieties of vegetables in those families:
- This is the Nightshade family, some members are poisonous.
- Vegetables – Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant, Potatoes
- These are the alliums, it is a large family with long roots in agriculture.
- Vegetables – Onions, Leeks, Chives, Garlic
- This is a very large family – also called the cruciferous vegetables.
- Vegetables – broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages, brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, turnips, rutabaga, mustards, collards, kale, radish, asian greens
- Lettuce, artichokes
- This also contains flowering plants such as coneflower, sunflower and dandylion.
- Swiss Chard
- This is another very old family with many members.
- Vegetables – winter squash, summer squash, zucchini, cucumber, watermelons and other melon fruit, pumpkins, mouse melon, gourds
- These are the nitrogen fixing legumes. The plant does not actually fix nitrogen, it is accomplished via a symbiotic relationship with rhizobia bacteria.
- Vegetables – Peas, beans, soybeans, fava beans
- This family is vast. It has many vegetables as well as herbs. Many members of this family are poisonous.
- Vegetables – carrot, celery, parsnip, fennel
- Herbs – parsley, dill, cilantro, chervil
- This family contains the cereal grains. This is important if cover crops from this family are used, they need to be factored in for crop rotation as a vegetable family
- Corn, winter rye, oats
A good way to track your garden year after year is by taking a picture with your phone. Most smart phones will take high quality pictures that are date and sometimes even location stamped. Having an accurate record of plantings during the year will assist in future garden planning for crop rotations.