Caliente Mustard Seed is not just a green manure it also acts as a “biofumigant” for the soil. Biofumigants suppress various soil borne pests and diseases by releasing naturally occurring compounds when you incorporate them back into the soil.
The foliage must be crushed or finely chopped for it to release a natural gas (isothiocyanate) which effectively reduces and suppresses a range of harmful nematodes and diseases in the soil.
The combination of biofumigation plus the digging in of the green material (organic matter), increases beneficial soil microbes, which out-compete pathogen microbes helping to keep soil diseases down.
Caliente Mustard is a Brassica so if problems are present with Club-root, Caliente Mustard will succumb to the disease so use appropriately within a rotation
The benefits of use for the home gardener for most crop and soil types are:
-Improved root systems and a measurable increase in yield of following crops
-Suppression of a range of soil-borne diseases including Verticillium wilt, Rhizoctonia, Pythium, Fusarium, and Sclerotinia
-Suppresses a range of harmful nematode species
Improved soil structure and fertility
-Suppresses weeds; mainly soft-seeded annuals, soon after incorporation
Caliente Mustard can be sown in spring or late summer for a quick crop, or mid-autumn for over-wintering in milder areas.
The finer the chop the better the result, running over the area with a rotary mower or strimmer to chop well before digging the chopped up foliage and roots into the top 15-20cm (6inches) of the soil within 20 mins of chopping up, otherwise 80% of the beneficial gases will escape into the air.
Rake the soil to a fine tilth and firm or roller to keep gases locked in. Water the area thoroughly.
Rest the soil for 14 days before sowing/planting new seeds/crops, then sow/grow crops as soon as possible to get the best benefits from Caliente Mustard.
Although I’m in the colder area I’m going to experiment and mix this in with my “field bean” crop for over wintering and cover with fabric, hopefully some will survive in amongst the field beans and I’ll dig the lot in come Spring 2015. I’m hoping they’ll survive in little “micro climate” pockets with the added assistance of the horticultural fabric.
Next summer as part of my plan to deal with my perennial “weeds” (out of place invasive plants) is to plant a cover crop of potatoes on the allotment, my main aim really is for it to act as a weed suppressant throughout the year by crowding out (blocking light to) the weeds.
The variety I’ve chosen is ‘Sarpo Mira’ for it’s continual proven excellence with it’s Blight resistance. Considering that something as devastating as blight could completely destroy my efforts to keep the weeds down I recon doing one variety is my best option, I need to maintain good dense foliage for as long as possible.
Under normal conditions I’d say grow more than one variety of potato, as in don’t put all your eggs in one basket. One year one disease or pest may be prevalent and the next another, in my opinion to ensure and maintain a good healthy overall yield it’s best to have a diversity of them, each with their own merits. Also to help us eat seasonally I’d say plant one’s that you can harvest over a longer period. Obviously I’m ignoring all that kind of sound advice here in favor a dense foliage, even canopy and it being harvested over a shorter period to minimise the ground being left exposed to the elements and to benefit me in the future “digging in” of the Green Manure crop I’ll be following the potatoes with.
This allotment site I’ve been given has been left for so long it’s literally had a huge network of perennial weeds growing throughout and although I’ve done a relatively good job of digging a lot of them out in parts I’ve still got a huge way to go. The pulling and digging out will be a constant battle for a number of years but I’m not complaining, they are not all bad, often they are Dynamic Accumulators of nutrients too (more on that in the future).
My plans are in Feb to put in a mulch of Pine Needles (from friends/family Christmas trees) to try and acidify the soil a little bit. I’ll be doing a lot more digging out of weeds in the early spring, put in a ton of compost I’ll get at very low cost, it’s made locally from wood on the dairy farm (not organic unfortunately). I’m also going to put down half a ton of excellent quality ‘Virgin Top Soil’ (enriched with organic compost) that I’d got for almost nothing as part of a deal on some Biochar I purchased in bulk. I do have a problem with a bit of a Alkaline leaning soil and adding things like “Rock Dust” or “Biochar” makes that problem worse but these were products I had before getting the land. That all said I think I’m going to brave it and add them both in repetitively small amounts with the compost and topsoil and hope it evens it’s self out a bit. It’s a bit experimental (risky) in a sense but the added benefits of each of these products I think is worth chancing it on.
I will then plant the seed potatoes and along the way “earth up” (cover tubers) with the other half ton of that Topsoil. Come the end I will then basically harvest them from the point of view that I’m firstly weeding and secondly picking those tubers out, so kind of ‘killing two birds with one stone’.
I’ll then be lightly cultivating the soil, working it to a fine tilth, adding the worm casts I should have made in bulk by then PH and Nutrient testing the soil and adjusting were needed/possible. Finally planting a mixed Winter Green Manure crop to protect, rest and prepare the ground for next years harvests.
I’m be practicing “crop rotation” principles and not be planting potatoes in this ground again for another 4 years which is a bit disappointing in a sense but there are other parts of the garden for that as well as containers and even things like yams etc. I think crop rotations merits speaks for it’s self though so it’s a no brainer (makes sense).
I think that’s about it for now, hope the posts aren’t too long or anything, just thought I’d let you all know what my plans are for 2014. Let me know what you all think if if you have any idea’s for me.
Examples of Companion Planting taken from the Afristar Foundation, more from them to follow
Showing information and a diagram of Crop Rotations and Successions in a Permaculture Garden.
Photo Credit: Graham Bell in The Permaculture Garden