Monday, April 1, 2013

A Plan for Crop Rotation and Cover Crops

Crop rotation, no-till gardening, and cover crops in vegetable gardens have been some of the many subjects studied at the Permaculture classes held at the Leon County Extension Office.  We have developed a gardening guide for our area utilizing information gleaned from the classes as well as planting guides and other information issued by IFAS at the University of Florida.  Follow the links (in green) in the guide to learn more. 

4 comments:

  1. this is excellent Thanks so much!

    one question: CORN is a builder - what doe it mean?

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    1. Thanks, Regine--This is just the type of examination we need to perfect our crop rotation plan. The claim of corn as a builder was taken from a chart promoting companion planting, and corn was listed as a companion plant based on this claim. Further research reveals only that the claim may have a two-fold basis: First, when composted (either on site or in a bin) it provides a large amount of organic matter and when composted green, mostly nitrogen. Second, corn requires a full range of nutrients to grow including ample micro-nutrients, and what it mines from the soil, it returns as compost. However, the claim that corn is a "builder" is probably misleading and will be removed from the plan.

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  2. if I read well then for bed one, after Winter Year 1 (Brassica) I go to summer 2nd column hence go to fruiting plants then Potatoes and Sweet peas for winter, followed by summer sweet potatoes and Okra followed by root the next winter (lots of root crops one after the other)..

    Or do I consider that the summer following winter is in the same column?

    Is it ok to leave the cover crop out if no room (if the sweet potatoes take over the whole patch?

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    1. You read the plan correctly, and you are correct - a lot of root crops one after the other. Thanks for pointing that out. We will re-examine the planting sequence and alter the plan accordingly. Cover crops are optional and if you decide not to plant one, you can add the nutrients it would have supplied as you feel appropriate. If a cover crop would add nitrogen, and you don't plant it, just add organic materials high in available nitrogen to your next crop. Some of the advantages in cover crops in additon to the organic matter they supply, is that the roots provide food for the micro-organisms in your garden at a time when the soil might be otherwise bare of plants between seasons, they help retain moisture in the soil, they discourage the growth of weeds, and they provide nutrients for the next crop as they compost in place. In your example of sweet potatoes (which take over the garden), they provide much of the same advantages if the vines are in turn returned to the soil.

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