Digging Deep for May
By Cynthia Brian
“Be careful the environment you choose for it will shape you; be careful the friends
you choose for you will become like them.”
W. Clement Stone
People have acquaintances, friends, and best friends. We may like or dislike our acquaintances, get along with our friends, and really love our best friends. In fact, when it comes to our best friends, we sometimes feel that we couldn’t live without them. Most of the time, we discover that we are different than our B.F.F.’s, yet complementary. In the world of nature, plants have favorite companions as well as ones that they wish they’d never encounter. By planting our gardens in potagers that include herbs, fruits, and flowers instead of rows, we gain destructive insect –repellent properties, beneficial insect attractors with benefits of higher yields and healthier plants.
As we start digging in our enriched earth this spring to plant our veggies, it is useful to know what specimens are compatible and which ones repel one another. Like humans, plants encounter plants that they don’t like and when planted near one another, neither thrives. The idea behind companion planting is to mix flowers and herbs in a patch together. Herbs have high concentrations of aromatic oils that protect vulnerable plants from insect attacks and many gardeners find that growing certain plants together actually increases flavor in fruits or vegetables and fragrance in blossoms.
Some of the helpful herbs are rue, tansy, lavender, chamomile, Artemisia, savory, dill, rosemary, catnip, sage, thyme, and pennyroyal. Supportive flowers are marigold, nasturtium, and nicotiana. Garlic and chives are happy bedfellows with roses and several other plants, giving off an odor that deters aphids and blackspot. A brew of garlic tea sprayed on plants keeps pests at bay. Chamomile has often been called “the plant’s physician” because it has a reputation for improving the health of surrounding flowers and herbs. Pennyroyal keeps ants away and marigolds deter beetles, white flies, and maybe even rabbits. Nicotiana works on a trap principle where it will attract a predator, which are then caught in the sticky stems and leaves. Nasturtium is repulsive to many bugs, beetles, moths and improves flavors while providing a cascade of edible flowers with long blooming times.
It is fascinating that while one plant may be beneficial to many plants, it could be harmful to some. Experiment companion planting with some of these popular home-grown vegetables and see if you experience a difference in quality, quantity, flavor, and pest resistance.
BEANS: Friends of beans include eggplant, beets, potatoes, peas, radish, chard, cucumber, everything in the cabbage family, and marigolds. Enemies of beans are garlic, onions, and chives as they stunt growth.
KALE: Kale is currently the most hailed of the cabbage family. It’s B.F.F.’s include beets, celery, spinach, lettuce, and chard. Plant garlic nearby for improved growth and flavor.
CARROTS: Tomatoes, peppers, peas, radishes, and beans all are happy around carrots. Chives will increase flavor, rosemary and sage will keep the carrot flies from destroying the crop but keep the dill in a galaxy far, far away or you’ll have stunted growth.
CORN: Don’t plant corn next to tomatoes as the same worm munches on both. Instead, corn enjoys companionship from parsley, melon, pumpkin, and beans. Plant marigolds to fend off Japanese beetles.
EGGPLANT: One of my most favorite vegetables to plant, it thrives with peppers and beans. Again, marigolds are friends with eggplant.
LETTUCE: So easy to grow in a home garden, throw some seeds nearby strawberries, radishes and beets. Boost flavor and aphid control with garlic and chives.
POTATOES: Allies are my favorite eggplant, corn, cabbages, and beans. Keep tomatoes and potatoes away from one another or you’ll attract blight. For protection from beetles, plant marigolds.
PUMPKINS: Every kid wants to grow his/her own Halloween Jack O’Lantern. Squash and melons are good buddies with pumpkins. Nasturtium and oregano provide the pest protection.
STRAWBERRIES: Thyme serves as border patrol. Lettuce, bean, onion, and spinach all like to party with strawberries but don’t invite cabbage.
TOMATOES: We already know that potatoes and corn are not to be planted with tomatoes, but you need to know that dill and kohlrabi will stunt growth. Friends include basil, chives, mint, celery, cucumber, onion, parsley, and pepper-all the delicious ingredients of a summer salad!
When you go out into your garden this spring, think about building a community of symbiotic friends. Don’t forget the Iroquois threesome called “The Three Sisters”–corn, squash, and beans, inseparable sisters that grow and thrive together.
It’s great to have a B. F. F. , especially in the garden.
“Good friends are like stars….
You don’t always see them,
but you know they are always there.”
~ Eleanor Roosevelt
Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!
Cynthia Brian’s Mid Month Reminders
CLEAR debris from your home and garden perimeter. Dried limbs, leaves, and weeds need to be removed. Fire season is upon us.
WATER deeply once or twice a week rather in short spurts. You’ll encourage stronger roots and save on your water bill too.
DOWNLOAD a new FREE App: “GrowIt!”. The app combines user-uploaded photos and GPS utilization with the ability to rate plants to help people find specific plants and inspiration for your locale available at both the Apple App and Google Play stores.
CUT twining stems of clematis for arrangements that will be colorful and full for three weeks or longer.
Happy Gardening, Happy Growing.
Read Press Pass: http://vapresspass.com/2015/05/20/bffs/
The Goddess Gardener
Starstyle® Productions, llc
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Cynthia Brian is a New York Times best selling author, speaker, coach, and host of the radio show, StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!® broadcasting live every Wednesday from 4-5pm PT on the Voice America Network.. She also is the creator and producer of Express Yourself!™ Teen Radio and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® 501c3 charity.