Planting Edi                                   Partners     S            ymbiosis. Mutual and multiple benefits. How can e...
ing luscious, plump delectables while holding soil in place. You mayprolong the harvest of fresh lettuce by sowing success...
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5

Cultivating Companions: Planting Edible Partners - Getdowntoearth


Published on

Cultivating Companions: Planting Edible Partners - Getdowntoearth

Published in: Education
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Cultivating Companions: Planting Edible Partners - Getdowntoearth

  1. 1. Planting Edi Partners S ymbiosis. Mutual and multiple benefits. How can each of Here in northern New Mexico, were able to plant many crops be- our actions and choices be beneficial in as many ways as fore the official last frost date of May 15. In fact, we can resuscitate possible? These questions inform and shape my approach our trowels, hoes and rakes as early as March, when the ground is to any garden, landscape, ecological conundrum and challenge. soft enough to implant those precious pea seeds, able to germinate Yes, beauty, but also benefit. And so with growing edibles, there at temperatures as low as 42 degrees. Cold frames are wonderful is the ultimate goal of delicious fare for the dinner table; but how in any garden to extend the growing season: earlier in the spring can the actual growing and cultivation techniques be optimized and later into the fall. Other cool season crops that may be planted to provide the healthiest food and most harmonious growing con- during the cooler months include broccoli, spinach, kale, chard, ditions that give back to the ground, returning valuable nutrients onions, potatoes, beets, rhubarb, asparagus and strawberries. I al- to the soil as well as maximizing our crops ability to grow into ways like to include perennials, herbs and cutting flowers in every their most voluptuous, vibrant, nutritious selves? annual bed and, with the principles of companion planting, decide 9V Imagine that your garden layout and plan is not based on ran- dom whimsy and aesthetic enjoyment alone, but on creating the conditions for plants to thrive. Lets take some of our favorite how to plant these lovelies based on who they like best as neigh- bors. Peas, in the legume family, are nitrogen fixers which feed the soil. They tend to grow best with their below-ground friends, the edibles—vegetables, fruits and herbs—and place them with their carrot and radish. A ground level companion would be lettuce or favorite friends in the garden: a sort of hand-in-hand approach spinach to complement the above-below duo as well as the fra- to planning and planting. Tomatoes, beans, corn, squash, lettuce, grant, prolific and useful chive with its sprightly purple puff seed carrots, berries and herbs, along with annual and perennial flow- head. In order to incorporate a perennial crop into the mix, try ers collaborate in offering bounty for seasonal suppers. Timing, sprawling strawberries, which enjoy the company of spinach and multi-dimensionality, givers and takers, attractors and repellants lettuce as well. Strawberries are wondrous soil stabilizers with their are all factors in deciding what to plant where. runners spreading in all directions rooting and flowering, produc-
  2. 2. ing luscious, plump delectables while holding soil in place. You mayprolong the harvest of fresh lettuce by sowing successively every fourweeks throughout the growing season.Potatoes tend to be somewhat off-putting to a number of vegetables,but those in the cabbage family fare well with their cool-season solan-aceae sister. Broccoli, cabbage and kale are heavy feeders like potatoesand are best rotated into an area that has previously been planted withnitrogen-fixers like peas or beans. Beets and onions are natural below-ground neighbors to these brassicas, and plunge their roots deeply tohelp penetrate and loosen the soil. Beets, carrots and brassicas may besown again in early August for a second harvest come fall, especiallywhen cold frames are available to extend their growing time. Rose-mary and culinary sage are wonderful perennial crops for the gardendiat help cabbages and carrots and offer interesting leaf texture, colorand scent. The annual nasturtium may be incorporated around andamongst the brassicas as temperatures warm, fending off aphids andsquash bugs that flock come late spring and early summer.As your cool season crops are settling into the soil, germinating andgrowing into the coming warmth, you may prepare your warm sea-son crops for their post-frost appearance. After hardening off toma-toes, squashes, cucumbers, herbs and cutting flowers, incorporatethem with the same care into the grand planting scheme alongside Permanent crops such as fruit trees, grapes and raspberries are won-compatible companions. Remember that late spring and early sum- derful to incorporate into a grand garden plan. Consider a perenni-mer are peak times for many garden pests. Row covers help keep al and annual orchard understory cover crop with daikon radishes,flying insects from your tender edibles as they emerge and face the parsley, purslane, borage, yarrow and vetch to lure beneficial pol-challenges of hot, dry, windy weather. Companion planting helps linators to the edible landscape. Raspberries, with their suckeringplants resilience and, coupled with row cover protection, your canes and dense root system hold loose, sloped soil in place whilecrops stand a better chance at optimal growth. providing dainty nectar-filled blossoms for bees and a formidable boundary backdrop to any garden. Perennial species such as laven-Since youve got your perennial asparagus planted (dont harvest der and hyssop also provide valuable medicinals, scent and beautyfor at least three years after planting!), you can position the heavy while deterring pests and attracting beneficials; try them planted infeeder were so fond of close by: the tomato. Tomatoes are also best an interesting geometric pattern or as an orderly row to define gar-planted in a space that has previously grown a giver such as beans den and landscape vignettes around your property. Be sure theyreor peas. Basil, a natural accompaniment in Italian dishes, likes closeproximity to tomatoes and vice versa. Parsley which tends to over- easily accessible, as youll want to brush up against them and cut awinter well here and provide vibrant, frilly green to any garden, sprig or two on your daily harvest rounds.likes to rub shoulders with tomatoes. Bee balm, a striking perennial, Experimentation, observation and active participation are the key toprovides medicinal and aesthetic benefit, attracts beneficial insects a successful garden. If not taken too seriously, companion planting,and aids the growth of tomatoes. Plant abundantly, as it is a must in sowing, cultivating and harvesting are true joys, with wondrous abun-cut flowers to grace the dinner table. Be sure to add color and visual dance springing forth from your efforts. And from the many subtleinterest, as well as deter those pesky pests by planting marigolds of mysteries of how plants grow together.. .plant, learn and enjoy! £all shapes and sizes—not too close to melons or cucumbers which Christie Green is theproprietress of Down to Earth, LLC. Visit her website atmay take on a particular "marigold-y" flavor., or call 505-983-5743Corn, another summer must, loves open space and lots of loamy, richsoil; it feeds heavily and is helped along by pole beans of any sort. The Resourcescorn, in turn, provides an elegant, effective support up which legu- The New Organic Grower by Eliot Colemanminous tendrils twist and twirl their way to blooming bounty. The The Organic Gardeners Home Reference: A Plant-by-Plant Guide tosprawl of winter and summer squashes offers a voluminous mulch Growing Fresh, Healthy Food by Tanya Dencklaover the feet of corn and beans and, with a broad border of medicinal Gaias Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture by Toby Hemenwayand beautiful calendula and yarrow, beneficials will swoon in droves. How to Grow More Vegetables by John 29 edible SANTA FE • Spring 2009