When you read
“rules” about gardening or articles that tell you what to do when, do
you want to know “why”? Two orders or recommendations we read about
quite often are:
1. CLEAN UP THE YARD, and
2. ROTATE YOUR CROPS.
Both are for
essentially the same reason. Diseases
and bugs overwinter in the plants they have been living on all summer. The
debris provides them with some protection.
Healthy plants can go in the compost pile if you can be sure it
gets hot enough (140-160 degrees F. minimum) but you are gambling with
“sick” ones. Plants are affected by the same critters that we are but
of different species of virus or bacteria. We can not see virus without a
special microscope and in most cases we do not have a cure so our only
defense is to get completely rid of sick plants and the insects that carry
them around. Fungi are larger by far and are multi-celled and produce
spores that blow around or are carried by an insect.
Luckily we do have fungicides to help us keep control.
Bacteria are single celled and grow by feeding on our plants.
We do have some antibiotics but it is much cheaper to destroy the
infected plants and put a different crop in that area for a year or two
Some plants are
heavy eaters and will remove different amounts of “food from the soil.
By putting in a different plant (plant rotation) and adding compost to the
soil we can keep it healthy for the next time around. By cleaning up the
old plant debris, the insects, the bacteria, the fungous spores, and the
virus are removed from the scene.
CLEAN UP YOUR
Did anyone ever
tell you not to put your
sunflower feeder in the lawn
The seed hulls from
the sunflower seeds contain a substance that prevents other seeds from
germinating. So put your feed in a landscape area with no plants
underneath. Sunflower hearts can be on the lawn without the
“pre-emergence” effect. A number of plants protect their
“territory” this way. Another example might be the black walnut tree.
Another is the Peony. Some plants won’t grow if you put them in the
space where peonies were before.
Hybrids of any kind
may not produce plants like their parents if you save the seeds. Each
hybrid plant was produced by planting a seed that was produced by a
specific cross. To get that seed, several rows of pollen parents are
planted by several rows of kernel parents to make that specific cross. The
seed parent must not use its own pollen or the gene combination will be
“wrong”. On some plants like squash the male blossoms may be clipped
off and the female blooms hand pollinated from another variety. Unless you
want to do this hand pollination, you had better buy new hybrid seed every
year and not try to save the seed. If you have plenty of space it is fun
to mix your plants in the garden. The fruit will be fine but look out for
surprises when you save the seed!!!
It is also called
green manure. It is done to
bring our soil back to life. Many of the nutrients are removed by the
plants and then the plants are discarded in the fall leaving depleted
soil. By starting a crop and then plowing it under, the texture of the
soil is improved and the nutrients are soon ready for your next crop.
Winter is the
most commonly used time as the cover crop will have time to start the
breaking down process. After
your spring or summer crop is harvested there are many plants that can be
seeded as a cover crop.
Why legumes such
Most plants use up
nitrogen when growing, while legumes put nitrogen back into the soil.
Before all the nitrogen based lawn fertilizer, we used to plant clover in
our lawn to put nitrogen into the soil to replace that used up by the
You can even
raise you own bird house. Go to the