One of the most important rules of successful gardening is rotating your crops’ garden plots. The plants need a fresh place to live from season to season to avoid the spread of disease that may have gone dormant in the soil from last year’s growth.
Here are the vegetable family names and members most commonly grown. Knowing these groups and their members helps us to safely choose the next season’s crops.
Garlic, onions, leeks, chives, and shallots are all related. These crops are happier growing in cooler weather. They can usually grow despite most frosty nights.
Carrots, cilantro, parsley, celery, dill, and parsnip are all related. These crops are all cool season growers. They can be planted in warm weather and in some climates can be wintered over, but will bolt the next spring-summer. Seeds are very slow to germinate.
Lettuce, artichoke, and sunflowers are members of this family. The sunflowers are happy for hot summer sun but the lettuces are happier to be shielded by a larger plant or planted as a fall crop. They are great pollinators.
Broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbages, collards, kale, cauliflower, radishes, rutabagas, turnips, and yummy cabbage-type greens such as bok choi are all related. These grow really well in cool weather, planting them in either early spring or late summer. In temperate climates they grow all winter. They will usually bolt in warmer temperatures. They all LOVE nitrogen, so be sure to plant them in a garden plot that previously grew some of the Leguminosae family. Avoid acid soil and important to rotate.
Beets, spinach, and Swiss chard are all members of this “goosefoot” family. They grow really well in cool weather, planting them in either early spring or late summer. In temperate climates they grow all winter and harvest is all winter into the following spring. Leaf miner bugs are a problem with these family members.
Squashes, both the many summer and winter varieties, are in this family. This large family also includes delicious cucumbers, melons (including cantaloupe and watermelon), and pumpkins. Unfortunately, the summer bugs, such as the squash bug that can be a vector for the Cucurbit Yellow Vine Disease (CYVD) disease, and worms, such as the squash vine borer, think that the squash are delicious too. If you have bug problems and live in those climates that hope to have a late frost (late November through December), this family can grow with much less of a bug problem if seeds are begun the first of August and planted by the end of the month. Whenever you plant any of this family, however, they require lots of heat, sun, and moist soil from underneath (not overhead sprinklers).
This family is a family of many herbs. The members include basil, rosemary, sage, savory, marjoram, oregano, hyssop, thyme, lavender, and mint. A temperate climate and south-facing, protected garden plot will assure that some of these can grow and be harvested year after year. They are usually drought resistant and tolerate a variety of soils.
This is the Bean family, and they have different preferences for when they grow. The green beans and their yellow and purple varieties prefer warm weather. Also, the many types of field peas, including lima beans, jicama, velvet beans, and black eyed peas love the warm weather as well as their popular family member peanuts.
Those beans in this family who love the cooler weather are the snow peas, English peas, sugar snap peas, fava beans, and Austrian Winter peas.
All members of this family enrich the soil by adding a little nitrogen.
Malvaceae (Mallow) Family
Okra and hibiscus like it REALLY hot and sunny. Their flavor and present are welcome in southern gardens.
Corn, rice, wheat, lemon grass, sugar cane are all members of this family who are happier in the heat and sun.
This group is also called the “nightshade” family. It’s members are tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and potatoes. These plants are often affected by the same pests and diseases, such as the verticillium and fusarium fungi. Rotating them after the harvest season with a member (members) of another vegetable family will assure the best chance that the pests that bother them will not so easily find them again. With the exception of potatoes, they prefer warmth. They are all also heavy feeders and would benefit from being planted after a crop of fava beans of members of the bean/pea family.