Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Companion Planting and free plants!

In my garden this year have been a number of experiments.  The first one being to see how much new food I could get from organic groceries.  Potatoes were the first experiment.  All winter long I dropped the eyes of my organic potatoes into this bed:

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You can see them coming up in the middle area of the bed.  Tons of them!  And I didn’t buy a single potato start… I just used my red and fingerling potato eyes from the bags of organic potatoes I bought.

Around my potatoes I decided to do some companion plantings of beans and broccoli.  The beans are nitrogen fixers, making the potato greens strong and green, which will in turn, make more potatoes underground (or that’s the thought any way).  The broccoli around the outside will shade the young plants and the potatoes and beans will deter cabbage worms from setting in the brassica crop.

In this bed is my peas, violas, lemon verbena, kale, cilantro, and garlic.

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I planted peas as I usually do.  I know I should rotate, but I replaced the soil with composted chicken bedding last fall and so I doubt feeding or pests will be an issue with the peas being in the same spot as last year.  Just in case though, I added a row of spring garlic in front of the row of peas and two plants of lemon verbena to confuse any buggies that may remember where they were.  In the main portion of the bed is kale and cilantro.  I am using both as a cut and come again crop and that will work well until the cilantro bolts mid July or so.  Then I will succession plant lettuces here.

Similar story in this bed:

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Peas put in their usual spot, lined with spring garlic.  In this bed though, I added my head lettuces, and I allowed the parsley to winter over.  It will bolt soon (both varieties are trying already but I am pinching them off) and seed.  I may have to get a new set, but for now it’s still giving me tasty parsley for meals and I love the big bunches of green!

I have two beds of this (this one and the one you can see in the upper left):

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From the outside in rows, this bed has been seeded with carrots, spinach, onions, basil, and then I am saving the center area for tomatoes.  I sowed the spinach on top of the carrot seeds because early the spinach will not mind the crowding and later, as the spinach dies off, it will leave fresh aerated soil that the carrots will grow fat in.  The onions deter tomato pests and carrot pests, making it a perfect addition to this bed, and the basil is said to make tomatoes taste better… although with garden tomatoes that would be difficult.  They are already the best tasting food ever.

In this bed is cauliflower, cabbage, another row of onions, dill and beets.

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The side closest to the camera is the side with the brassicas.  Tucked in around those hardy plants is dill seed which I haven’t seen pop up yet, but it shouldn’t have an issue now that the ground is 45*.  The dill will deter the cabbage beetle and the cabbage will shade the dill and help it from bolting.  Win/win.  The onions are friends with everyone, confusing pests and not minding crowds and on the other side of the onion row is 5 rows of beets.  Only golden and Chioggia this year.  The red ones just are not my thing.

The one not pictured is the corn and squash bed.  Nothing is coming up yet in it, so a bed of dirt is kinda boring.  I will add in pole beans when it’s warm enough in that bed and the one below. 

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This bed is Cyan’s rainbow garden.  Red cabbage, yellow onions, yellow wax beans, purple bush beans, and nasturtiums.  In the center is a bean trellis that will be the center piece of the garden with it’s yellow beans and bright orange nasturtium flowers! 

Two other beds have perennials in them.  Strawberries and herbs are two, and then the last bed is self seeded wild flowers!

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I have found cosmos, CA poppies, red poppies, sunflowers (red and “moon”) and marigolds, foxglove, snap dragons, sweet peas and several others I won’t be able to identify until I see more.  I am really hoping that the bachelor buttons self seeded because those are a favorite of mine, but even if they didn’t, I am pretty excited about this free bed of goodness.

My very last bed (the one along the back of the house)  is filled with free dahlias that a neighbor was so generous to give me and last night I walked out there and saw them starting to come up!  Dahlias are by far and away my favorite flower (it’s pretty obvious as there are several pictures of them up in my house).   I haven’t had them since we moved from the Red House 3 1/2 years ago and I am SO excited to have them in my garden!

What’s coming up in your Spring garden?

3 comments:

Cat J B said...

Wow, awesome garden! We're in autumn now, so summer gardening is winding up.

Frannie said...

yeah yeah yeah...I love using your garden plans:):):) Love them, especially Cyan's. I'll have to do that with the boys for next year.

Val in the Rose Garden said...

Cat - Thank you! Fall is my favorite season! But I don't think it would go over so well with out spring and summer to come before so I could get all harvest joy. ;)

Frannie - there is still time! Just buy starts and you could have a rainbow garden this year. ;) We added bright red peppers around the outside last night. They plants are so tiny that we cold framed them with mason jars to save them from the frost. We'll see how well that does and I'll let you know!

Blessings,

Val