@The Prepper Project: Defeat Garden Pests With This Easy Trick
I pulled out the remains of summer’s snake beans from one of my garden beds and was amazed by the sight that met my eyes.
The roots were a horrid, knotty mass of distorted lumps.
In the spring the beans had done excellently so I planted a second round in the same area. It grew rapidly but seemed to have a much harder time producing a crop than the earlier set of plants.
In short, they were a fail.
Sometimes you can get away with planting an area multiple times in a row with the same crop. I have a neighbor who plants a plot of crowder peas every summer… and from what I can spy over the fence, it seems like they’re in the same place. He seems to do fine; however, the plot probably reverts to weeds and grass through the rest of the year.
That rest can make all the difference.
Many of the problems in modern farming, from the need for extra pesticides to the use of genetically modified plants, relate to a lack of rotation. When the same ground is used to grow the same crops over and over again… pest problems start to build.
Granted, many farmers rotate between soybeans and corn or other pairings… but they don’t have the luxury of putting space aside for long term rotation plans like a home gardener can do with his plots.
In the case of my knotted bean roots, I won’t be planting anything susceptible to nematodes in that same space for a while – and I definitely won’t be planting anything in the bean and pea family.
Instead, after pulling the beans, my wife and I cleaned up the bed. Then she sowed a good handful of mustard seeds across the surface of the nematode-ridden earth.
Mustard, like many of its brassica cousins, can actually repel nematodes. They hate eating mustard.
If you really want to improve a bed and kick out garden pests before they become a big issue, give your gardens even more time than a year or so between similar crops. In a small space, this may not always be possible, but in a system like mine where I have a lot of beds it’s pretty easy to pull off.
If you can rotate not just types, but entire plant families, you’ll do well.
Hardcore Crop Rotation: A Five-Year PlanIf you really wanted to go nuts with your plant rotation, you could switch plant families for five years without many issues. Call it a five-year mission to boldly plant what no man has planted before…
You know, when I was a kid I used to bike over to my Grandma’s house with my brother in the summer and watch Star Trek on her Beta VCR.
We’d eat her amazing homemade macaroni and cheese (she used Vermont aged cheddar) along with frozen slices of mango from her tree out back. She had also air conditioning and we didn’t. It was awesome.
Man… those were the days. No responsibilities, cool grandparents, fast bikes, Kirk and Spock and green ladies, a good brother to hang with…
Where the heck was I?
Being a grownup and writing a gardening article… yeah… that’s right.
Okay. Crop rotation.
Try this five-year plan on for size:
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