May 2011 Meeting Summary: Companion Planting

Hope Hutchinson, Master Gardener Presents on Companion Planting
by guest blogger, Eleanor Baron

More than 25 gardeners gathered on a cold, rainy May evening to learn about companion planting, share ideas and talk about the rain over a delicious potluck dinner.

Hope Hutchinson, Master Gardener, presented a program usually presented by Coop Extension Specialist Dot Perkins, interweaving her own garden experiences with Dot’s inspiring slides.

The children decorated and planted their containers with a variety of lovely herbs.

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Companion planting can be done in simple window boxes, container gardens, roof gardens—you’re practicing companion planting any time you plant plants that complement one another. Raised beds are good examples of companion planting. Especially in raised beds and containers, beware of over-planting and ending up with plants competing for space.

Hope shared a few combinations for success.
• Marigolds, planted with almost anything, are good for repelling insects.
• Basil planted around tomatoes works as a natural insect repellent as well.
• Carrots work well under-planted by onions, because carrots are deeper.
• Asparagus, with its deep roots, and strawberries, with shallow roots, do well together.  They also like the same acidic pH
• Onions, carrots, radishes and beets work well together.
• Strawberries, spinach, chives and nasturtium all complement one another.
• Eggplant, spinach and marigolds are great combinations.
• Squash grows well with beans.
• Spinach grows well under corn.
• Basil complements tomatoes.
• Grow nitrogen-feeding sunflowers with nitrogen-fixing beans and both will be happy.

Remember, “Not just above, but below.” Plant shallow-rooted plants with deep-rooted or spread-rooted plants. Also think about interspersing shorter plants with taller plants, like broccoli with tomatoes. It’s possible to space plants too widely, keeping them from benefiting each other at all. Fill in the spaces. Every inch of the garden can be covered with something. Even hanging containers can be used to hold herbs and other things.

Fruit trees can be planted with companions also. For example, planting strawberries, chard or kale under fruit trees will provide the benefit of a little cool shade in the heat of summer. Likewise, a pea trellis can provide shade to cole crops or lettuces.

Two key points to remember:
1. pH has to be proper. (Cooperative Extension tests are most reliable.)
2. Root systems have to be balanced. Plants with shallow root systems can be interplanted with plants that have deep root systems.

Recommended Resources
www.theveggieclinic.com
(A great organic website by Dave O’Connor in Barrington, NH)
• Book: Roses Love Garlic
• Book: Carrots Love Tomatoes

Thanks, Hope, for a great presentation. Now, on to gardening and sunnier days! Ann Harrison won the raffle: an assortment of herbal skincare products made by Eleanor Baron.

Hope brought in her baby ducklings. Super cute!

The ducklings were a huge it with everybody!

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UPCOMING CCOG PROGRAMS

Next CCOG Meeting:
Do It Yourself Solutions to Garden Problems
June 15, 2011
Bring your ideas and homemade solutions, be prepared to share anything and everything for a couple of minutes. We have the knowledge, so let’s share! Pick anything, little or big, and share. 20 seconds to 5 minutes! If you have photos to share, send them to Scott Morrison at ccognh@gmail.com ahead of time and he’ll create a PowerPoint.

Tour of Sycamore Gardens and Picnic
July 20

August: TBA
August 17

September: TBA
September 21

The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat
October 19
Share your great stories from the season—good and bad. Let’s have fun sharing the interesting things that happened in our gardens this season. Start planning now and take pictures! We may even have prizes.

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