Plants within the same family tend to draw the similar nutrients from the soil and become susceptible to similar pests and diseases. To keep the garden healthy, then, organic gardeners do their best to rotate their crops from year to year. For example, if potatoes were planted in the middle bed this year, then next year, you would be sure not to plant any potatoes there again. But you wouldn’t plant any eggplant, tomatoes, or peppers there, either, since they are all in the same family. In fact, you wouldn’t plant any solanaceae crops there again until three years later, after the soil had recovered and any pests had died off.

Crop rotation requires careful planning. Two garden practices can make rotation a lot easier:

  • Plant in blocks. If you have three beds, and you are planning on planting tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers (all in the Solanaceae family), put these three crops all in the same bed together.
  • Take notes. It often helps to draw a diagram of your garden so that you know what was where and when. It may feel like you’ll be able to remember, but a lot can happen in a year, and you’ll want to remember where those peppers were last year.
Crop Family Crops Included
Apiaceae carrots, celery, celery root, cilantro, dill, fennel, parsley, parsnip
Asteraceae artichoke, chicory, dandelion, endive, lettuce, sunflower, tarragon
Brassicaceae arugula, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, cress, kale, kohlrabi, mizuna, mustard ,radish, rutabaga, tat soi, turnip, watercress
Chenopodiaceae beet, orach, spinach, swiss chard
Convolvulaceae sweet potato, morning glory
Cucurbitacecae cantaloupe, cucumber, gourd, loofa, melon, pumpkin, summer squash, winter squash
Fabaceae beans, peas, peanuts, soybeans
Lamiaceae basil, lavender, marjoram, mint, oregano, sage, savory, thyme
Liliaceae asparagus, chives, garlic, green onions, leeks, onions, shallots
Malvaceae okra, hollyhock, hibiscus
Poaceae corn, wheat, barley, rice
Solanaceae eggplant, sweet pepper, hot pepper, potato, tomato