Category Archives: Companion Planting

Planning and Planting a Drought Tolerant Vegetable Garden

In Virginia we have had summer heat and dryness earlier . May and June presented many hot dry days and for some people the result is a stunted garden that was hit with heat before the roots and established at a safe depth to thrive in the heat of summer.

After we/you do some “regular” watering to keep everything growing………

WHAT CAN BE DONE FOR THIS SEASON?

The next question is , HOW CAN WE PREVENT THIS PROBLEM IN THE FUTURE?

Immediate Solution / Actions:

Water more frequently in smaller amounts. Water directly without sprinkler or over head water spraying gear. This will limit evaporation and get the most water to the roots. The plants will get stronger as the roots spread and reach more deeply into the soil. They will also get more of the necessary nutrients from the soil (and those added), as the roots grow and reach the plant becomes stronger. The stronger plnt will have deeper roots and greater ability to survive tough weather

HOW to MULCH  EACH PLANT ? :

If you have mulched already- how thick is it? What material did you use? What if the soils is naked now?…..What do you have to mulch with right now?
BIG MULCH QUESTION(s)- Can water flow through to the soil/roots? Does it remain damp?

You will need a BIO-degradable material and I have found cut grass to be the best option, since it is readily available, porous and lightly colored ( so it won’t get too HOT !!)

Rake up  some freshly cut grass ( or use the grass catcher when cutting)  and spread it  around the base of each plant or along the rows. Strive for a 2-4 inch layer of grass . May build up to 4 inches over 2 or 3 lawn mowing efforts.  give each newly mulched plant a bit of water to fix the grass in place and to start the process.

Mulch will serve a few purposes- 1) keep the ground cool   2) break down for soil amendment and BIGGIE 3) will help soil hold the water and keep it with the plant and roots.

Other mulch materials- chopped leaves (if whole- runner through mower), pine needles, shredded paper mixed with leaves or grass [don’t shred

LEAVES OF GRASS

] , wood chips, saw dust, or compost.

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PLANTING and PLANNING What goes Where??

Now that we have so many diseases and pests in the garden we have to have a planned rotation to prevent damage to the crops and the garden that is the result of a carryover from the previous season.

Some diseases and some “visitors” may remain in the garden over the winter and be prepared when spring returns BUT if the new plants are different and from different species and families the bugs and “bugs” may not be able to bother us.

I keep a schematic from yer to year to facilitate movement planning but this post will address what plants to have close to one another ( to maximize space and create  symbiotic environment  in the garden) because the work well together. .

Many plants thrive when close to each other and other combinations should not be created.

My favorite combos include:

1. I love cabbage (and broccoli,cauliflower,brussels sprouts,kale) so ONIONS, BEETS ,CUCUMBER, and some herbs fill the partner role.

2. I also love squash so partners include:  NASTURTIUM,ONIONS,OREGANO. If planting on hills or mounds- melons are a great teammate.

3.  and of course for Tomatoes: I am partial to ONIONS/GARLIC, BASIL AND OREGANO . Especially when harvested they can be used for many dishes.  Other useful partners include borage, peppers, parsley and bee balm.

These plants are good companions because they share soil nutrients, repel invaders from one another, and in many cases they fill all available surface preventing weeds.

I rarely plant something by itself( other than roses- which are quite selfish in the soil).. I like the idea of biointensive planting and harvesting as much as possible from each available foot in the garden.  Many of these plants also host useful/helpful insects.

What do you like to grow?  Why?

What partners does your favorite have?

Recently found a chart with a nice summary- not much explanation but a good listing.

http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/vegetables/vgen/companion-vegetable-garden.htm

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