Grow Your Own, Nevada! Fall 2012: Companion and Cover CroppingPresentation Transcript
Heidi Kratsch, Area Horticulture Specialist
Companion crops: ◦ Also called Intercropping ◦ Usually planted at the same time as production crops (interplanting vs. perimeter planting) ◦ Planted most often for pest suppression Cover crops: ◦ Usually planted in the “down” season (such as winter) – not harvested for consumption ◦ Used for soil enhancement (called “Green Manure”) But there is some overlap!
Structural support for vining plants Increase nitrogen balance in the soil Pest suppression (insects) Pollinator / predator recruitment Protective shelter Trap cropping Pest pattern disruptions
Plants such as sweet allysum have been used to lure the diamondback moth from cabbage plants.Diamondback moth feeding on cabbage Sweet alyssum used as a trap cropDestroy the trap crop after it becomes infested with insects.
Legumes: Interplanted with ◦ Alfalfa heavy feeders: ◦ Beans – all kinds ◦ Cabbage ◦ Clover ◦ Cauliflower ◦ Lentil ◦ Celery ◦ Peas ◦ Corn ◦ Cucumbers ◦ Leeks ◦ Lettuce ◦ Spinach ◦ Squash ◦ Tomatoes Interplanted rows of corn with clover
French and African marigolds release thiophene. Thiophene repels nematodes, grubs and aphids.
Mowed cereal rye as a mulch to suppress weeds. Use with vegetables that have large seeds or are transplants. Cut at flowering but before seed set.
Results in a diverse canopy Taller sun-loving plants shade lower shade-loving plants ◦ Such as lettuce, spinach, celery Interplanting corn with squash to confuse squash insect pests.
Sweet alyssum Companion plants provide food and cover for beneficial insects. ◦ Ladybird beetles ◦ Lacewings ◦ Hoverflies ◦ Praying mantis Fennel
Planting multiple crops and varieties insures that you have something to harvest at the end of the season.
Extract from valerian root leaves Shady location Sunny location
Wampanoag (Northeast and South) Hidatsa (Plains) Zuni waffle garden (Southwest)Corn, beans and squash have played a key role in the survival of all North American people.
Gifts from Great Spirit Collectively called De-o-ha-ko, or “those who support us”Term coined by the Iroquois in the NE U.S. and Canada
Corn provides structure for beans to climb Beans replenish the soil with nutrients Leaves of squash and pumpkin create a living mulch that conserves water and inhibits weeds. Evidence of Paradise, Quilt created by M. Joan Lintault to celebrate Iroquois farming methods.
Growing two or more vegetables in the same place at the same time
Radishes are harvested before they crowd the carrots.
Plant small plants close to large plants. Can use this strategy to lengthen the season for cool- season plants. Interplanting broccoli and lettuce
Plant shade tolerant species in the shadow of taller crops. Interplanting cabbage, lettuce, celery and mustards
Interplant heavy feeders with less demanding crops. Peas growing vertically behind 3 cauliflower plants. Growing in-front of cauliflowers are leeks, carrots and lettuces.
Combine plants with similar water requirements. Cucumbers, zucchinis and squash have similar water requirements.
Increase soil organic matter Increase nitrogen balance in the soil Suppress pests (weeds) Provide habitat for beneficial insects Enhance soil biological activity Control erosion Prevent compactionWhat do you want your cover crop to do?
In rotation: 2- or 3- year Winter cover crop Summer cover crop Strip cropping Intercropping Cowpea as a summer cover to increase soil nitrogen levels and suppress weeds
Drought tolerant Winter annual Excellent mineralized Zone 3 - 6 N provider Grows slowly in fall but resumes in spring Smothers spring weeds Enhances soil moisture retention Sprawling vines can be a challenge Great in an area where tomatoes or corn will be grown!
Early September Seeding rate of 1-2 lb./1000 ft2 Requires inoculation with Rhizobium bacteria Comes as dry powder mixed with finely ground peat moss
Winter annual Winter annual that Zone 6 may die in winter in colder parts of Nevada But, establishes quickly If winter-killed, no need to pull up… Can combine with winter rye Seed Austrian pea at 2-4 lb./1000 ft2
Greater control of winter annual weeds Hairy vetch with winter rye More organic matter residue Provides proper C:N ratio to speed decomposition in soil Use 40-60% grain full rate and 80% legume full rate
Hardiest of cover crops Winter annual Rapid establishment Zone 4 Deep fibrous rooting Builds organic matter Breaks up compaction Allelopathy suppresses weed seeds Often grown with a legume Seed at 2.5 lb/1000 ft2
Fall-seeded brassica Forms thick, white tap roots 8-14 inches long! Nicknamed “biodrill” or “tillage radish” Seed in late August, will winter-kill in much of Nevada Traps soil nutrients, breaks up compaction, biofumigant properties (against nematodes)
The best time to plant a cover crop is anytime a bed is not covered by food crop or mulch. Make a furrow for large seeds Scatter and rake in smaller seeds Tamp the bed to ensure good soil contact and water in. Nature abhors a vacuum. Bare ground invites weeds and represents a lost opportunity to improve the soil.
Choose crops appropriate for our area. Irrigate only enough to avoid plant stress. Use drip irrigation to avoid water waste. Irrigate less in winter. While buckwheat is a fast-growing summer annual cover crop, it requires more water than is efficient for our region.
Incorporate themback into your soil
Tilling – avoid deep mechanical tillage Mowing Remove plants and use as compost or mulch Pen chickens in the field (except hairy vetch – seed is poisonous to chickens) Incorporate cover crop 3 Turning in a cover crop by hand is a weeks before food crop tedious job. Top mowing or use of a is planted garden tiller can facilitate the process.
Chickens can remove a cover crop in 2 weeks. BUT don’t letchickens graze in hairy vetch that has done to seed.
Perennials – alfalfa, hairy indigo, red clover* Medium red clover* Summer annuals – garden pea, mustard, turnip, barley, oats, sorghum-sudangrass Winter annuals – Austrian winter pea, hairy vetch, winter * Can be weedy in a garden setting wheat, winter rye
Food Crop Cover CropEarly spring planting: Fall planted winter annualLettuces, cabbage, that is winter-killed:spinach, kale, peas, Austrian winter pearadishes, carrots, chardWarm season planting: Fall-planted cold-hardypeppers, tomatoes, legumes: hairy vetchsquash, corn, melonLate-season planting: Spring-planted summerBroccoli, beets, kale, annual: garden pea, clovercollard, lettuce, peas,radishes
Territorial Seed Company http://www.territorialseed.com/category/cover_crops Johnny’s Selected Seeds http://www.johnnyseeds.com/t-covercropchart.aspx Burpee Seeds http://www.burpee.com/organic-gardening/cover- crops/ Peaceful Valley Farm Supply http://www.groworganic.com/seeds/cover-crop.html