companion planting made easy - high plains food bank

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Companion Planting Made Easy - High Plains Food Bank

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  • 1. COMPANIONPLANTING M ADE EASYExcerpted from Companion Planting, a book from Rodales Successful Organic Gardening series (copyright 1994). Reprinted with permission of Weldon Russell Pty. Ltd.Copyright 1995 by Rodale Press, Inc., Emmaus, PA 18098.Fourth Printing 1999

2. Text: Susan McClurePlant-by-Plant Guide: Sally RothGardening editor: Nancy OndraProject editor: Linda HagerCopy editor: Susan FoxCover and book designer: Judy RossInterior illustrations: Frank Fretz 3. Contents Introduction ~4~How Does Companion Planting Work?~4~Getting Started with Companions ~7~Growing a Companion Garden~7~Plant-by-Plant Guide~8~ 4. IntroductionWouldnt it be great if you encourage your plants to work could just plant your gar- together, sharing water and nutri- den and forget it? Yourents and protecting each other fromplants would grow lush andpesky insects. Companion Plantinghealthywithout you adding lots ofMade Easy is your guide to usingfertilizer or worrying about pest time-tested techniques for healthierproblems. Well, any kind of gardenplants, bigger harvests, and fewerwill need some care, but you canpest problems.How DoesCompanion Planting Work?In the simplest terms, companionings of just a few different plantplanting is the technique of combin-species. These large groups of simi-ing two plants for a particular pur-lar plants, called monocultures, arepose. If your crops are regularly prime targets for insect and diseaseattacked by insects, you can useattack. Increasing the diversity ofcompanions to hide, repel, or trapyour garden plantings is a naturalpests. Other companions provide and effective way to avoid a mono-food and shelter to attract and pro-culture and minimize pest and dis-tect beneficial insects. And some ease problems.plants grow well together justTechnically, adding diversity couldbecause they dont compete for lightbe as simple as increasing the num-or rooting space. Expanding the ber of different plants in your gar-diversity of your garden plantings andden. Sounds simpleuntil youincorporating plants with particularlyrealize that you have a limiteduseful characteristics are both part of amount of room in your garden,successful companion planting.which is taken up by your favoritecrops. But, if you create a plannedCreating Diversitydiversity, you can still have good (orIn contrast to the wide diversity ofeven better) yields from the samenatural systemslike forests andamount of space.prairiesour gardens and farmsFor instance, instead of growingtend to contain neat, identical plant-the same vegetable cultivars in the4 5. same beds every year, try changingthe soil as the nodule-bearing rootstheir positions each year, or at leastdie off and decompose. This nitro-try different cultivars. To get evengen is available during the season tomore diversity, try open-pollinated boost the growth of any companionseeds instead of hybrids. The plantsplants growing nearby. The bigfrom open-pollinated seed are all bonus comes when you turn thejust a little different genetically, so foliage and roots of the legumeseven if pests or diseases attackinto the soil. When they decay, theysome of the plants, the rest of the can release enough nitrogen to feedcrop may be spared. the next crop you grow.An easy and pleasant way to adddiversity to the vegetable garden isRepelling Pest Insectsto add flowering plants. Mix annual A key part of creating effective cropflowers and herbs in the beds orcombinations is using the naturalrows of vegetables, or create per-abilities of the plant to attract, con-manent beds nearby for perennials fuse, or deter insects. Some plantsand bulbs. Besides looking good,produce repellent or toxic com-flowers provide a source of foodpounds that chase pests away orand shelter for spiders and benefi- stop them from feeding. In othercial insects that eat or parasitize cases, the aromatic compoundsplant pests.released by plants can mask thescent of companion crops. SummerEnriching the Soilsavory, for example, may help hideAll plants withdraw some nutrientsyour bush beans from pests, whilefrom the soil as they grow, but sometansy is said to repel Colorado pota-actually return more nutrients than to beetles from a potato planting.they consume. Legumesplants like Garlic releases deterrent aromaspeas, beans, and cloverhave ainto the air that may chase awaymutually beneficial relationship with insects such as bean beetles andnitrogen-fixing Rhizobium bacteria. potato bugs. Mint may keep cab-These bacteria colonize legumebage loopers off cabbage plants,roots, absorbing up to 20 percent ofwhile basil can discourage tomatothe sugars the plants produce. Thehornworms on tomatoes.bacteria use this energy to capture Try pungent plants as an edgingatmospheric nitrogen (nitrogen gas) around garden beds, or mix them inand convert it into nitrogen com- among your crops. Or, if you cantpounds that plants can use. grow the repellents close enough toSome of this nitrogen goes direct-your crops, try spreading clippingsly back to the host plant. Anotherof the scented plants over gardenpart of the nitrogen trapped by the beds for the same effect.Rhizobium bacteria is released into5 6. Luring Pests from Crops or apply some other type of controlSome plants have an almost irre-measure to the infested plants.sistible appeal for certain pests.Nasturtiums, for instance, are anSheltering Beneficialexcellent attractant plant becauseInsectstheyre a favorite of aphids. Not all insects are garden enemies.Colorado potato beetles find blackMany actually help your gardennightshade (Solanum nigrum) grow by eating or parasitizing plantmore alluring than even your best pests. You can encourage these ben-potato plants.eficial creatures to make a home in Attractant plants can protect your your garden by planting theircrops in two ways. First, they act as favorite flowering plants. Growingdecoys to lure pests away from your dill, for example, can attract pest-desirable crops. Second, they makeeating spiders, lacewings, and para-it easier to control the pests sincesitic wasps, which will help controlthe insects are concentrated on a caterpillars on cabbage, beetles onfew plants. Once pests arecucumbers, and aphids on lettuce.trapped, you can pull out the Plants that produce large quantitiesattractant plants (cover them withof easily accessible pollen and nec-paper or plastic bags first, if the tarlike yarrow, fennel, and gold-pests are small or fast-moving) and enrodprovide shelter and supple-destroy them along with the pests,mental food for hungry beneficials.6 7. Getting Startedwith CompanionsWith so many possible plant combi-compatible companions, as well asnations, it can be hard to know helpful growing information. Usewhere to start. To increase yourthese suggestions as the basis forchances of success, try a compan- your trials.ion planting scheme that has beenAlso, keep your eyes open forfound effective in scientific studies existing garden plants that you canor that has the confirmation of a use in your own companion plant-wide variety of gardeners from vary-ing experiments. Look closely ating climates. As you gain confi-flowers around your yard to seedence, you can branch out to trywhich harbor a wealth of beneficialless-proven combinations. insects; you may want to plant moreYou may want to start by selectingof these attractant plants. If you finda companion for one of your a quick-growing weed or vegetablefavorite cropstomatoes, forthat is crawling with a bumper cropexample. If you look up the of pests, take noteit could makeTomato entry on page 38, youll a good trap crop to lure pests awayfind recommendations for allies and from your other plants.Growing a Companion GardenCaring for companion plantingsget the most out of companionisnt very different from how you planting, its often wise to try a com-normally care for your garden. Youbination at least twice; three times isstill need to prepare the soil well,even better. Then you can look atplant at the proper time, and water the overall performance of the com-and fertilize as necessary. bination and make an informedThroughout the season, observedecision on whether its worth try-the performance of the companioning again. Youll soon build a list ofplantings youre testing. Keep aplants and techniques that willnotebook where you can record the make your garden more productivesetup and the results of the trials. To and even easier to maintain.7 8. Plant-by-Plant Guide grapes were sometimes trellisedAsparagusbetween the asparagus rows.Asparagus officinalisENEMIES: None known.LILIACEAEGROWING GUIDELINES: Asparagus grows well in most areasALLIES: According to companion that have either winter groundgardening lore, planting pars- freezes or dry seasons. Choose aley or tomatoes with aspara- well-drained spot in full sun, andgus will invigorate both dig in plenty of compost or agedcrops. Interplantings of manure. Its important to prepareparsley, tomatoes, and basil the soil well, since plants may staymay discourage asparagusin place for 20 years or more.beetles. Many companion Most gardeners startgardeners find that aspara- asparagus from 1-year-oldgus grows well planted crowns. Buy all-male plants ifnear basil. available. Place purchasedCOMPANIONS:crowns 18 to 24 inches (45 toInterplant early60 cm) apart in a trench that iscrops, such as12 inches (30 cm) wide and 8lettuce, beets,or spinach,between therows in spring.In summer, add alate planting of let-tuce and spinachwhere the fernyasparagusplants will pro-vide some need-ed shade. InColonial times, 8 9. inches (20 cm) deep. Allow 4 to 5make a neat edging along flowerfeet (1.2 to 1.5 m) between rows.borders. Purple-leaved cultivars likeCover with 2 inches (5 cm) of soil.Purple Ruffles are great in flowerAdd another 2 inches (5 cm) of soilbeds as well as in vegetable andevery 2 weeks until the trench isherb gardens.filled. Mulch well and water regu- ENEMIES: Even in the 1600s, gar-larly during the first 2 years after deners o