It is essential to understand how prior crops affect the present and what actions can be taken to ensure a successful garden.
When a gardener or a large-scale grower understands this, they can prepare accordingly and prevent or mitigate the problems before they occur. Planting a crop early in the recommended planting window, often when it is cooler, may allow a crop to emerge with less weed and pest competition. The most common problems that can carry over from prior gardens are weed seeds, plant pathogens and pest insects. All of these potential problems can reside in the soil or on the residue of plants from the prior garden.
The most obvious long-term solution is to consistently manage weeds throughout the year with regular weeding or denying space for weeds to occur in the first place. Using cover crops, weed barriers, or soil solarization when a garden bed is not in use can help to prevent emerging weeds. A cover crop or weed barrier essentially works by preventing sunlight from reaching the emerging seedling or physically prevent it from emerging. Soil solarization works by using a clear plastic sheet to heat the soil up using direct sunlight that can kill weed seeds and some soil-borne pests. Also, removing prior crop residue can help to reduce the presence of both plant pathogens and some insect pests.
A garden does not always need to take the entire season before harvest time, nor does it have to be one that requires a lot of effort.
Fast-growing crops provide many advantages that slow-growing crops lack. They take a lot less time to grow, which means a lot less total effort is needed to tend to the garden. A quick development time may reduce disease presence and pest pressure as well. Also, if the crop fails for whatever reason, quick-growing crops may be replanted. Quick-growing crops also can be planted in phases, allowing for a steady supply of crops to be ready for harvest.
Plant growth can be accelerated when all of the plant’s needs are consistently provided for. The most essential plant needs are consistent access to water, sunlight, nutrients, and appropriate temperature. Mix in compost before or at the time of planting. Fertilizers can be applied at the time of planting as well as smaller applications several times as the plant grows. Once the seeds are planted, it is critically important the soil remains consistently moist, though well-drained. Soil that is either too dry or stays wet can lead to the loss of the entire crop. Light and frequent irrigation is typically the best option and can be assisted by using automatic irrigation timers.
After a successful crop is harvested in the present, look to the continued success into the future.