Planting friends, row by row
by B. Durbin Wean
you haven’t started your veggie
garden, now is the time.
Be sure that you have prepared the soil by working in compost and figured out how to get water to your vegetables. You may want to consider a drip system because it is easy, saves water and puts the moisture where you want it.
If you have rabbits that are running around in your yard, are cute and have a white cottontail they are death to your little seedlings and can strip your garden in a heartbeat. I speak from experience so take my advice and install an inexpensive little fence around your plat by pounding in three-foot metal stakes and stringing up chicken wire. It actually isn’t every intrusive if you use the green stakes and wire. Rabbits dig so you might want to insert your wire in a little trench. Now you are ready!
Have you ever heard of companion planting? It is interesting in that just as you and I have good friends that we love being around there are other people that seem to be a negative influence and you avoid. Plants are the same way. As you are planning your vegetable garden it may help to plant good friends next to each other. Radishes and spinach like each other, pepper and eggplants, corn interplanted with pumpkins, squash and radishes, shallots and beets, cabbage and marigolds, potatoes and horseradish, carrots and tomatoes, or carrots and sage with leaf lettuce, cucumbers and small sunflowers all love each other.
Bush beans planted with potatoes protect the bush beans from the Mexican bean beetle, it is considered best to plant in alternate rows. While bush beans also do well when planted with cucumbers. All beans dislike onions. Can you imagine anything not loving onions?
You know how I love flowers in the vegetable garden. You will too when you know how they help your veggies. Try geraniums with cabbages, they repel cabbage worms and are good to plant among roses, grapes and corn in your fight against Japanese beetles. Use the white variety near corn. Use scented ones like peppermint, lemon and any others you can find. All the alliums – garlic, onions, chives and shallots are beneficial to roses, even helping to prevent against black spot, mildew and aphids. No guarantee, but what have you got to lose when you can enjoy the wonderful fragrance as you pull the weeds between your garlic and onions?
Of course you will want to plant plenty of basil because if you don’t use it in cooking, you will want to pick up a few leaves warmed from the sun as you walk around and inspect your garden. The scent is exquisite and addictive. Also sage, dill, marjoram and other herbs are wonderful just to smell when you enter your garden.
Here are some plants that will help control your pests without using chemicals. Basil; against flies and mosquitoes; Borage: against tomato worm, Catnip; against flea beetles, Garlic; against Japanese beetles, aphids, weevils, fruit tree borers and spider mites. Garlic is good for everything!
Here are some hints for you as you prepare your garden. Don’t forget to add some fun bush string beans in different colors, purple, green and wax are all delicious and you won’t believe how many beans you will harvest. Unless you can or freeze them, the neighbors will love you for sharing. The purple beans turn green as they cook. Make a wigwam of willow or sticks to support a crop of scarlet runner beans. Please plant a row or a patch of red cabbage. Homegrown cabbage, red or green is so sweet and delicious. It tastes so much better than those offered in the grocery store.
Paths can be made of beaten soil and covered with straw that can be raked up each season, put on the compost pile and replaced next year with a fresh layer. You can edge your paths with strawberries and English daisies. Make patches of nasturtiums and pansies that you can add to your summer salads. Which reminds me to encourage you to plants lots of different varieties of lettuce in two-week intervals. Also, I always like to add a row or patch of mesclun because it has a great variety of mixed salad greens in red and green colors. It tastes wonderful and looks great mixed in with your other lettuce.
If you live in an apartment of a condominium, don’t despair. Grow your veggies in a large container. In other words, a small one for chives and large one for zucchini. Use a high quality potting soil and don’t forget a slow release fertilizer that will supply nutrients for a three or six month period. Supplement with weekly applications of fish emulsion (it smells pretty fishy but the plants love it). Have fun planting!