Even with a few vegetable crops already planted, it is good to remember to rotate where you do your planting. This is a longtime practice to reduce disease, fertility and insect issues. A three-year wait between planting the same crop in the same location is suggested. It is a challenge in a small garden but a goal to be working toward.

The word crop may be deceiving. Rotation among families is the real purpose. Solanaceae is the nightshade or tobacco family. It includes tomato, all peppers, eggplants, potatoes and tobacco.

One should not plant a tomato followed by a pepper the next year in the same spot. That is not a crop rotation. Planting a summer squash after the tomato would be a rotation.

A challenge with rotation is that not all crops require the same amount of space. A tomato needs about a 2 feet by 2 feet amount of space. The watermelon I want to plant in that tomato space may need 8 feet by 8 feet of space. This is where drawing your garden out on graph paper could be an asset.

Learning whose part of the family can be interesting. The Brassicaceae or mustard family has many relatives. Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and kale seems easily identified as related. Also in the same family are the mustard, bok choy and radish.

Lamiaceae is the mint family. These plants have square or four-sided stems. Plants in this family include basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage and mints.

Carrot, parsley, cilantro, fennel and celery belong to the parsley family.

Beet, chard and spinach are related. Lettuce, okra and corn are vegetable loners in their individual families. Onion, garlic, leek and chive are in the Alliaceae family.

Fabaceae is the bean and pea family. The last one is the Cucurbitaceae which includes the vining crops like melons and squash.

Rotating between these crop families should be worth the effort in improving production.

You can find out more information on gardening by going to Riley County’s K-State Research and Extension website at www.oznet.ksu.edu/riley.

You may contact Gregg Eyestone at the Riley County office of K-State Research and Extension by calling 537-6350, stopping by 110 Courthouse Plaza in Manhattan or e-mailing geyeston@ksu.edu.

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