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Last year my wife and I planted our first ever organic vegetable garden (raised bed made of cedar) and pretty much just "winged it"; and surprisingly had very good yields. By "winged it" I mean, we didn't really do any homework on gardening, just spent a weekend watching videos and reading blogs/articles.

This year, we're getting more serious, and so I'm actually reading up on vegetable gardening. And in preparing our second year's garden, there are two pieces of seemingly contradicting advice I keep coming across over and over again:

  • Plant onions and scallions around the perimeter of your garden to ward off pests; but...
  • Never plant the same kind of vegetable in the same location (in other words, rotate your crops), so as to help prevent fungi/disease

This is contradictory because on one hand it leads me to believe that we should be planting certain vegetables around the perimeter of our garden every year, but on the other hand, this might make those vegetables susceptible to disease since we're not rotating their position every year.

So I ask: which is it?

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In my experience, planting onions etc around the perimeters isn't very effective. On the other hand, rotation is not only effective, but necessary for a good Integrated Pest Management (IPM) system. It is one of the most effective cultural means of pest/disease prevention, and it also helps the soil maintain a balance, as different plants use vastly different amounts of the various minerals/nutrients. Rotation maintains the balance, preventing the nutrient depletion common in the soil of multi-year monocultures.

I'd say this is a fairly easy question. Definitely go with the rotation rather than the perimeter planting.

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    As J.Musser writes, it doesn't make sense to plant onions around your perimeters, rotation is much more important. But it may be an option to plant some cultures together. An example may be the combination of onions and carrots in a bed: the carrots ward the onion fly and the onions ward the carrot fly – Christoph Mühlmann Feb 3 '15 at 8:41
  • Makes perfect sense, thanks to both J.Musser and @ChristophMühlmann (I'd upvote both of you if I had the rep to do so)! – DirtyMikeAndTheBoys Feb 3 '15 at 11:07
  • @DirtyMikeAndTheBoys actually... you do have the rep to upvote. Christoph, valid point about companion planting. Can be quite useful. – J. Musser Feb 3 '15 at 15:53
  • Forget about using plants to scare away insects! Definitely ROTATE. Be vigilant so if you DO encounter a problem with insects/disease you'll catch it in time to 'control' the problem. Rotating helps to prevent problems. But more importantly we have to relax about total control of problems or eradication. Control or balance is much healthier not only for our plants but helps keeps us sane and better gardeners. There are so many ways to prevent, balance problems in the garden. I've never found a plant that I would use as a repellent. Much better ways exist for control sans pesticides. – stormy Feb 3 '15 at 22:34
  • @stormy Do you mind? If you have an answer, can you post it as one rather than as a block of text under my answer (which ends up in my inbox)? Thanks! – J. Musser Feb 3 '15 at 22:44

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