- Describe the benefits of rotating crops
- Identify beneficial plant pairings in succession
Rotating crops is nothing new. Farmers in the Middle East employed this practice 6000 years before Christ. And the Bible speaks of the “Sabbath of the Land” when farmers would essentially ignore their fields – no tilling, weeding, or pest control – every seventh year.
Just like anything else that is overused, land becomes less productive if it isn’t cared for in the proper manner. Rotating crops is imperative in maintaining good soil structure, nutrient density, and yield potential. What one plant pulls from the soil, another replenishes. It’s the way Mother Nature designed it.
Understanding how the rotation of crops improves the soil and biota, as well as the plants that perform well following one another, is key to maximizing future yields.
Tools & Materials
- Chalkboard or SMARTBoard
- Crop Rotation Log
- Yield bump
- Soil structure
- Soil compression
Introduction (10 minutes)
Begin the lesson with an overview of crop rotation and its benefits. Offer a few examples of varieties that would follow each other and why.
Activity (20 minutes)
Create a planting map and rotation plan as a group. Using the chalkboard or SMARTBoard, create a diagram of your raised planters. Break them down anyway you like. You can follow the 6 crop rotation plan for an entire planter or break them down by zones. For instance, an 8’x3’ planter could contain two 4’x3’ zones. Therefore, 3 planters containing two zones each would total 6 zones. Because varieties mature at different rates, simply rotate each zone independently as the current crop matures.
Discussion (10 minutes)
What will we plant next in each zone? When should we start those seeds? What are some of the benefits we can expect from rotating our crops?
Assessment (5 minutes)
Use the following questions to assess the Students before and after the lesson. Tally the responses of the group in the Assessment Tracking Log for comparison:
- By a show of hands, how many of you think we can plant the same thing over and over in the raised planters?
- Now that you understand the value of crop rotation. how many of you think you could create a rotation plan for your garden at home?
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