Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Peas and carrots, carrots and peas...

Peas and carrots, carrots and peas... I admit that phrase is burned indelibly on my brain after watching hours of "Super Why." But it's becoming of greater importance these days, as I'm working to plan my vegetable garden in admittedly small spaces.

See, I got a little overambitious with my garden planning this year. In a desperate attempt to get more plants without shortchanging my small yard, I started looking into the idea of "companion planting." The short explanation is mixing your plants in a way that helps them out - whether by providing shade or supporting nutrients to the plants surrounding them. Or perhaps growing one plant next to another repels insects that may harm the other plant.

I started researching companion planting, and after referencing several books and sites and trying to make sense of what I could or should plant together, it began to look like a jumbled mess:

Sounds easy in theory. Peas, lettuces, onions, radishes, beans and tomatoes seemed the most "friendly" to other plants. But then, you haven't factored in height or root vegetables, or which plants take up more space than others. In my first attempt to get this all straight, I was left shaking my head, not really sure where I ought to plant things at all.

I'm left wondering whether my approach last year is just as well: Have a plant that takes a lot of ground space, like squash? Underplant with some root vegetables or onions. Have a hole after something's been taken out? Add some new seeds and see what happens.

Either way, I've got plenty of time to consider it. My weekend of keeping my seed starts outside have left wilted, lifeless plants in its wake!

Have you tried companion planting? What system works for you?

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