Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Good Companion

We finally have just about all our plants in the ground (except for the new planters we're building). I mentioned when we were starting seeds this year, that I wanted to be more strategic about where we were planting things. We always rotate crops; never planting the same thing that was there last year, and this year we are also trying companion planting (read more about that in this post). I thought I'd just show you what ended up together. 

I planted a lot of squash in the back half of this planter, but I'm hoping that half of them will grow on the trellises so there will be enough room. There's spaghetti squash, acorn squash and butternut squash. The front half is green beans. Marigolds and nasturtium are planted throughout all the gardens to keep the bugs away. Nasturtium is said to help keep white flies away, which we have had trouble with on our green beans in the past.


We'll see if the nasturtium make the tomatoes sweeter like the guide said. Usually we just plant basil in our herb garden, but the last couple of years we feel like they haven't been getting enough sun. We really like basil so this year I gave them some prime spots.


Last year I planted a tomatillo and it got huge, but we didn't really get any tomatillos, because I didn't realize you need two plants for cross pollination. This year we have two and I'm hoping to be able to make some great tomatillo salsa. Our green beans look kind of sad but they are really making a lot of beans. I've already picked a handful. I'm sure they will bush out now that they are in the garden. Last year green beans were one of our highest yield plants. I think I said before, but if you can only grow a few things I would make green beans one of them. We're growing both green and purple again. This is my first time growing beets, so we'll see how those do.


I basically just planted garlic down the sides of all the planters, and on this one I snuck a row of carrots and a row on onions in front of the tomatoes. This is maybe obvious, but make sure to plant things that will get really big in the back of your planter. When tomatoes are small you forget that they will be giant bushes and you won't be able to get around them, so plant short things in the front where you can reach them. : )


 I don't do many pots anymore because in dry Colorado everything dries out so fast. But, I have a few larger ones that usually end up holding the plants I wanted to buy/try so badly but don't really have room for. My eyes are bigger than my garden I guess. This year I have broccoli in the red ones (they might be too small...but we'll see what happens), an olive bush in the lower green one, a paprika pepper surrounded by swiss chard, and a little pot of citrus mint. I do always plant a pot of mint, since if you put that in the ground it will take over the world and you will never get rid of it! Last year we did chocolate mint and this year I got the citrus.


We also like to grow a few determinate tomatoes. Many people don't know there are two kinds of tomatoes: determinate and indeterminate. Determinate means the plant will only grow to about a two foot height, after that the energy goes into making the fruits. Indeterminate means the plant will basically just continue to grow and produce. They will make more fruit usually, but will be giant plants if well cared for. Indeterminate plants should always go in the garden, because a pot will restrict the plant and it will stop producing. Determinate plants are the right choice for patio pots. Our determinates this year are called "nebraska wedding" and "mountain pride." A couple years ago my husband set up a few drip lines so that I don't have to water these larger pots. 


Finally I thought I'd just show you the stuff we planted when it was still cold. I'm glad we started this stuff in early April. We had to cover it for a few snows and cold nights, but now it's mid May and we are picking lots of mixed baby lettuce and spinach,


and the peas are getting huge!


Somehow a lot of pumpkin seeds got in our compost, so I've been pulling out pumpkin seedlings everywhere. But in a few places, where they came up near the edge of a planter I left a "volunteer" to grow out over the side. 



The rest of the stuff we planted after the last snow is finally coming up. It's starting to feel like summer! By the way, on the left below is our oregano, which is perennial. If you have oregano, this is the best time to make some oregano pesto (find my recipe here). The leaves are tender and plentiful, and cutting it now will help it grow longer and not go to seed so quickly.


I love just see all the new life! Doesn't everyone love a fresh start?! Have a great week!
-Haley

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