Monday, April 12, 2010

How does your garden grow? Part 6: Companion Planting.

***Not sure why this didn't post yesterday. Sorry.

What the heck is Companion Planting you ask? It's the whole harmony of sun/shade, birds, insects and the whole kit and caboodle. By planning where to place your crops you can deter or attract what you need all while creating a perfect little ecosystem. It's like saying Mother Nature has your back.

There are a few main techniques to put you well on your way to garden greatness:

- We go together like rama lama lama ke ding a de dinga a dong (Okay Grease fans!)....Kidding, but there are plants that should be planted together and well, plants that shouldn't. Here is what you are probably going to put in your garden this summer. Hope this helps. This isn't a tell all/no fail either. These are just tips ya know!

  • Basil-plant with tomatoes to enhance their flavor. Also acts as a fungicide and can repel aphids and mosquitos. Heck I might start wearing Basil. Now on the other hand don't plant near Sage.
  • Beans-they like partial shade so would be great to plant amongst sunflowers and especially corn. Corn takes a lot of nitrogen from the soil and beans take it from the air and replace it in the soil. Cool! Beans also like cucumbers, but NOT alliums.
  • Bee Balm is a very pretty flower (perennial) that can improve the flavor and growth of tomatoes. Like it's name says, it attracts the bees. Bees are needed to pollinate. Very important.
  • Beets add minerals to the soil. Great for the compost pile.They are buddies with beans too. Just not pole or runner beans. If you plant them together with pole or runner they will stunt eachother's growth. Beets are also pretty good friends with onions and lettuce. Now on the other hand garlic and mint help beets.
  • Cabbage (broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, kohlrabi and kale)/Brassica-total BFFs with onions, potatoes and dill. It improves their health. The whole cabbage family won't ever be seen with strawberries, peppers, grapes, tomatoes and pole beans. Somehow pole bean's brother bush is okay, though. Feuds...I tell ya. Hard to understand sometimes.
  • Carrots-super chummy with leaf lettuce, onions and tomatoes. Try not to plant carrots near parsnips or dill. They fight constantly. Also, as much as carrots love tomatoes they may stunt the carrot's growth. So you will end up with baby carrots, but they will still be yummy---just short.
  • Chives-love to be around carrots and tomatoes and just so happen to make them taste better. Not so much with peas and beans. Chives can prevent back spot on roses, keep aphids away from your tomatoes, sunflowers, and mums.
  • Chrysanthemums-these pretty little guys kill big bad nematodes. The white mums repel Japanese beetles.
  • Corn-corn loves to be used. Use it as a trellis for your climbing beans, cukes or Morning Glory. Keep away from celery and tomatoes.
  • Cucumbers-these guys love to climb corn or sunflowers. Cukes like to hang out with peas, beets, carrots and radishes. The radishes deter cucumber beetles. Nasturtium cheers them on by improving the flavor and growth. Keep the cukes away from potatoes and sage.
  • Garlic-garlic repe;s aphids on roses. It may even repel deer. It also likes to hang out with apple and pear trees. Also, cukes, peas, celery and lettuce.
  • Lettuce-loves the shade of sunflowers. Hang out with cabbage, cukes, carrots, beets, bush beans, radishes, strawberries, and onions
  • Onions-planting summer savory and chamomile enhances their flavor. Onions help strawberries fight disease, but don't plant near peas or asparagus.
  • Parsley-Friend: asparagus, chives, carrots, roses, onions, and tomatoes. Foe: mint. Parsley increases a rose's lovely scent.
  • Peas-replaces nitrogen in the soil. Plant near corn. Also likes bush beans, Pole Beans, Carrots, Celery, Chicory, Corn Cucumber, Eggplant, Parsley, Early Potato, Radish, Spinach, Strawberry, Sweet pepper and Turnips. Really hates onions.
  • Peppers (Sweet)-they love to hang out with tomatoes, basil, parsley, onions, and carrots. Enemies with kohlrabi.
  • Peppers (Hot)-Plant wherever you have root rot problems. Hot peppers love to be by cukes, tomatoes, squash, and sweet peppers. They are enemies with beans, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and fennel.
  • Potatoes-hate tomatoes as they get sick whenever they hang out. Also doesn't especially care for asparagus, cucumber, kohlrabi, parsnip, pumpkin, rutabaga, squash family, sunflower, and turnip. Loves bush bean, members of the cabbage family, carrot, celery, corn, marigold, peas, petunia, and onion.
  • Radishes-These guys are the beloved for the garden. These tough guys deter so many insects. Radishes love everything and everything loves radishes except: cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and turnips.
  • Squah-loves to hang out with Corn, cucumbers, icicle radishes, melon and pumpkin. Marigolds deter squash beetles. Oregeno also provides some protection.
  • Strawberries-loves to hang out with beans, onions, lettuce, and spinach. Would never hang out with the cabbage family. 
  • Tomatoes-tomatoes have lots of friends. They include: asparagus, basil, beans, carrots, celery, chive, cucumber, garlic, head lettuce, marigold, mint, nasturtium, onion, parsley, and peppers. Planted near basil will make these tomatoes super tasty and healthy. Tomatoes don't like to be seen with corn as corn gets jumped by these worms that will jump tomatoes too. Kohlrabi aslo isn't good to be around. It stunts the tomatoes' growth. Also keep away from cabbage and cauliflower.

- Don't be monocromatic! I know it is sooo pretty to plant perfect straight rows of tomato plants, but don't. Plant one here and one over there. This will switch it up for the needed insects that may pollinate or eat other bad insects. If you put all of your tomatoes waaay over there, maybe those little critters won't get over here.

- Give a toad a home. And any other beneficial critter. Use groundcover, rocks, compost piles, name it they like it. Critters are good.

- Use your space wisely. Plant tall sun loving plants amongst short shade loving. The tall guys will shade the little guys. This is sometimes called spatial interaction. No one said you HAD to space your plants perfectly apart like the seed packet so blatantly states.

Hope this helps you plan out your soon to be garden. I can't wait. I am getting soo antsy. Don't be afraid to mix and match. Maybe you have a little botanist in you that you didn't even know existed.

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