This weekend I had a pretty interesting journey. I decided to put my old grandmother`s house in order and make myself a weekend getaway. This healthy lifestyle has really grown on me and once I think of my old habits, I don`t want to go back.
This weekend, next on my list, was taking care of that small garden behind the house. I was so excited, my list counted numerous plants, but it didn`t even dawn on me that there are some “rules” to be followed, some policy that we need to respect.
Don`t mix potatoes and tomatoes
I had never thought that I would use this sentence literally. A neighbor was kind enough to explain that even though my garden is small and not that spacious, I needed to be extra careful about how I organize my garden. Seriously!?
There was some rule book on how to grow my garden? I needed to dig a little deeper, before I make a huge mistake and ruin my whole garden. My small garden needs extra attention, since you don`t have all the space in the world, and somehow every plant turns out to be planted near or next to each other. I found a book by Duane Newcomb, called “The Backyard Vegetable Factory”, which explains and answers all questions that some may doubt, like why some plants don`t make good neighbors, what is the reason for that and how can we help ourselves and ease our gardening process.
Why do some plants don`t make good neighbors?
According to Duane`s book, everything can be explained with science, but experience and experiments can also produce good results. So what do we need to do? Take your garden`s size into consideration, make a list of plants you want to have in your garden and start testing and experimenting with your plants. Don`t be discouraged if something doesn`t survive, plants require a lot of love and patience.
After a while, you will become an expert on the topic which plants make great neighbors, which ones make good neighbors and which ones “kill” each other. But, before you master your garden, here are some facts you need to know in order to avoid full disaster in your garden.
1.Watch out on the pH level of the soil: even though it sounds complicated, this activity is actually rather easy and simple to do. Nowadays, we can count on so many tools and devices which will make our lives easier and pH testers are one of them (check this helpful and handy tool MoonCity 3-in-1 Soil Moisture, Light and pH / acidity Meter Plant Tester,Good for Gardener or planter both indoor and outdoors (No Battery needed).
Due to the presence of some compounds in the plants like potassium and nitrogen, some plants can interfere and disrupt the growth of other plants. For instance, some plants require bushy plants, others make great neighbors with everyone and some plants are co-dependent of each other. Spinach is a great neighbor, you can plant it next to whatever you want and the plant will still grow healthily.
For cucumbers, potatoes are the worst enemies, but lettuce, bush beans and radishes suit them well. Cabbage, cucumber, beans, cauliflower, beets, carrots, strawberries and corn get along perfectly as long as you plant them away from leeks, onions, shallots and garlic. Feel free to combine onions with peppers, tomatoes, carrots, eggplant and parsley, but never combine these with kohlrabi. Onions are never combined with beans, peas and asparagus, nor cabbage is combined with lettuce.
2. Some plants get affected by the same or common bacterial or fungal infections, by the same parasites and pests. You should always be cautious about the combinations you make in your garden and bear in mind that due to the fungal infection, corn and tomatoes are always plant separately, in this way, if one of your plant gets affected by infection, it won`t harm the other plant. This rule is also applied on tomatoes and potatoes and potatoes and peppers, they should always be on different ends of the garden.
3. Sun factor: some plants are sun lovers and other will be just fine under the shade. Take this factor into consideration, especially if you have limited soil to work with. Plants which grow tall, may affect the smaller, bushy plants and that will affect their growth. For example, you can plant pumpkins and corn together, because both plants are related in their growth, both plants require sunlight in their early growth, however, once they fully mature, pumpkins will fully benefit the shade which the corn creates.
Plants that don`t grow together
-Tomatoes and potatoes: even though these plants belong to the same family, they simply don`t grow well next to each other. When planted together, the potato loses its ability to defend itself from blight. This infection spreads very fast and it can even be transferred to neighboring gardens. In order to avoid catastrophe like this, plant the vegetables separately.
– Cauliflower and cabbage: The reason why these plants don`t grow together is similar to the one of potatoes and tomatoes. They get infected by something known as club root. This disease as you can guess, affects the root and the plants are unable to take up water and the only cure is to remove both plants with roots and everything. The same happens with tomatoes and radish.
– Beans, peas and onions: if you want to have all three types of plants in your garden, try planting a row of beans, followed by a row of cabbage, then row of onions, a row of lettuce, a row of radish and a row of peas. This way your plants will flourish.
-Other plants known to interfere each other:
Onions and mint interfere asparagus, mustard and pole beans interfere beets, dill and anise interfere carrots and potatoes are the worst neighbors for tomatoes, sunflower, pumpkin, cucumber, radish and squash. The strawberries should stay away from the cabbage family.
I hope I helped just a little bit in the organization of your garden. Remember patience and attention can do wonders with your garden!