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Polyculture vs. Disease Buildup  RSS feed

 
          
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Everything I read says not to repeat nightshades or brassicas in the same place due to disease/insect buildup.

I assume that with polyculture nightshades and brassicas would be in the same place every year (along with other things).

Is there a problem with clubfoot or any of the other disease?

Thanks.
 
John Polk
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With a true polyculture, you should have a large enough variety of insects, and soil borne critters to keep a balance in your plot.  No one single pathogen/insect should be in such a number as to threaten your crop.  Individual plants/leaves/fruits may be damaged, but not to the extent that you end up with "no tomatoes", or whatever.  Insects and diseases generally attack the weakest specimen in the plot.  It is nature's way of culling.

Some people will say not to save seed from such weak plants.  You might want to keep seeds from survivors (keep them separate from the rest), and try them (in isolation) next season, as you may have found an immune, or resistant sport.
 
          
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Any more thoughts on this?  Or is that pretty much it?
 
                                              
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John Polk wrote:
Some people will say not to save seed from such weak plants.  You might want to keep seeds from survivors (keep them separate from the rest), and try them (in isolation) next season, as you may have found an immune, or resistant sport.



You are totally right. there are many examples of this, and especially if a particular thing is a re occuring disease issue, this might be just the ticket... not always... but often enough that if your willing, it can be worth the effort.

Im not convinced crop rotation within a back yard makes a massive difference. One things Id say is dont compost diseased plants. pull them and dispose of them.

i think poly cultures, and the related beneficials work much better then most give them credit for. the beneficials can take awhile to show up, sometimes though.... you can buy and introduce many of them.

are insects a major issue for you? about all Ive had to deal with so far is grasshoppers.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I only have trouble from insects when the plants are stressed, generally by not enough water, or poor soil.  No disease problems so far.....

 
John Polk
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Crop rotation in a typical back yard environment has a very minor effect.  If your brassicas are only a few yards from where they were last year, the insects who laid their eggs in the soil under them last autumn will have little problem finding them this summer.  As you walk through your garden, you will be transporting pathogens from area to area on your shoes and cuffs.  Are you willing to disinfect your hose, shovel, trowel and hoe between legume and tomato chores?

A poly culture creates a more balanced environment in which no one species is likely to dominate.

Each plant family has its own environment where it performs best.  In a small backyard there are only so many sunny spots, so many spots where trellising is practical.  With 5 acres of open field, rotation is simple.  In a 50' x 75 ' backyard with house, trees, fences, not so.
 
Paul Cereghino
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I think I'm with John on this one when it comes to the scale issue.  It comes down to the dynamics of specific diseases, climates, species, etc... Generalizing and adopting certain garden habits could also be useful as long as it doesn't provoke disfunctional behaviors.  The claim that polyculture resolves all disease issues is also a generalization.  In general disease ecology is poorly researched.  The proof is in the pudding.  I had a garden with clubroot once... its really a bummer when you live in a cabbage climate.
 
                                              
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Paul Cereghino wrote:
  The claim that polyculture resolves all disease issues is also a generalization.  In general disease ecology is poorly researched. 


very true... but couple more diverse plantings with nice healthy plants and it can go a long way on many diseases.... certainly not a cure all. breeding is another but takes time, and isnt a cure all either.

with insects it wont eliminate them but it can greatly help... depending on which insect you are talking... my hoppers dont care if its grass or corn, or beans... they are all over it. after a few years though, I had praying mantises, and a horny toad move in, and the issue is greatly reduced now.....
 
Mekka Pakanohida
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Location: Zone 9 - Coastal Oregon
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.375 wrote:
Any more thoughts on this?  Or is that pretty much it?


John is dead on, no need to add more imo. 
 
          
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Thanks everybody.

I do have a backyard garden - not a farm.

This will be my first year trying polycuture.  It is weirding me out trying to figure out how to randomly plant plants all mixed together.
 
Mekka Pakanohida
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Location: Zone 9 - Coastal Oregon
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.375 wrote:
Thanks everybody.

I do have a backyard garden - not a farm.

This will be my first year trying polycuture.  It is weirding me out trying to figure out how to randomly plant plants all mixed together.



My first polyculture was in a 15'x15' area filled with blackberry in a major crime infested inner city area.  I didn't use herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers for 8 years there, and had wonderful food.

Good luck!
 
                            
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Location: Southern California, Zone 10
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Wouldn't at least some nightshades show up in different places year to year based on where the seeds are dropped by the animals eating them?  (At least, I think that's why I have volunteer tomatoes in random places in the garden....)  Is there a benefit to moving nightshades around a backyard based on what they draw from the soil, as opposed to disease?
 
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