I was rummaging around in a book case the other day and found the old family Bible that I inherited from my grandmother. The Bible itself is pretty ragged, nearly a hundred years old, but precious because Ninna kept treasures hidden inside it. Not treasures of the Biblical kind, but treasures of the Ninna kind: old pictures, a child's drawings, pretty post cards and four leaf clovers.
I found one of my drawings in the old Bible. It's a garden plan that Aunt Bett and I talked about and that Ninna and I were going to plant, but somehow we never really got around to it. It all happened about the same time they told me that corn didn't bloom in pinks and reds and blues. Those blooms belonged to the morning glories that grew up the corn stalks, they said, and brought in all kinds of flying insects that helped pollinate the crops; my first lesson in pollination. It was the same time I was making trellises from baling twine and tomato cages from old fencing wire and hoping I'd driven the wooden stakes deep enough to hold up one more crop. I remember discussing the situation with Aunt Bett, telling her there surely was a better way to keep the green beans and the tomatoes off the ground without tangling with old fencing and knotty baling twine. I drew the diagram for her and Ninna, showing them what I thought would be a better way to plant.
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In my plan, I would plant corn in the center of a row and would have sweet peas growing up the corn stalks. The sunflowers would grow tall and our pole beans would hold on to their stalks. On each end I would plant tomatoes and roses and bee balm and in front, I would plant marigolds and maybe lettuce. It was my ideal garden and I remember it well, even though I only planted it in my mind. When I showed them the picture, Aunt Bett just nodded her head and said I needed two corn plants and Ninna said she reckoned we could give it a try next year, but it was a little too late that summer since everything was already planted and we had beans to pick and cucumbers to gather.
It's many years later now, but it's never too late when you have had a plan as long as I have had mine.
I will have pole beans climbing with my clematis and I will plant sage and marigolds around them to keep the pests away.
I will plant tansy with all of my roses so Japanese beetles won't come near.
I will plant kale around the base of the roses and it will grow in their shade and provide beautiful foliage to hide the spindly rose legs.
I will pot geraniums and plant the pots beside my peppers and I will scatter basil throughout the garden to stop aphids and mites and mosquitoes.
I will have delphiniums and cleomes shading my lettuce and I will have lupins nearby to add nitrogen to the soil.
I will plant tomatoes with my roses on the hill and sunflowers behind them for the tomatoes to lean on.
I will plant zinnias and bee balm will grow close by to bring hummingbirds and pollinators.
I will scatter marigolds throughout the gardens to rid my soil of nematodes.
I will pot mint in containers and plant the pots in empty spots in the garden. The mint will deter aphids and the pots will keep the mint from roaming.
I will plant rue; Japanese beetles hate it. It's low growing and can be added as a border around all my gardens.
I will plant radishes at the base of my tulips; the height is just right, the foliage will contrast nicely and they will be good together.
It isn't that I've grown lazy, it is that I've grown older. I need a high yield from the few vegetables that I plant. I also want beautiful blooms. Vegetables and ornamentals can work together and help each other much more easily than I can help them, since I have less strength and energy than I once had.
It's simple really, all plants depend on the same basic things: fertile soil, sun, shade, water, insects, birds and the right combination of all of them. All I have to do is make sure the perfect combinations are planted together in the right spot.
See, here's the thing: flowers bring in the pollinators and beneficial insects, both crucial to vegetable development. Some highly scented herbs also release various chemicals into the air and the soil, which often means a higher vegetable yield and stronger plants. Some flowers add nitrogen to the soil so it's a win-win situation when we begin to mix vegetables and flowers together.
Combinations rarely ever need pesticides or herbicides, because with flower/veggie combos, pollinators and beneficial insects are greatly increased. And soil will only become richer.
I believe first I should decide which vegetables I really want to plant. For me it will be easier to simply add the vegetables to the ornamental gardens that already exist. It's important to understand each plant's requirements and once we find ornamentals and vegetables that require the same amount of sun, type of soil, and water amounts, then we'll need to check things like height and space so we'll know where best to locate them within the garden. Charts that will match vegetables with ornamental are easily found by Googling 'Companion Planting'.
This plan might not be for everyone; it all depends on individual needs, preferences and abilities. And it doesn't have to be planted inground. Large pots work just as well. But it's time for me to give some thought to companion planting as opposed to beans and peppers and tomatoes all in their own straight rows, with herbs and flowers in gardens of their own. I want to create my own little microclimates that will increase a healthy yield with less effort from me.
I believe the plants will help each other and take care of themselves. And I believe I won't have to depend so much on herbicides and pesticides and additional nutrients in my soil. I also believe I won't have to work so hard.
So that's my plan; took me a long, long time to put it to work. I can hear Ninna right now: "Ain't never too late for tryin', chile, ain't never too late." And Aunt Bett would say: "Jus' don't forgit 'bout that corn, littl'un, you cain't plant jus' one seed if you plan on gatherin' any roasin' ears." That's about as close as she ever got to telling me about the birds and the bees.
I reckon I won't tell her that I won't be plantin' any corn at all.
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|Wonderful! by chelle||Jan 16, 2013 2:14 PM||68|