Saturday, February 13, 2021

Crop Rotation - Rotate, Rotate, Rotate

"The farmer whose soil produces less every year is unkind to it in some way; that is, he is not doing it what he should; he is robbing it of some substance it must have, and he becomes, therefore, a soil robber rather than a progressive farmer." -George Washington Carver

Urban Farm in 2017
Urban Farm in September of 2017

We're going to jump ahead for a quick minute and get you thinking about the future.  Your urban farm is now planned out for this year, think about next years growing season, just for a few minutes.

For subsequent years, you aren't going to plant everything in the exact same spot you are planting them this year, you need to ROTATE everything.  Assuming you did an okay job the first time around with your crash course into companion planting, just rotate everything clockwise.  Your goal should be to not plant the same plants in the exact same spot for another 5 years.  You take your map from this year, rotate everything clockwise so you're not planting anything in the same spot, then hopefully in 5+ years your back to your original map and you just keep that going until the end of time.

If you want to complicate this further, the actual goal is to not plant the same family of plants in the same spot for several years.  However in an extremely confined growing space, such as your backyard, this is very hard to accomplish.  Do what you can and get creative.

Crop rotation is extremely important to regenerative agriculture.  This is literally one of the most important aspects and is on the same level as composting (they are both equally very important).  If you continuously plant the same vegetable in the same spot, it's going to use up the same nutrients in the ground and after a few years the balance of your soil is going to be extremely wonky and deficient in these nutrients that have been used up and suddenly plants won't grow.  Monocultures create food deserts and nutrient deficient dirt where nothing grows.

Dirt = Little to no soil health where plants struggle to grow.  Won't retain much water.  Doesn't do much aside from getting your clothes dirty.

Soil = Jammed packed full of life, nutrients, and microbes.  Acts as a sponge for retaining water.  Everything is balanced and plant life is easily supported.

By rotating everything around, you're also rotating around the nutrients that are used up in the ground year after year, keeping the ground in balance and giving the soil a chance to balance itself out and retain a good chemical composition so you can keep growing anything, anywhere in your urban farm!  Rotate, Rotate, Rotate your crops people!!!

Urban Farm in 2019
Urban Farm in July of 2019.  Two years after the photo above and everything is rotated around!

In the comments below:  What your thoughts are on crop rotation?  What clever ideas have you come up with to help with crop rotation in a small space?  What challenges are you running into with crop rotation?

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