Four ways to maintain your kitchen plants
These four eco-friendly practices will ensure that reap healthy harvests:
1. Crop rotation
Don't plant the same crops in the same spot, year after year. Rather, divide the vegetables into three basic groups and regularly alternate the areas in which you plant them to ensure your soil remains healthy and to prevent pests and diseases that like to target a specific host from becoming too much of a problem.
REMEMBER: that slow-growing crops such as rhubarb, asparagus and artichokes can remain planted in the same spot permanently.
2. Companion plants
If planted together, certain plant partners can enhance the taste and aroma of a vegetable variety or ward off insects that are a nuisance with their aromatic leaves.
Most companion plants are certain types of herbs that enjoy full sun, fertile soil and sufficient water. However, there are some plants that have a negative effect on each other.
3. Food, water and weed control
Take care of leaf and fruit crops by regularly giving them liquid fertilizer and water. A drip irrigation system, which waters along the soil rather than on the foliage, takes the water to root level and also makes sure the fruits and leaves of plants such as runner beans, which are easily attacked by mildew or mould, remain dry.
Regularly remove emerging weeds that will compete with young vegetable plants. A mulch of organic material such as compost, fine bark and straw will also ensure the soil remains loose, moist and free of weeds.
4. Prevent pests
Harmful pests and diseases can be controlled with chemical pesticides and fungicides applied at least 10-14 days before you harvest. Organic spray mixtures are available at many nurseries, supermarkets and hardware stores.
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