Crop Rotation: What You Should Plant After Beans
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Crop Rotation: What To Plant After Beans?

After you’ve read our Hoss University Bean Growing Guide and have your big harvest of pole beans, bush beans, or half runner beans, it’s time to start thinking about what’s next for that garden space. Here in South Georgia (Zone 8B), midsummer gets so hot that there really aren’t a lot of vegetables that we can grow that will survive the blistering heat and humidity. So by the time our beans get harvested, we use this opportunity to start planning for our fall garden. This is where crop rotation comes into play.

What Is Crop Rotation And Why Do We Do It?

Crop rotation is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It’s the practice of planting and growing different crops in the same garden area in a rotation from year to year.  Some vegetables require more time than others to be away from the soil they first came into contact with. We plant watermelons, for example, on a 5-year rotation but beans are on a steady 3-year rotation in our garden.

The 2 main reasons to practice good crop rotation are pest and disease control and soil health. Because different plants need different nutrients, planting the same crop family in one spot over and over again will ultimately deplete those nutrients and degrade the soil.All plants are vulnerable to specific pests and diseases and those pests usually attack a specific family of vegetables and can stay in the soil waiting for next season’s feast but rotating your crops keeps them at bay. 

Don't Break The Cycle!

When researching crop rotation, you will undoubtedly find lots of diagrams on the internet that say you have to plant in a circular rotation that goes from roots to legumes to leaf to fruits and back around to roots. While this may be a good plan for some, it is by no means the only accurate way to rotate your crops.

A better method is to look more closely into the family that the plant belongs to and the nutrients it requires. For example, you never want to plant tomatoes in the same plot that you have previously planted potatoes. Though they are completely different vegetables, they belong to the Nightshade family and need the same nutrients from the soil, resulting in poor soil health. Instead, you could plant cabbage to give the soil a break from those heavy feeders. Similarly, you don’t want to follow beans with another legume. 

The biggest thing to remember is that your soil has to stay active in the soil cycle to stay viable for plant production. As long as you are rotating crops that won’t be harmed from the previous crop and be vulnerable to the same pest pressure, there is a TON of flexibility in what can be planted based on your zone. If you have a window of time that you need to fill between beans and your next planting, cover crops or flowers that have short maturity dates will keep your soil healthy so you don’t lose all that amazing nitrogen that your beans have provided.

Our Top Crops To Plant After Beans

Depending on your zone, you may be able to have a flourishing vegetable garden from Spring all the way into winter and can continue planting crop after crop until the end of your season. But as we mentioned earlier, here in South Georgia, the height of summertime isn’t ideal for us to try and keep our vegetable garden growing with a few minor exceptions like sweet potatoes and okra. So for us, this is an ideal time to plant a cover crop like Sunn Hemp or Black Oil Sunflowers and keep our soil healthy for our fall garden when temperatures get milder. Then when we’re ready for our next planting, we work those cover crops back into the soil, not losing any of the nutrients that they may have siphoned.

It really just comes down to a matter of planning, preference, and research. Find out what families and crops thrive in your area and go from there.

Don't Forget To Keep A Record

Considering some crops need to be on a rotation of sometimes up to 6 years, it can be very easy to forget what has been planted where. Using a garden journal to keep track of what you have planted is going to be a vital part of crop rotation. You can go into as much or as little detail as you want. There’s no right or wrong way to keep records. We like to roughly sketch out our garden and label the family, variety, date of planting, and date of harvest. Trust us when we say that having this quick reference will keep you from wasting time, and money, and experiencing a whole lot of frustration in potentially losing a whole crop when there was an easy, free solution.

What Beans Are You Growing?

Check out our huge selection of pole beans, bush beans, and other legumes!

How to Build Your Garden Soil with Cover Crops