Friday, December 16, 2011

Plants That Love Each Other

I've mentioned before that I'm an enthusiastic researcher. Others might call it pathological, but let's not split hairs. One of my favourite topics to google about is companion planting, especially around this time of year. (K, this time of year is relative to what side of the equator you're standing on, so when you wonder what the H vieve's doing reading up about gardening in December, keep in mind that I'm currently in the southern hemisphere.)

Some folks like to study the behaviour of people, I'm more into finding out what plants are up to. How do tomatoes feel? What's a zucchini's eating habits? What kind of 'hair cut' do blueberry bushes prefer? Why? I'm going to pretend you asked. Aside from the zen-like state I achieve in my garden, I think it's mostly because I don't have to talk to plants to excel at gardening. I'm not much into words, and often find myself at a loss to vocalize the intricate web of ideas bouncing around in my head. I know, I know, you're thinking, "But, vieve! Aren't you supposed to talk to your plants to make them happy?"  Only if you want to come across as bat-ass-crazy!

There's reams of material out there on gardening and how to do it on a small scale and get the biggest bang for your square centimetre, whether all you've got is one window sill or an entire yard. It helps that container and apartment-sized gardening has become trendy. Everybody and their cat has pasted bits of dirt wisdom onto the internet. There are some seriously innovative folks out there who have married the 3 Rs with small scale gardening. This is just one example from the Mother Nature Network :

Companion planting is crucial to a healthy and productive small garden, and it's been around for as long as life has existed on the Earth. Mother Nature is the original master gardener. In her infinite wisdom she places plants together that make each other happy, no couples counseling required. The astute gardener observes what is already there, and draws conclusions from their own experiments, much like a scientist (hmm, gardeners are scientists, gnosh on that thought for a while). Over time we've amassed a wealth of tips such as plant strawberries and spinach together, don't plant tomatoes and potatoes within grub crawling distance of each other, and you can never have enough marigolds.

This chart covers just about everything you might want to plant in your veggie patch:

(You can find the original, larger guide here.)

A couple of books I've found useful are "Carrots Love Tomatoes" by Louise Riotte, and "Companion Planting in New Zealand" by Brenda Little. Charts like the one above are useful, but the books help to explain the whys behind keeping climbing beans separate from sunflowers.

So, have I bored you yet?

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