erins327
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Does a garden need to 'rest'?

I have three raised beds, each approx 100 sq ft.

I sometimes hear that gardens need to 'rest' in between seasons. But I like to seed stuff starting here in about a week, have them grow to transplant maturity, hopefully right when my summer veggies are no longer producing with the incoming cooler temps. And then just switch them out. I will of course till, and add more soil and compost to the beds as well before putting in new plants.

If a garden does need to rest, why does it need that?

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rainbowgardener
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It doesn't need to rest, but if you are gardening the same plot year round, you will have to be more careful about replenishing all the nutrients you are taking from it. Keep adding lots of compost, mulch, etc!
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applestar
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I try to implement crop rotation among my various garden beds. The beds remain more-or-less productive for different purposes during growing months, but are planted with different crops in recommended sequences for optimum nutrient rotation for the crop as well as disease and pest avoidance to confuse or even diminish the pest life cycle -- especially important if you are also trying to implement no-till techniques.

Here's a good reference:
:arrow: https://www.sare.org/publications/croprotation/croprotation.pdf

erins327
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Wow Applestar!!

That is quite the reference! Thanks ya'll for you answers, makes more sense to me!

Erin

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GreenPaul
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Applestar thanks for this awesome reading for the upcoming long winter nights!
Per Aspera Ad Astra

Dragonborn
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It probably isnt a bad idea to let the ground rest for a few months. It will let the organic matter in the dirt rebuild again. I try not to till my garden but once a year, if at all. Not saying its bad to till, but overtilling will do no good.
"Despite the gardener's best intentions, Nature will improvise."

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rainbowgardener
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Absolutely the nutrients need to be replenished. But letting a garden "rest," i.e. sit there empty, adds nothing by itself, just refrains from taking away more. The only point of letting a garden plot sit empty would be if say you added fresh manure to it, which needs to break down over the winter before you plant anything there.

Otherwise you can just keep continuously replenishing and growing.
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StevenFarms
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Honestly I always have something in the soil. For instance after growing tomatoes and then carrots in the same spot back to back, I add worm compost and decaying grass clippings than translanted hairy vetch and spring triticale I had started from seed. The vetch takes nitrogen from the air and puts it into the soil. It also doesn't let much weeds grow. The triticale complements it and loosens topsoil

Artemesia
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soil rebalance

Most organic nutrients are in a form that cannot be directly absorbed by plants.
Protozoa, bacteria, fungi, worms, ..... require time to release nutrients via mineralization.
In other words they eat the soil/organic matter and their enzymes and acids chemically breakdown and free up the nutrients.
That is why it so important to rotate crops that are heavy feeders of different nutrients.
It takes time for these organisms to rebalance the nutrient profile.
Always keep roots in the soil, even during winter, to feed the mycorrhizal fungus.
(Fava, vetch, oats, barley, etc. )
Keep working in organic matter to feed the bacteria, protozoa, worms, etc.
Never let the garden completely dry out.
These critters need a drink regularly.
Last edited by Artemesia on Sat Dec 15, 2012 5:21 am, edited 3 times in total.

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LA47
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WOW! Applestar this site is great. I've always tried to rotate crops. The only reason I heard was because some plants use more of certain nutrients than others but that was all I knew so I rotated willy-nilly with no rhyme or reason. Now I can at least do it with more knowledge. Thanks a lot. :D
High Altitude Gardener zone 4B or 5A

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Jardin du Fort
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I agree that with knowledgeable crop rotation it is likely that allowing a garden to "rest" is mostly unnecessary. I will say that there is a Biblical practice that makes sense though. It is called allowing the land to go "fallow". Biblically, every seven years, the land is allowed to have its own way. What happens is that "weeds" are allowed to grow as they will. More often than not, the weeds that appear on fallow ground are the very ones that will benefit the soil nutrition. They may have deep roots that bring up mineral nutrients from deep soil. Or they may have other benefits to the soil (more than I want to get into in this comment).

Admittedly, in those times, crop rotation was unheard of, so soil depletion was common. We now know why the soil becomes depleted, and what to do about it. If you maintain beneficial crop rotation, feed the soil with compost, manures, and minerals as needed, you won't need to let the soil "rest".

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ElizabethB
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Commercial farmers will let fields "rest" with cover crops. In my square foot garden I rotate my crops especially my nightshades -tomatoes, peppers and eggplant to avoid soil born virus. I add compost to my boxes every time I plant and I have a soil test done every 2 years just in case. Now this fall I was in a fit of depression and did not get my fall crops planted. Doing much better and have cleaned out the garden and have convinced my dear husband to re-work my boxes for early spring planting. They are adjacent to each other seperated by 2 rows of 4" x4". I want to build new boxes with a 2' gravel border on all sides. Easier for me to work. I try to plan a crop rotation for my boxes. One year my nightshades will be in a box on one end and the next they will be in a box on the other. Since the boxes are adjacent to each other it is difficult to keep soil born virus from migrating from one box to the other. One of the reasons I want a gravel maintence strip around each box.
Elizabeth - or Your Majesty

Living and growing in Lafayette, La.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

Artemesia
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fallow

Jardin

You bring up an important point about weeds and allowing a field to go fallow.
Even though we know much about the interactions of plants, microbes, and nutrients, we do not know all of the interactions in nature and probably never will.
That is why it is important not to try to control weeds too perfectly.
Control them during the "critical period of interferance"
and then let them contribute whatever they may.
I watch what my weeds are telling me.
They can indicate PH, minerals, NPK, etc.

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