Five reasons you should be rotating your crops

After many questions, I felt it was the perfect time to address the important garden ritual of crop rotation.

“Why rotate my crops”, you ask!

Crop rotation is a big discussion which I could literally talk about for hours, so I thought I would touch on the beginning stages of this, and keep it simple and easy to understand.

I think there are five key reasons why crop rotation is an absolute must for an abundant garden:

  1. It keeps the soil productive because different vegetables require different nutrients
  2. Soil doesn’t get depleted, so you don’t have to work so hard to re-nourish it
  3. It creates less pest and disease build up because different crops attract different pests so they move on, rather than taking hold
  4. It helps your soil work for you and your plants – making gardening more convenient in the long-run
  5. Supports your plants, offering them better health and nutrients

By rotating your crops, it helps to keep the soil productive, as different vegetables have different requirements of the soil. Plants get grouped together according to their soil requirements – this means that in year one, you might plant a group of plants in area 1, and then in year 2 you move this group of plants to area 2 and so on. If you plant the same crop in the same space year in and year out, the soil will simply become depleted and prone to disease, as the plants are constantly taking the same nutrients from the soil.

The ideal programme that I would recommend is a 3-4-year crop rotation, so that your plants will be in a different bed for 2-3 years. However, if you only have two beds, the best strategy here would be not to have the same plant in the same position year after year.

I live on and manage a property that has never had a vegetable grown on it, and I have started from scratch by making my own raised beds, as the clay on Waiheke is not easy to dig. Crop rotation can still be done if you have raised beds on your deck or patio.

My new bigger beds are split into sections for three different crop groups, so I can rotate within that bed. The reason for this is that I am used to growing massive gardens for restaurants, rather than just for me and the visitors I have stay, so it is time to scale down a bit now!

So what do I rotate – what goes with what?

Let’s look at the groups of plants…

Your most flexible plants that can be inter-planted with anything are lettuce, beetroot, carrots, herbs and beneficial flowers. As you get more experienced with the practice, you will be able to pop the odd plant in here and there as you have space.

The key is to keep the ‘main crops’ in rotation, which I have identified below. I have tried to simplify the Latin names and groups. Not all veg are here, but it will give you a general idea.

Cabbage Family

Bean Family – Legume Beetroot Family


Beans, all varieties Beetroot







Cavolo Nero







Onion Family

Potato Family

Carrot Family










Elephant garlic








Melon Family














This is a rough guide so you can see how the plants fit into different families. One of the ways to identify the family for yourself is they usually have the same or very similar flowers to one another.

What if I’ve made a mistake in my planting – should I dig out and relocate something that doesn’t belong in the group?

If you have made a mistake, just make a note and change it next planting – it is all part of the gardening experience as you develop your knowledge.

Please try not to get frustrated when learning this, especially if you are new to this practice. Gardening and growing food is a lifetime of learning, through trial and error which in turn we learn from. If you do nothing else, make sure you don’t plant the same veg in the same place year after year.

I hope this answers some of your questions on crop rotation.  Remember I am always here to help with your growing journey and would be happy to put together a plan for your garden if you would like a consultation. Always reach out!

Happy Gardening and enjoy the summer!



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