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Rhs level 2 certificate year 1 week 18 2012

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seed sowing techniques for vegetables, extending the season, catch and intercropping

seed sowing techniques for vegetables, extending the season, catch and intercropping


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  • 1. RHS Level 2 Certificate Week 18 – Outdoor food production. Vegetables – crop rotation, intercropping and successional cropping
  • 2. Learning objective
    • 1. Cultivation techniques (2)
    • 1.1 Describe the methods used to advance and extend the productive season of outdoor food crops; including the use of polythene, mulches, fleece, ‘enviromesh’, low tunnels, cloches and cold frames.
    • 1.2 Describe propagation methods used in the production of vegetable crops, including direct sowing and raising plants in seed beds, blocks and modules
    • 2. Crop rotation etc
    • 2.1 State the benefits and limitations of using crop rotation.
    • 2.2 Describe a four-bed system of crop rotation.
    • 2.3 Explain how successional cropping can be achieved for a NAMED crop by using sowing and planting dates, choice of cultivars and environmental protection.
    • 2.4 Explain how intercropping can be used to maximise production.
    • 2.5 Describe the effect of plant spacing on a named crop.
    • 2.6 Describe what is meant by ‘cut and come again’ vegetables
  • 3. Propagation methods for vegetables
    • Seed – sown outside or sown in pots under cover
    • Plants – young vegetable plants at planting out stage can be purchased from mail order suppliers who will deliver in the correct week for planting.
    • Roots, slips and sets – Asparagus ( Asparagus officinalis ) is supplied as a root, Sweet potatoes ( Ipomoea batatas ) as slips (shoots with part of the root tuber – a bit like propagating Dahlia) and onions ( Allium sativum ) as sets (juvenile bulbs).
  • 4. Seed Sowing - outdoors
    • Direct sowing – into the ground where they will mature. Used for root vegetables which resent disturbance (carrots, parsnips, onions and leeks from seed) and for salads. Can be used for legumes – but watch out for mice!
    • Seed bed – a separate seed bed used to germinate and bring the plants on. Then transplanted – used for Brassicas.
  • 5. Seed sowing under cover
    • Seed trays followed by pricking out.
    • Individual pots, modules or root trainers. Less work but needs more space.
    • Compost blocks – use of a blocking tool and compost mix to make compressed squares of compost. Advantages – no pots to wash, no transplant shock. Disadvantages – mixes use peat, equipment is quite expensive (but no pots to buy), not suitable for all vegetables.
  • 6. Crop rotation
    • Vegetables divided into five groups – permanent planting (perennials like Asparagus); Brassicas; Legumes; Alliums; root crops.
    • Salad crops and some others like Sweet Corn do not fall into a rotation group
    • The principle is not to grow the same group on the same soil two years running.
  • 7. Crop Rotation – benefits and limitations Inflexible – intercropping, catch cropping or mixed cropping do not fit well Planning the rotation also enables planning succession Personal taste is vital on a small scale – the grower might like brassicas but not carrots. One crop can benefit the next in the rotation – nitrogen fixing legumes; potatoes suppress weeds Most pests and diseases are mobile or have long persistence Minimises plant problems – pests, diseases and deficiencies Limitations Benefits
  • 8. Extending the season for food crops
    • Using protection – cloches, greenhouse, poly-tunnel - at the beginning and end of the season.
    • Using varieties that are suited to the stage of the growing season. For example Peas ( Pisum sativum ) can be picked from May to September if the right varieties are chosen.
    • Sow in succession – so that there are new plants ready to harvest as one batch finishes.
  • 9. Successional cropping
    • Sowing different varieties – early, mid-season and late
    • Sowing a few seeds at regular intervals so that the plants do not all reach maturity at the same time. For example, hearting lettuce (such as Cos) take 8 -14 weeks to reach maturity. Sowing half a row each week-10 days from late March until late July gives continuity of harvest May to October.
  • 10. Intercropping and other intensive cropping approaches
    • Intercropping – growing rows or plants of a quickly maturing vegetable between those of a slow growing one.
    • Catch cropping – growing a quickly maturing crop on soil left vacant by a harvested crop or set aside to be planted later.
    • Mixed cropping – growing several vegetables together that benefit each other and are harvested at the same time (e.g. ’the Three Sisters’: sweet corn, beans and squash).
  • 11. Crop spacings and ‘cut and come again’
    • Spacings are vital in vegetable growing – but the classic spacings given in most books aim to obtain the largest vegetables at picking.
    • Closer spacings – particularly for brassicas – can enable ‘baby’ vegetables to be grown which reach maturity more quickly and are more tender.
    • Cut and come again crops enable a harvest and then re-grow from the base to enable a further crop. For example Cos lettuces like ‘Crisp Mint’ and some cabbages.
  • 12. Learning outcomes
    • 1. Cultivation techniques (2)
    • 1.1 Describe the methods used to advance and extend the productive season of outdoor food crops.
    • 1.2 Identify a range of propagation methods used in the production of a range of outdoor food crops.
    • 2. Crop rotation etc
    • 2.1 State the benefits and limitations of using crop rotation.
    • 2.2 Describe how crop rotation can be used in the vegetable garden.
    • 2.3 Describe two methods by which successional cropping can be achieved in the production of a range of vegetable crops.
    • 2.4 Define the term: ‘intercropping’.
    • 2.5 Explain how intercropping can be used to maximise production.