Grow Your Own, Nevada! Fall 2012: Companion and Cover Cropping


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  • One component of developing a systematic approach for deployment of trap crops is to understandhow the trap crop modifies pest behavior. Glossy-leafed collards,BrassicaoleraceaL. var.acephala(Brassicaceae), were evaluated as a potential trap crop for diamondback moth,Plutellaxylostella(L.)(Lepidoptera: Plutellidae), because they are attractive toP. xylostellaadults and are a poor host forP. xylostellalarvae compared to cabbage,BrassicaoleraceaL. var.capitata. We used large field plots tomeasure the changes in adult, egg, and larvalP. xylostelladensities in cabbage when the trap crop wasplanted in the field. Furthermore, we planted the trap crop in dispersed and concentrated spatialarrangements to determine the impact of trap crop arrangement on the behavior ofP. xylostella.In 2002, results showed that the presence of collards within a cabbage field reduced larval density oncabbage. In 2003, neither trap crop arrangement had a significant impact onP. xylostellalarval densityon cabbage. Adult moths aggregated in proximity to collards in 2002, but not in 2003. Egg and larvaldata in both years in all treatments showed that total oviposition was highest near a central releasepoint, indicating that females lay many eggs before dispersing very far when suitable host plants areavailable. The mean direction ofP. xylostellamovement and oviposition from a central release pointwas not consistent or correlated to wind direction. Plant size of the trap crop in relation to the maincrop and environmental factors may have been responsible for the inconsistent effectiveness of thetrap crop.
  • Heavy feeders include cabbage, cauliflower, all leaf vegetables such as lettuce, spinach and celery.  Also included are leeks, cucumbers, squash, sweet corn and tomatoes.
  • The characteristics of the picture change with different growth and harvest conditions, as well as with the ageing of the plant extracts. This indicates a direct connection between the formative capacity of the plant extracts and the life processes of the plant. A similar connection can be supposed for the production and processing of food and drugs. Okay, getting back to reality…
  • This is where succotash came from!
  • Used east of the Mississippi.Enabled the early settlers of Jamestown to survive in the New World. Squantos taught them to plant mounds of corn and fertilize each mound with an alewife (fish).
  • In the northern plains, the Hidatsa, Mandan and Arikara peoples gardened along the floodplain of the Missouri River in what is now North Dakota.
  • Cover crops (also sometimes called green manures) are plants grown, not for harvest, butfor the express purpose of incorporating them back into the soil to increase organic matter levels.Cover crops can, in addition to improving soil physical conditions, aid in the control of erosionand weeds, and prevent compaction. They also provide a habitat for beneficial insects, improvesoil fertility, stimulate soil biological activity, and absorb and help recycle plant nutrients,especially nitrogen, between growing seasons.
  • Hairy vetch is widely used by organic growers in the United States as a winter cover crop, as it is both winter hardy and can fix as much as 200 lb/acre of atmospheric nitrogen. Disadvantages of hairy vetch in production agriculture are related to the crop having a portion of hard seed and its tendency to shatter seed early in the season - leading to it remaining in the field as a weed later in the season. This can be a particular problem in wheat production.Companion plantOrganic gardeners often plant hairy vetch (a nitrogen-fixing legume) as a companion plant to tomatoes, as an alternative to rotating crops in small growing areas. When it is time to plant tomatoes in the spring, the hairy vetch is cut to the ground and the tomato seedlings are planted in holes dug through the matted residue and stubble. The vetch vegetation provides both nitrogen and an instant mulch that preserves moisture and keeps weeds from sprouting.
  • Grow Your Own, Nevada! Fall 2012: Companion and Cover Cropping

    1. 1. Heidi Kratsch, Area Horticulture Specialist
    2. 2.  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!
    3. 3.  Structural support for vining plants Increase nitrogen balance in the soil Pest suppression (insects) Pollinator / predator recruitment Protective shelter Trap cropping Pest pattern disruptions
    4. 4. 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.
    5. 5.  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
    6. 6.  French and African marigolds release thiophene. Thiophene repels nematodes, grubs and aphids.
    7. 7.  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.
    8. 8.  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.
    9. 9. Sweet alyssum Companion plants provide food and cover for beneficial insects. ◦ Ladybird beetles ◦ Lacewings ◦ Hoverflies ◦ Praying mantis Fennel
    10. 10.  Planting multiple crops and varieties insures that you have something to harvest at the end of the season.
    11. 11. Extract from valerian root leaves Shady location Sunny location
    12. 12.  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.
    13. 13.  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
    14. 14.  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.
    15. 15. N
    16. 16. N
    17. 17. N
    18. 18.  Growing two or more vegetables in the same place at the same time
    19. 19.  Radishes are harvested before they crowd the carrots.
    20. 20.  Plant small plants close to large plants. Can use this strategy to lengthen the season for cool- season plants. Interplanting broccoli and lettuce
    21. 21.  Plant shade tolerant species in the shadow of taller crops. Interplanting cabbage, lettuce, celery and mustards
    22. 22.  Interplant heavy feeders with less demanding crops. Peas growing vertically behind 3 cauliflower plants. Growing in-front of cauliflowers are leeks, carrots and lettuces.
    23. 23.  Combine plants with similar water requirements. Cucumbers, zucchinis and squash have similar water requirements.
    24. 24.  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?
    25. 25.  Legumes  Fix nitrogen and add organic matter  Peas, clovers Cereal grains ◦ Fast-growing: add organic matter and control erosion ◦ Deeply tap-rooted plants: relieve compaction ◦ Cereal rye, winter wheat, barley “Bio-drilling” relieves compacted soil
    26. 26.  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
    27. 27.  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!
    28. 28.  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
    29. 29. 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
    30. 30.  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
    31. 31.  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
    32. 32.  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)
    33. 33.  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.
    34. 34.  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.
    35. 35. Incorporate themback into your soil
    36. 36.  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.
    37. 37. Chickens can remove a cover crop in 2 weeks. BUT don’t letchickens graze in hairy vetch that has done to seed.
    38. 38.  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
    39. 39. 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
    40. 40.  Territorial Seed Company Johnny’s Selected Seeds Burpee Seeds crops/ Peaceful Valley Farm Supply
    41. 41.