I’m now caught up in my reading about companion plants and eager to share what I have learned. But first, a bit more on the soil testing…
I dried my soil sample in a large pot lid under my covered front porch that I collected two weeks ago, sifted chunks and pebbles out of it, bought the test kit yesterday, and mailed the sample today to Michigan State University. I should have the results in about two weeks. This proves that collecting soil samples and sending them into MSU for testing is certainly possible in winter. Yes, it makes perfect sense to do this in fall, but if you get busy like I do, one warm winter day where a shovel can get into the dirt is all it takes – plus following the kit’s directions (msusoiltest.com).
Companion planting – there is a lot to it and most of the how-to information is based on trial and error. The idea is to plant vegetables, herbs, and flowers together to keep detrimental insects and diseases at bay. This intermingling attracts beneficial insects, confuses insect pests, and can enhance the flavor of vegetables. When a single crop is planted in one long row, it’s like ringing a dinner bell for thousands of tiny jaws to dine and devour. The devouring can happen both above and below ground, and planting time-tested “companions” can limit or eliminate plant damage.
The three randomly selected books (see 1.15.18 post) turned out to be excellent choices due to their diverse discussions of the topic. Each contains a wealth of information and I will configure the following planting combinations into the garden:
Beets with onions, catnip
Carrots with onions, rosemary, sage
Corn with pole beans, squash a.k.a. “three sisters”
Cucumbers with radish, dill, nasturtiums, marigolds
Lettuce with onions, cucumbers, carrots, beets, chives, garlic,
Onions with beets, tomatoes, summer savory
Peas with carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, parsley,
Sweet peppers with tomatoes, carrots, parsley, basil
Tomatoes with onions, carrots, chives, basil, sweet Annie (a favorite), parsley, marigolds, nasturtiums
While I found each book to be very thorough and helpful, Great Garden Companions includes an interesting planting system of “neighborhoods.” I will delve into this deeper and let the new information guide my hand in completing the garden plan. I have a good start already with the three sisters and would also like to include an area for cut flowers, large bottle gourds, and 300-pound pumpkins. I may have lost my mind on this last notion – we’ll see. I’m not planning on renting an end loader and strapping a gigantic pumpkin down on a flat bed truck to show it at the state fair. It would just be fun to see if it’s possible to grow a pumpkin that large.
With the absence of snow, I measured the garden again – measurement by skis was accurate – 27 feet wide x 97 feet long. Also, I photographed the three books at the north end of the garden. Note the turkey prints. We have nine ladies regularly visiting our two bird feeder areas. It’s quite a scene to watch them waddle-run in single file from the far corner of our property directly to the feeders. They visit almost daily.
I’ll be back next week with completed garden plans and next, research the subject of starting seeds indoors. By the time mid-April rolls around, that’s usually when it occurs to me to do that and it’s too late.