Garden Crop Rotation – Vegetable Crop Families

Vegetable Crop Families

Over the next week or so I will be posting 3 articles on the importance of crop rotation.  In this first of the three I want to talk about Vegetable Crop Families.

Garden crops can be broken into Vegetable Crop Families.  A “family” in this case refers to a group of plants that share common traits and botanical lineage.  Basically the plants are “related”.  Plants in the same vegetable crop families have similar characteristics, use many of the same nutrients, and are susceptible to many of the same diseases and pests.

The purpose of this post is to give you a list of all the major important vegetable crop families and their members.  I will also try to include a little about each of the vegetable crop families and some common problems, etc. associated with each family.  You can use this post as a guide as you begin your crop rotation plan.

Family Name:  Fabaceae (Also Leguminosae)

Common Name:  Legumes

Members:

  • Peas
  • Fava Beans
  • Runner Beans
  • Green Beans
  • Lima Beans
  • Soybeans
  • Peanuts

Vegetable Crop Families 1

The Fabaceae family are a pretty care free lot.  Given good soil and proper water they should be pretty easy for you to grow.  There are a few soil borne viral or bacterial diseases that will effect this family and a few common pests.  But unless you have really bad luck this family should be easy to grow.  All of the members of the Fabaceae family have the added benefit of enriching your soil with added nitrogen.  A bacteria that grows in the root system of these plants actually “fixes” nitrogen from the air, supplying your peas or beans with all the nitrogen they need and adding nitrogen to your soil as well.

Family Name:  Solanaceae

Common Name:  Nightshade

Members:

  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Peppers
  • Eggplants

Vegetable Crop Families 2

The Solanaceae family is one of the most popular and important families in home gardening.  Nearly all of the plants in this family originated in the tropical climates of central and south America.  That means they like moist fertile soil.  They also have many pests and diseases in common.  This makes crop rotation extra important for this family.  In fact, if for no other reason, the Solanaceae families need for rotation means you have to get a crop rotation system going in your garden!

Family Name:  Brassicaceae

Common Name:  Cole or Brassica

Members:

  • Cabbages
  • Chinese Cabbages
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Kale
  • Turnips
  • Kohlrabi
  • Rutabagas
  • Radishes
  • Cresses

Vegetable Crop Families 3

The Brassicaceae family is one of the families where the “family resemblance” is really apparent.  Look closely at each member of this family and you will see what I mean.  In fact if you really want to see how similar they are, take a look at them as 10 day old seedlings.  Before the true leave start to form these guys all look the same.  This family has many diseases in common, but even more pests!  Rotation of these crops around your garden is essential!

Family Name:  Apiaceae (Also sometimes called Umbelliferae)

Common Name: None

Members:

  • Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • Celery
  • Celeriac
  • Fennel
  • Also some herbs like parsley & caraway

Vegetable Crop Families 4

The Apiacea family for me at least is fairly easy to deal with in the rotation.  I mostly only grow Carrots & Celery from this family and neither really takes up a ton of space.  So it is fairly easy to bounce these around in different areas of the garden.

Family Name:  Chenopodiaceae (Also Amaranthaceae)

Common Name:  Amaranth

Members:

  • Beets
  • Swiss Chard
  • Spinach (Including New Zealand Spinach)

Vegetable Crop Families 5

This family is not a really big group, but is also one where you can really see the family resemblance.  The leaves of this family, especially when young look very much alike.  These plants have some pests in common, but are not heavily effected my and plant diseases.  Rotation of this family should be very simple as they can all be grown close together in the same bed!

Family Name: Amarylidaceae

Common Name:  Allium

Members:

  • Onions
  • Asparagus
  • Leeks
  • Garlic (Technically garlic isn’t part of this family, but you treat is as if it is)

Vegetable Crop Families 6

It’s funny to think that Onions and Aspargus are cousins.  That’s a pairing that doesn’t match up in my mind.  Although Garlic is technically an herb, I put it in this family as I treat it and rotate it around my garden with my onions.

Family Name:  Asteraceae (Also Compositae)

Common Name:  None

Members:

  • Chicory
  • Lettuce
  • Endives
  • Salsify
  • Sunflower
  • Dandelion
  • Artichokes (Globe & Jerusalem)
  • Cardoons
  • Mache (also know as corn salad or Lamb’s Lettuce)

Vegetable Crop Families 7

There is some pretty big variation in this family.  Hard to picture an lettuce plant and an Artichoke being related, but they are!!  This family is fairly easy to work into any rotation and really don’t have a lot of problems growing in good fertile soil.

Family Name:  Cucurbitaceae

Common Name: Gourd or Squash

Members:

  • Pumpkins
  • Cucumbers
  • Squash (Winter)
  • Squash (Summer)
  • Melons

Vegetable Crop Families 8

One of my favorite families to grow!  This family has a lot of common pests and diseases and rotation is a must!

Family Name:  Miscellaneous others

Members:

  • Sweet or Pop Corn – Poaceae
  • Okra – Malvaceae
  • Rhubarb –

Vegetable Crop Families 9

These 3 garden goodies are all the only members of their respective families that we regularly cultivate in our gardens.  That does not mean you don’t have to rotate.  Rhubarb, being a perennial stays put for a lot of years, but the other two should be rotated around your garden as part of your normal rotation process.

Well I hope this post helps!  This should give you some ideas of what is related to what and help you to start building a crop rotation plan using Vegetable Crop Families.

For more info on crop rotation you can check out the following posts: (links will go live when the post is finished)

Why should I rotate my Garden Crops

My 4 year Crop Rotation plan

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