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Companion Planting

December 1, 2011
What is Companion Planting?
Human beings are interesting creatures, we tend to relate to each other based on common interest. Plants, are very much so like humans, then tend to relate to one another based on similarities. Companion planting is the understanding our relationships have with one another. This was developed by gardeners, horticulturists and farmers. One common scientific definition used to describe companion planting is “The placing together of plants having complementary physical demands.” Many things needs to be taken into account when contemplating whether or not to use companion planting. The time in which you decide to plant the seedling is critical, as well as how many of a certain variety of plant you choose to use. It is important to understand the proximity in which you plant companion plant, because you don’t want them to crowd one another.

Happy and Healthy Plants
There are a variety of different plants that can be used with almost all of the plants in the plant community. These plants are called All-Around Beneficial Influence. Each has it’s own characteristic or aid to help plants remain happy and healthy. These plants include

  • Lemon Balm-this is used to create a beneficial atmosphere around its self and attract bees. Lemon Balm is member of the mint family.
  • Marjoram- This plant has positive affect on surrounding plants
  • Oregano-This plant also has positive affects on surrounding plants.
  • Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica)- When used as a plant, this plant “Helps neighboring plants become more resistant to spoiling.” When used as a tea it will aid plant growth and maintain the strength of plants.
  • Valerian- This plant helps stimulate phosphorus activity in the soil. Supports health and disease resistant plants.
  • Chamomile- Concentrates calcium, sulfur and potash in its body. Lime specialist.
  • Dandelion- Must be used in small amounts, helps most vegetables.
  • Oak Tree- In a special tea, helps plants resist harmful diseases.

One of the best ways to maintain healthy plants is being aware of the spacing used when planting them. Plant allowing plant leaves to barely touch each other, this will allow companion friends to become true friends.
Another important thing not to forget is the quality of your soil. Stinging nettle is an excellent thing to add to soil, because it stimulates the microbial life, which will aid in plant growth. There are many ways to replenish soil that has already been depleted of nutrients. One is to sow thistle into the soil, this will bring up nutrients from the subsoil to aid in enriching the top soil.

Nutrition of Plants and Soil
Companion Planting has historically been referred to as crop rotation. Usually heavy feeders are planted first, followed by heavy givers. This is a kind of recycling program where both plants and human participate in taking as much from the soil as they give. After heavy givers are planted, then light feeders are added to the garden. Most the vegetables we eat are heavy feeder, including corn, tomatoes, squash, lettuce and cabbage. These vegetables take a lot of nitrogen from the soil, to replace this nitrogen heavy givers must be planted as well. Heavy givers are nitrogen fixing plants or legumes. Heavy Givers include plants such as peas, beans, alfalfa, clover and vetch, as well as fava beans. All root crops are considered light feeder, these include produce such as turnips, sweet potatoes and green peppers.

Determining the Spacing of Plants
There are many factors to take into account when deciding what plants you want to have in your garden. Listed below are some helpful gardening techniques.

  • Border Plants

Border plants are resourceful because when planted around the garden they will repel moles and other unwanted garden critters. Some useful boarder plants include, Castor beans, daffodils, narcissus, scilla and grape hyacinth. Yarrow works extremely well when planted in-between paths. When planted around the boarder of a herb garden, it will help improve the growth of essential oils in the herbs.

  • Catch Cropping

This simply means planting plants that mature fast. For instance when growing tomatoes, place some carrots or radishes near it, so you can harvest them sooner.

  • Climate

Every place is different. It is good to take into account what kind of seasons you have where you live and what your average rainfall is. For the best result research plants recommended for your area. It is still fun to experiment with plants that are on the boarder of being successful producers in your climate. Sometimes it can be interesting to create a mini climate for them to help them succeed in your climate.

  • Frost Often times vegetables are categorized as to how well they will survive frost. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has created a system for classifying plants in terms of how they will survive frost;

-Hardly or cool season-crops will survive medium to heavy frosts. -Semi-hardly vegetables will survive light frost. Seeds will germinate at relatively low temperatures, and can be planted 2 to 3 weeks before the last frost date. -Tender or warm season crops will die at the mercy of frost. There seedlings will not survive.

  • Intercropping

This is truly the heart of companion planting. This is the idea of having two of the same plants planted in the same area of space. This enables you to have a small garden and still be able to grow all the vegetables you plan on growing. Often times it is best to place things that mature fast with things that mature slow, this is so that after you harvest the fast maturing produce, the slow maturing produce will have time to spread out and become a big producer.

  • pH

-pH is simply indicator of how much acidity or alkalinity is concentrated in something. This is expressed in units. It is generally used in horticulture science to indicate the quality of the soil. Soil acidity is indicated in two different types active and potential. This is when the state of the concentration of hydrogen ions (H+) is more then that of hydroxyl ions (OH-). When the balance between the two is equal you have what is called neutrality. -Active soil acidity represents the excess of H ions over that of Oh ions. This is expressed in pH units on the pH scale. On the scale 7 represents neutrality; anything higher means alkalinity and anything lower means you soil is acidic.

  • Succession Planting

This will allow you to make the most out of compost or fertilizer in soil. Plant heavy feeders such as Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Celery, Chard, Cucumbers, endive, Kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, spinach, squash, sweet corn and tomato. These plants should be planted in soil with newly decomposed manure. Once these heavy feeder are planted, follow it up by planting light feeders such as beets, carrots, radish, rutabaga and turnip. Legumes is the last things you should plant. These plants will restore nitrogen to the soil.

What to plant

Vegetable

Companions

Antagonists

Asparagus

Tomatos, Parsley and Basil

Beans

Potatoes, Carrots, Cucumbers, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Summer Savory, most other vegetables and herbs

Onions, garlic, gladiolus, chives

Beans, Bush

Potatoes, Cucumbers,Corn, Strawberries, Celery, Summer Savory

Onions

Beans, Pole

Corn, Summer Savory, Sunflowers

Onions, Beets, Kohlrabi, Cabbage

Beets

Onions, Kohlrabi

Pole Beans

Cabbage Family (cabbage, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, broccoli)

Aromatic plants, potatoes, celery, dill, chamomile, sage, peppermint, rosemary, beets and onions

Strawberries, tomatoes and pole beans

Carrots

Peas, Leaf lettuce, chives, onions, leeks, rosemary, sage tomatoes

Dill

Celery

Leeks, tomatoes, Bush Beans, Cauliflower and Cabbage

Chives

Carrots, Tomatoes

Peas, Beans

Corn

Potatoes, Peas, Beans, Cucumber, Pumpkins, Squash

Eggplant

Beans, Potatoes

Leeks

Onions, Carrots, Celery

Lettuce

Carrots and Radishes, Strawberries,Cucumbers,Onions

Onions (and garlic too!)

Beets, Strawberries, Tomatoes, Lettuce, Summer Savory Leeks, Chamomile

Peas, Beans

Parsley

Tomatoes, Asparagus

Parsley

Tomatoes, Asparagus

Peas

Carrots, Turnips, Radishes, Cucumbers, Corn, Beans, Most Vegetables and Herbs

Onions, Garlic, Gladiolus, Potatoes and Chives

Potatoes

Beans, Corn, Cabbage, Horseradish, Marigolds, Eggplants

Pumpkins, Squash, Cucumbers, Sunflowers, Tomatoes, Raspberries

Pumpkins

Corn

Potatoes

Radishes

Peas, Nasyurtiums, Lettuce, Cucumbers

Soybeans

Grows with anything, helps everything

Spinach

Strawberries

Squash

Nasturtiums, Corn

Potatoes

Strawberries

Bush Beans, spinach, borage, lettuce, onions

Cabbage

Sunflowers

Cucumbers

Potatoes

Tomatoes

Chives, Onions, Parsley, Asparagus, Marigolds, Nasturtiums, Carrots

Kohlrabi, Potatoes, Fennel, Cabbage

Turnips

peas

Taken from http://www.appropedia.org/CCAT_companion_planting

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