University of Illinois Extension

Crop Rotation in the Vegetable Garden

In order to avoid soil fertility, pest, and disease problems, home gardeners need to practice crop rotation.

“Most homeowners tend to grow the types of vegetables they like year after year,” said Maurice Ogutu, U of I Extension horticulturist. “Tomatoes and peppers are some of the vegetables commonly grown by many home gardeners. Due to the limited space in backyards, the ground cannot go fallow, leading to the growing of vegetables in the same area or spot year after year.

“Growing one type of vegetable from the same family in one area for a long period of time may lead to a decline in soil fertility and higher incidences of certain insect pests and disease problems. Soil-borne disease-causing organisms tend to persist in the soil for a long period of time, and some of these organisms tend to attack vegetables from the same botanic families.”

Solanacea or nightshade family--tomato, pepper, eggplant, potato, tomatillo;

Onion family--onions, garlic, leek, shallot, chives;

Cucurbit or gourd family--cucumbers, muskmelon, watermelon, squash, pumpkin, gourd;

Mustard or cole family--cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, turnip, radish, Chinese cabbage, kale, collards, mustard greens, rutabaga;

Legume or pea family--garden pea, snap beans, lima beans, soybean;

Grass family (edible part is seed)--sweet corn, popcorn, ornamental corn;

Carrot family (edible parts are roots, leaves, and leafstalk)--carrots, parsnip, parsley, celery;

Goosefoot family--beet, Swiss chard, spinach;

Sunflower family--lettuce, Jerusalem artichoke, endive, salsify;

Bindweed family (edible part is root)--sweet potato;

Mallow family (edible part is fruit)--okra.

“It is very important to note that while home gardeners grow vegetables from just a few families or just one family such as tomato, pepper, and eggplant, it is necessary to rotate them with vegetables from other families,” said Ogutu.

“This may not be applicable to home gardeners growing vegetables in containers and changing the soil at the end of the growing season.”