Thursday, June 19

Companion Planting in the Garden

We finally got our plants in the ground a few weeks ago (our mini greenhouses really helped our little plants get strong and hardy for the transplant) and we tried something new this year to hopefully increase our yields. I started reading up on companion planting with a couple books from the library (available here and here). The gist of it is that some plant, when grown together, help each other thrive while others can actually keep each other from producing. 

There was a lot of information in those books, so I started by making a list of all the things we would be growing and making a column of thing that grew well with it and another column of things to avoid. From there, knowing I would have three garden beds to work with, I did my best to divide them into three list of compatible plants. In the first bed we planned tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, eggplant, and some spinach. Those things also grow well with strawberries and asparagus, which already grow along the garage, so all these things went in the neighboring bed. In the second bed we planned broccoli, onions, cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, hyssop, and squashes (we have pumpkin, acorn, and I think zucchini but I didn't label them all and a few didn't make it this far... so we'll have some surprises!). They also grow well with chamomile which I'd love to add, maybe around the fence since it tends to spread. The third bed is just a little guy and he got stuck with all the things that didn't fit anywhere else - potatoes, beans, cantaloupe, and snake squash and tiny pumkiny things courtesy of my sister. I don't think those even are supposed to grow together... I do better next year.

Then I grabbed a handy print-out from my square foot garden book to use as a spacing reference during planting and headed out to the garden (which is now fenced in!).

But wait... did I say three beds? We also had to dig up two more. While we love our raised bed and hope to upgrade these in the future, the wood/bricks and especially the compost to fill them was not in the budget at this point. So we broke out the handy shovel and dug. And dug. And dug. Cried a little. Dug some more. Okay we didn't actually cry, but I don't think the neighbors would have judged us if we did. We added another long bed marked with flags in the pic below, and a smaller bed across the end of the garden (perfect for beans since it's right along the fence!).

We worked in small sections at a time loosening the soil, pulling up the grass (make sure you get those roots!), and shaking as much dirt off the roots and back into the bed as possible. Shaking the dirt off is important so you end up with a nice bed full of dirt instead of a big old hole.

Bye bye grass!

When it came time to actually get the plants in the ground I started by laying out all the pots to figure out the spacing and make sure everything would fit.

Once I was happy with the layout I started getting those babies in the ground. Hooray!

A friend told me tomato plants should be planted a little deeper, enough to cover the bottom purplish part of the stem if any is showing because it will send more roots out and be stronger. You can actually see little white nubs at the bottom of this one where it's trying to root, so I made sure to dig a little deeper with these guys.

I added support cages for the tomatoes... actually Big Brother added them at first:

Then we just waited, watered, and pulled any stray weeds.

Fast forward to this week... Our salad garden has spinach and lettuce taking off one one side.

And herbs galore on the other!

Over in the big garden the tomatoes are going crazy.

We have broccoli cabbage, squash, melons, and more taking off in the new bed.

Peppers actually growing for the first time ever now that bunnies can't eat them down to stumps. (and a stray red leaf lettuce. it's an experiment to see where it grows better.)

And we are so excited that out black raspberry bush is finally thriving free from bunny tyranny! I think we're actually going to get some berries this year!

And that's where we're at so far.

Hopefully these plants hang on and we end up with some yummy home-grown produce this year.

I'll share more details about our no-more-bunnies fence soon. I think it's making a big difference already!

But for now I'll leave you with scenes from the sandbox:

Boy eats rock.

"What rock, mom? Me? Really? I don't think so..."

He's already decided sand does NOT taste as good as tiny rocks. Yay.

Bigger boy finds pill bug.

And make a cage for said pill bug.

But pill bug keeps escaping. What's the deal, pill bug???

Pill bug cage take two. While keeping a close eye on Pill Bug of course.

So guys, let's hear all about your plants and pill bugs!  Anyone else expand this year? Are you trying any new plants? Did your pill bugs escape?

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