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Monday, July 6, 2009

Growing plants: Rotating crops in a garden - helps in providing nitrogen

Crop rotation means growing a particular family of plants for one growing season, using a different family of plants for the next season, and so on. Why does this need to be done ? For a lot of growers, this is not something they are aware of; so read on.
A quick reason as to why you should do drop rotation (for details, you will need to read the next post). Monoculture (growing the same crop in the same spot for many seasons) used to cause problems such as failure of plants, either due to disease, or due to poor growth. Why does this happen ? Typically, plants from the same species like the same sort of nutrients from the soil, and continue to use up these nutrients as the seasons go by (and it is an expert grower who can supply the exact same nutrients on a regular basis). The problem is that specific nutrients are lost the one that the crop likes. How do you rectify this ? You make a good attempt to do this through the practice of crop rotation (Crop rotation is when you switch the type of plant grown on a piece of land over seasons). This problem of nutrients is especially problematic when it comes to nitrogen use. And there are plants that cause the problem, and there are plants that solve the problem (by adding nitrogen to the soil). If you rotate between plants that need nitrogen and plants that add nitrogen, your land will always be healthy. Another health (healthy for your plants) benefit for rotating plants is to reduce the chance of disease getting worse. If the same crops are grown, then the disease gets more stronger, more concentrated, and some of the disease will become resistant to the disease killers you may be employing. By changing the plants, the disease will not get a chance to become more concentrated, since a different plant most likely will not get affected by the same disease.
Why worry about nitrogen ?
Nitrogen is one of the major nutrients required for the healthy growth of plants. Lack of nitrogen will lead the plant to not grow properly, including stunted growth, poor fruits, and so on. Plants which are most susceptible to nitrogen shortages include leafy vegetables such as broccoli and spinach. The leaves will be pale, smaller than normal and possible blotched with reddish or purple tints. Typically, however, All vegetable gardens are prone to nitrogen shortages because of the demands of food plants.

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