At a recent class, one of our participants, Mrs. Blount who has her Masters in Plant Pathology, gave a class on the benefits of companion planting, and by paying attention to what weeds that grow in your garden, you know the condition of your soil. For the meeting, she set up a display of books that she recommends as excellent resource materials for gardeners.In addition she brought examples of plants with pest and disease problems. We not only had an great turnout for the meeting, but plenty of participants’ children were enthusiastic to attend the class.
What follows are the handouts given to the participants at the class.
Asparagus – A good method for planting is in a long row at one side of the garden After harvest, plant tomatoes on either side, and both plants reap benefits from each other. Parsley planted with asparagus seems to provide vigor to both.
Beans – Generally, beans thrive when interplanted with carrots, cauliflower and beets. They also aid cucumbers and cabbage. A Summer Savory companion improves growth and flavor as well as repelling bean beetles. As a bonus, cook both together for a great flavor. Beans don’t like members of the onion family and they dislike being planted near gladiolas.
Beets – Beets grow well near bush beans, onion, and kohlrabi, but dislike pole beans. In addition, lettuce and brassicas are good companions.
Cabbage – Cole crops such as cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts as well as collards, rutabagas and turnips. They do well when planted with aromatic plants such as dill, celery, chamomile, sage, peppermint, and rosemary. Do not plant with tomatoes, pole beans or strawberries.
Carrots – Onions, leeks and herbs such as rosemary, wormwood, and sage act as repellents to the carrot fly.
Corn – Sweet corn does well with potatoes, peas, beans, cucumbers, pumpkin, and squash. Melons, squash, pumpkin and cukes like the shade provided by corn.
Cucumbers – Cukes seem to be offensives to raccoons, so it’s good to plant the near your corn. Thin strips of cucumbers also repel ants. Sow 2 or 3 radish seeds in cucumber hills to repel cucumber beetles. Don’t pull the radishes even if they go to seed. Cukes and potatoes are antagonistic. Cukes do not grow well with aromatic herbs.
Lettuce – Lettuce grows well with strawberries, cucumbers and carrots. Radishes grown with lettuce are especially good.
Onion – Onions and all members of the cabbage family get along well together. They also like beets, strawberries, tomatoes, lettuce, summer savory and a sparse planting of chamomile. They do not like peas and beans. Ornamental relatives of the onion are helpful as protective companions for roses. Since onion maggots travel from plant to plant when set in a row, scatter your onion plants throughout the garden.
Sweet Pepper – Basil and sweet peppers have similar general requirements. They work well when planted together.
Squash – As with cucumbers, 2 or 3 icicle radishes planted in each hill help prevent insects on squash. Again, let them grow and go to seed. Nasturtiums repel squash bugs. Also, squash planted either earlier or later than usual will often remain insect free.
Tomato – Tomatoes and all cole crops should be kept apart. Tomatoes also dislike potatoes and fennel. Tomatoes are compatible with chives, onion, parsley, marigold, nasturtium and carrot. Garlic planted between tomato plants protects them from red spider mites. Tomatoes protect roses against blackspot. A spray for roses: make a solution of tomato leaves in your blender by adding 4 or 5 parts of water to 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Strain and spray on roses where it is not convenient to plant tomatoes as companions.
The best way to see how companions interact with each other is first follow the given guidelines. Secondly, and most importantly, keep careful records of your successes and failures. Learn the basic combinations and then experiment with your own. Just as every person is different, no two gardens are alike. That is why personal observation is so important.
(This information was obtained from counties.cce.cornell.edu/chemung)
Listen To Your Weeds
Weeds that say your soil is soggy: dock, foxtail, horsetail, willows, goldenrod, joe-pye weed, oxeye daisy, rushes, sedges. In general, keep these wetlands wet. Plant a garden for plants that like wet feet.
- Weeds that say your soil is compacted: chicory and bindweed – along roadsides and in gardens that have been tilled wet. Plant a cover crop of sweet clover that will break up the soil and add nitrogen – add compost. However, Brassica family can grow in a compacted soil.
- Weeds that say that your soil is sour: dandelions, mullein, sorrel, stinging nettle, and wild pansy all thrive below pH 7. Garden crops that like acidity are blueberries, rhubarb, shallots, potatoes and watermelon. You could raise pH with dolomitic limestone following lab test recommendations. Wood ashes also work, but no more than 25 lbs per 1,000 square feet and don’t apply every year. Compost also buffers our soil.
- Weeds that say your soil is sweet: salad burnet, field peppergrass, campion, nodding thistle. Edibles that like alkaline soil are asparagus, broccoli, beets, muskmelon, lettuce, onions, and spinach. To make your soil more acidic, add peat moss or elemental sulfur or add compost.
- Weeds that say your soil is worn out: mullein, daisies, wild carrot (queen anne’s lace) says your soil has poor fertility. Beans, beets, carrots, parsnips, peas, radishes, sage, and thyme tolerate low fertility. If you have major defiecienceis have it tested. Compost and cover crops can maintain and even improve fertility.
- Weeds that say your soil is rich: chickweed, henbit, lamb’s quarters. Redroo pigweed indicates a lot of nitrogen. Knapweed and redclover indicate a lot of potassium. Purslane mustards a lot of phosphorus.