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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Herb "forts" and other companion plantings

In her summer garden tour, our gardener Arlene describes the configuration of the plantings in specific beds as herb "forts." This clever name refers to the protective barrier created around different varieties of vegetables; the herbs create a protective barrier because they either repel or attract harmful or beneficial insects. Companion plants can also be effective for other reasons; for example, plant sunflowers next to beans because beans enjoy the partial shade provided by the sunflowers' foliage. To download the pdf of Arlene's Summer Garden Tour visit our website and click on the link to the tour on the homepage.

Specifically in our garden this summer, Arlene discusses the English thyme/garlic chive "forts" that have been planted around the yellow crookneck and rĂªve scallopini squashes. Thyme is a beneficial companion plant because it helps to control whitefly which can be harmful to squash, and because garlic chives contain the same essential oil as garlic, its smell is displeasing to aphids, flies, and mosquitoes. The photo below shows the yellow crookneck squash surrounded by the garlic chives.

The other benefit to utilizing companion planting in your garden is that it decreases the need for pesticides or herbicides. Companion planting is a critical aspect of organic gardens. According to Kelle Carter of Seeds of Change, "Organic gardening is composed of numerous aspects that make up a whole interconnected system. This system relies upon insects, birds, shade, sun, and all other aspects of a living and working community. By growing numerous types of crops you create habitats for beneficial insects or animals, deter problem pests, and enrich your soil to create a living ecosystem of beneficial bacteria and helpful fungi." Read Carter's article about companion plants here; the article is an excellent overview and also includes a chart of plants, their companions and their effects.

You can also visit the Good Life Garden website for detailed information about the crops we have planted currently. We provide information about companion planting and pest management, nutritional information, historical facts, and how to plant, grow and prepare the edibles in your garden.

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