I've been planning my raised bed garden for a while now and now I've come to another phase. Figuring out how to plant the garden. I'm planning on using a technique called companion planting. Carol at May Dreams Gardens mentioned this a couple weeks ago although she called it Three Sisters gardening. It's concept is pretty simple, plant plants that go well together. By planting these plants you can better manage pests and encourage your plants to thrive with a symbiotic relationship to each other. Some plants can repel or attract pests and some fix nutrients in the soil. It's definitely worth a try! Since I've never used this technique before I thought I'd look up how to do it and find any resources that would help.
What I am going to do is think about companion planting in respect to my raised bed garden. By using their chart I will try to organize what I plan to plant this year in my vegetable garden.
The first vegetable I usually think about in the garden is the tomato. According to the chart onions, marigolds, parsley, and cucumbers will go well together. I was planning on incorporating some marigolds in the garden but if cucumbers go well with the tomatoes I can mix them. That should save some space since the cucumbers will generally be much lower than the tomatoes. The cucumbers should serve as a green mulch and help retain water around the plants.
For the lettuce we can plant it with cucumber or radishes. We'll probably go with the lettuce and radish combination.
Beans have three entries on the chart. One for beans in general, one for bush beans , and one for pole beans. One interesting thing about beans is they fix nitrogen into the soil. This in turn allows other veggies to absorb the nitrogen in the soil and encourages green growth. We may mix a green bean plant into each of the four larger beds.
The peppers are not listed on the chart so I'll just treat them as tomatoes and plant them in similar conditions.
It looks like squash can be planted with the marigolds but has the potato listed as an incompatible plant. I may try to plant the squash in and around the tomatoes like the cucumbers.
The cabbage is good around herbs and onions. That covers most of the list except for the pumpkins and watermelon. I'll probably plant them by themselves in one of the smaller beds where they will cascade out of the beds.
As with many gardening ideas you have to try them to see if they work for you. Companion planting is something I've been interested in for a long time and I'm excited to see how it goes. It should make going organic easier since the plants are working together to prevent pests, prevent disease, and grow strong.
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Sunday, February 24, 2008
Companion Planting and Raised Beds (A Growing Challenge Post)
Dave is the author of Growing The Home Garden and runs a small nursery business growing vegetables and herbs for local customers in Spring Hill, TN. (Blue Shed Gardens or FB page). He has written for gardening publications, Troy-Bilt and Lowe's and is available for edible garden consulting. Dave gardens organically and when he isn't writing, collecting seeds, or propagating plants he's parenting his 4 children as a stay at home dad.