Category Archives: Gardening Basics

Five Seed Starting Tips…

Tomato Seedlings

Tomato Seedlings

Here are five tips for seed starting…

1. Use a moist matchstick to plant your seeds. Pour your seeds into a flat container. The moistened stick will pick up one seed at a time and you can easily drop your seed into the hole.

2. Make your own seed tape using paper towels strips and cornstarch moistened with water for glue. Dot the cornstarch mixture onto the paper towel and drop in your seed (using your moistened matchstick). Let dry and roll up. Store in plastic bags until ready to plant. Seed tape eliminates seed waste and gives you super tidy rows!

3. Use only fresh seed for shallots, leeks, onions and parsnips. Seeds for these veggies last only one year.

4. Some seeds last several years. If you are unsure if your seed is still good, give it a test. Moisten a paper towel, sprinkle on 10 seeds and roll it up. Store in a plastic bag for a few days. Check the seed to see if any germinated. If so, you have a good idea of your germination rate. For instance, if five of ten seeds germinate, then you can count on a 50% germination rate for your old seeds.

5. New seedlings need air circulation. The air moves their stems slightly which makes them stronger. Keep a low fan going in the room where you are growing the seedlings. In addition, you can help your plants by “petting” them once or twice a day by gently running your palms over the tops of the plants so them move back and forth a bit. Also, keep rotating your trays so they keep leaning in different directions towards the sun or light source.

FOR YOUR REFERENCE: We handed out a flyer on Seed Starting that one of our gardeners, Steve Abbott, made up a couple of years back. We also included a flyer on local Planting Dates made up by Beth McQuinn.

 

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Edible Perennials

The Mission of the Capital City Organic Gardeners is to collectively share, learn and teach organic vegetable gardening methods to each other. For our May meeting, CCOG gardeners shared their tips for growing perennial edibles. We talked about dandelions, asparagus and rhubarb for this meeting. There are so many edible perennials that gardeners can grow. We only touched on a few and filled the hour!

DANDELIONS

Starting out with some yummy treats, Mary brought in some delicious Dandelion Cheese Squares to share with the group. Thinking about dandelions as a vegetable and not a weed takes a shift in thinking but the truth is that European settlers brought dandelion seeds to America for food and medicine. The health benefits from eating dandelions are astounding. As one of the first greens that appear in the spring, it would benefit all of us to learn more about it’s healthful properties and work to incorporate dandelions into our diet. Caution! When gathering dandelion greens, make sure you harvest young greens from areas that have not been treated with lawn chemicals. Check out The Health Benefits of Dandelions by Aparup Mukherjee. For advice on cooking dandelions along with some other wild greens, download this article, Facts on Edible Wild Greens in Maine.

ASPARAGUS

Karen did some research on asparagus to share with the group. Asparagus needs sandy, slightly acidic, well-drained soil and should be planted around 8″deep. They enjoy 6 to 8 hours of sun a day. Make sure the rows are 2′ apart. Dig a 8″ deep trench and plant the crowns 12-15″ apart. Cover with 2″of soil. As plants begin to grow, keep adding soil 2″ at a time until it is mounded up into a hill.

When choosing asparagus to plant, consider choosing Jersey Male Hybrids. They are the most prolific.

The first and second year that the asparagus comes up, do not harvest. Let the stalks grow into ferns, then cut the ferns back late in the fall after a hard frost. The ferns provide energy to the plant. You can tie up the ferns with stakes and twine so they don’t flop over and stay neat.

The third year you can start to harvest. Cut the asparagus when it is 8″ to 12″ tall. Cut for the first 10 days to 2 weeks, then let the asparagus go to ferns. Each year, you can cut more asparagus for a longer period of time as the plant becomes more robust.

Establishing an asparagus bed takes time and patience. However, once it is established you can harvest this spring vegetable for up to 20 years! What a treat!

RHUBARB

Claudia shared her experiences with growing rhubarb. This tart plant originated in China. Once you establish a patch of rhubarb, you have it for life!

To plant, dig a nice big hole, add in a little manure, then plant it and let it go. Rhubarb can tolerate some shade but not too much. The first year, don’t harvest the stalks. The second year, pull a few for a pie or two. To harvest, pull and twist out the stalks. After that, you can harvest almost as much as you like. Pull stalks that are about the size of your thumb for the best flavor. Be sure to leave at least a third of the plant at the end of the season. Always cut down the flower stalk when it begins to appear.

A final word of caution! Never eat rhubarb leaves. They are poisonous. Just cut off the leaves and throw them in your compost. Use the stalks for cooking.

Check our the article that Claudia wrote for the Concord Insider entitled, “Rhubarb-a neighborly plant perfect for pies” .

We all enjoyed our meeting sharing our knowledge with our fellow gardeners. So many fruits, vegetables and grow as perennials! You can pack an entire garden with edible perennials and enjoy eating from your garden with very little labor. For a complete list, download this handout. Please note: Not all of the plants are appropriate for New England, so do some more research before planting.
Perennial List-Fruits-Veggies

Photo Sources:
Dandelion Photo: Wikimedia Commons by Arcanewizard
Asparagus Photo: Wikimedia Commons by Muffet
Rhubarb Photo: Wikimedia Commons by Mwri

Starting Seeds with Donna Miller

We had a terrific turnout for our first meeting of 2012!

Donna Miller was our speaker for the night. Donna is a Master Gardener from Canterbury. Over the past 10 years, she and her husband, Jim, have converted their yard into beautiful theme gardens including children’s, butterfly, heritage, fairy and Halloween gardens. Two years ago they opened Petals in the Pines to the public.

Donna started out the talk with a question. Why start your own seeds?

The answer is that you can grow a huge variety of vegetables  by starting your own seeds. If you only buy your plants from a local nursery, your selection of seedlings is very limited. It’s fun to experiment with different and unusual varieties of plants.

When starting seeds, the first thing you need to do is READ YOUR SEED PACKET! The seed packet normally has all of the information you need for planting.

Follow the directions on your seed packet!

Our area has a 120 day growing season that starts around Memorial Day. Your seedlings should be ready to plant in the ground by then. If you read the back of your seed packet, that should give you all of the information you need about when it is time to start your seeds indoors. For example, if your seed packet says that transplants can be started 6-8 weeks before planting date, then you should start your seeds early to mid-April for planting on Memorial Day.

To start your seeds indoors, all you need are containers with drainage holes, seed starting mixture, water and light.

Containers: You can use any container you like. Many people reuse the containers they get from the garden store. Just make sure that they are scrubbed perfectly clean with soap and hot water. You don’t want to transfer any plant diseases to your sensitive seedlings. You can also use containers you have around the house like food containers. Just make sure to poke drainage holes in the bottom.

Soil: Use a fine, uniform, well aerated, loose soil especially formulated for seedlings. Promix is a good medium to use. Fill your containers with the soil to the top and water the soil. The soil will absorb the water and settle down into the planting container a bit.

Planting: Follow the planting depth recommended on the seed packet. Lightly firm the soil over the seed but do not pack down.Water lightly.

Some seeds benefit from a technique called scarification or stratification. This involves nicking the seed with a sharp knife and then soaking the seeds overnight before planting them. This helps them to germinate faster. Your seed packet will tell you if you need to do this technique.

Label: Make sure to put a label in your containers. Seedlings look remarkably alike when they are small!

Water: Keep planting mixture moist, but not waterlogged.

Heat and Light: Seeds and seedlings need a well lit, controlled environment. between 50-70 degrees.

Transplanting: Once your seeds sprout and have two small leaves, they will be ready to transplant into a larger container. Water the seedlings well, then  loosen the soil around the seedling and its roots with a stick. Lots of gardeners use chopsticks as a tool for this task.  Transfer the seedling to a larger container by gently holding it by one of its leaves. Do not hold it by its stem, it is too delicate. Ease it into the new planting hole and gently tamp down the soil around the seedling. Water and keep out of the sun for 24 hours to recover.

Label Again!!: Make sure to put a label in every container. You think you might remember what a particular vegetable looks like but you can be surprised. Zucchini seedlings look like summer squash which looks like butternut squash which looks like pumpkins which looks like melons. Take the time to label!

Care of seedlings while they grow: Rotate the trays each day so that they are not always leaning one way towards the sun. Fertilize with a diluted fish emulsion once a week. (Follow directions on the container for fertilizing seedlings.)

Getting ready to plant outdoors: Seedlings need to be hardened off before you plant them outside. The process of hardening them off lessens the shock they sustain when they move outside. To harden off your seedlings, put them outside in a protected, shady spot on a mild day. Leave them out for a couple of hours then bring them inside. Over the next few days,  increase the amount of time they are outside and increase the amount of direct sun they receive until they are out 24 hours a day. Keep watering and fertilizing them well.

Transplanting Outdoors: When the plants are hardened off, they can be planted outside. It’s best to plant on a cloudy day at the end of the day. This lessens the shock that the plants receive when transplanting. Gently remove them out of their containers into their planting hole. Tamp down the soil and water well. Make sure to transfer your marker so you will remember what you planted.

Ta Da! You are done!

For more information about starting seeds and caring for seedlings, there is a wealth of information on the UNH Cooperative Extention website. Here are a few resources you can download and print for reference…
Starting Plants Indoors From Seed
Timing Vegetable Transplants
Planting and Maturity Dates of Vegetables in NH

The Thrill of Victory (and the Agony of Defeat)

We had a good turnout for our October meeting and harvest dinner. We had a ton of delicious food. Stayed tuned for recipes in future posts!

Our Harvest Potluck

At our meeting, we discussed our successes and failures in the garden this season. It was a time for bragging (a little bit) and a time to get some suggestions for avoiding problems next year.

Laura showing off her flint corn.

Laura started off by showing off the beautiful flint corn that her husband, Scott, grew in their community garden. This was the third year Scott grew flint corn for making cornmeal and it was the best year yet. The seed was Organic Garland Flint Corn Seed sourced from Butterworks Farm. 

Terry and Reggie had good success with greens in their garden this year but the peas and the radishes did not do well. They had lots of foliage but did not form vegetables. It was suggested that they might have too much nitrogen in their garden which is why the plants produced a lot of leaves. A soil test would be a good idea for next year.

Karen is an avid weeder and likes a nice, clean garden. This year, she was careful to mow around the edges of her community garden and that helped cut down considerably on her weed issues. She had problems with her brussel sprouts. They did not form many buds and then the buds were not tight. It was suggested that she top off the plant once it grows to a nice size and that will force the plant to concentrate it’s energy in forming buds and not growing taller.

Eve and Mike did very well with garlic this year. Steve agreed that it was a good year for his garlic as well! Eve and Mike’s challenge this year that they were  harvesting carrots that seemed healthy had many “fingers” attached. The advice given was that their soil might be too rich which encourages excessive growth. Not enriching the soil and planting the carrots in the same place next year might take care of the problem. In addition, Mike HATES to thin carrots and carefully transplants seedlings evenly spaced into the garden. Karen suggested that he get coated seeds so that he can easily see them and just plant the seeds a normal distance apart rather than going through the trouble of transplanting. Mike was thrilled!

The group helped troubleshoot problems.

John shared his experiments using his Brix Refractometer which tests the sugar content of fruits and vegetables. Healthier, more nutritious foods often have a higher Brix reading. John shared his discovery of a beautiful pear tree he found by the Merrimack Courthouse that was loaded with fruit. Jonathan already had gleaned some of those delicious pears!

Steve had a huge harvest of garlic this year, but it was a bad year for tomatoes. Next year, he is rotating his crops again and using copper sulfide as a preventative measure. Copper Sulfide is an organic treatment for many plant diseases.

Jonathan didn’t garden much this year but his Bhutanese tenants did garden in his backyard. Hurricane Irene blew down a big maple in his yard and although he is sad for the tree, he is happy he will have  a lot more sun in the yard and plans to expand his garden next year.

Claudia had cutworm trouble but just kept on replanting, and replanting, and replanting until the cutworms gave up! Her big victory this year is that her fig trees produced luscious figs this year. She had so many, she had to freeze some.

Jeff had a “Fair Season” and was especially happy with his Purple Royalty Beans which grew in a relatively shady part of his garden. His Calendula did very nicely and he had great kale.

John had a good year for weeds! He stopped weeding about July 4th and then the garden got away from him. In spite of it all, he was still able to harvest a good amount of produce. Judy shared that she puts landscape cloth down in her paths and lots of straw mulched on her beds and this was the first year she didn’t have to fight the weeds in her garden.

Judy said that ” I harvested advice from CCOG!”. Her big success this year was her crop of gourds. She grew about 20 gourds and looks forward to creating vessels with her treasures.

Peg and Nicki had a banner year for butternut squash and cucumbers. They kept a few for themselves and donated the rest to the Friendly Kitchen. They were amazed by how much they had to offer!

Marie had a great year for tomatoes. She roasts them with garlic and basil at 425 degrees for about and hour and a half. Then she freezes them and uses them all winter long. Delicious!

Mary had success with watermelon (YES! WATERMELON!). We all drew close while she shared her secret. She laid out black plastic, put holes in it and planted her seedlings. The watermelon loved the heat that the plastic attracted. One Moon and Stars was as large as 38 pounds. In New Hampshire! We were all in awe.

Mary shows us the size of her watermelons. 🙂

We all had a great time and learned a lot. It’s amazing how much we can help each other. What  a great community of gardeners!

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Join us for our Annual Meeting on Wednesday, November 2nd. We will have elections and brainstorm for next year. Details are available on the Calendar page.

Tomato Wisdom

Yummy Sun Gold Tomatoes

The Mission of the Capital City Organic Gardeners is to collectively share, learn and teach organic vegetable gardening methods to each other. That is what we did at our last meeting. We took some time to share our ‘Tomato Wisdom” and here is what we learned…

Favorite Varieties of Tomatoes:
Juliet is Laura’s favorite tomato. It is a small oval shaped tomato like a paste tomato, but not fleshy. It cooks down well into sauces, tastes good sliced up and dries well in the dehydrator. It is a great tomato for roasting in the oven. The plants are very prolific and bear tons of fruit throughout the season.
• Claudia loves her Garden Peach tomato. It is a small, yellow tomato that has a velvety skin much like a peach! It is a low-acid paste tomato that is blight resistant . The best thing about the Garden Peach is it’s beauty, it’s simply gorgeous! Claudia also made a pitch for the heirloom, Cherokee Purple because of it’s beautiful purple color and great, rich taste.
• Steve enjoys his German Johnson heirloom tomatoes because they rarely split before you are ready to pick them.
• Nikki claims that Brandywine heirlooms are scrumptious and her personal favorite.
•Everyone agreed that no cherry tomato tops Sun Gold. Sungold tomatoes were developed at UNH at the Kingman Farm. Claudia dries her Sun Golds by simply cutting them in half and putting them in the dehydrator. They dry down to wafer-thin disks that are crunchy and taste like tomato candy. Simply amazing!

Planting Tomatoes:
• Nikki plants her tomatoes very deep. She digs down about 1 1/2′ and puts a quart of composted manure at the bottom of the hole. She takes off side leaves and plants the tomato as deep as she can leaving a few leaves above ground. The tomato will make roots all along its buried stem.
• Steve takes some chicken wire or hardware cloth and makes a circular cage. He puts rotted horse manure in the cage and then plants tomato plants around the perimeter of the cage. He waters the manure and the water washes down through the manure to water the tomatoes and fertilize them at the same time.

Tomato Diseases:
Unfortunately, there are so many tomato diseases that it was hard to pinpoint any one treatment for a particular disease. However, we did come up with a strategy for combating diseases. First, at the first sign of any sort of disease on the plant, cut off the bad parts and throw the diseased parts away (do NOT compost). If you think you have blight, then spray the plants with a copper fungicide. If the tomatoes  seem to be rotting before ripening, then pick them at the first hint of red. They will ripen up on their own. Next year, plant your tomatoes in a new spot. That helps lessen diseases from being spread year to year.

-Here is a link to identify Tomato diseases: Vegetable MD On-Line
-Here is a link for common tomato problems and some solutions: www.colostate.edu
-Here is a link for planting tomatoes: Organic Gardening Magazine

Dealing with excess tomatoes:
– Lorna doesn’t have much time to process her tomatoes during the summer so she simply throws them whole into big plastic bags and puts them in the freezer. Then, in the cooler weather, she just pulls out the tomatoes and let’s them defrost a bit. The skins slip right off and she can make a sauce or throw them into soups and stews. Easy!
• Laura shared a recipe for Crockpot Tomato Sauce which is easy to make and uses up a lot of tomatoes all at once. The Crockpot does not heat up the kitchen and the sauce freezes well. Here it is…

Crockpot Tomato Sauce for the freezer
An easy way to process a ton of tomatoes without heating up your kitchen or slaving over the stove all day!
1. Saute one onion and two or three garlic cloves until soft. Put into the crockpot.
2. Deglaze pan with about a half a cup of water and add to crockpot.
3. Cut tomatoes in half. Squeeze out seeds. No need to peel. Throw into crockpot until crockpot is full or you have run out of tomatoes.
4. Optional: Add in diced carrots. Two or three.
5. Cook all day. Puree sauce with a stick blender or regular blender. Add salt and pepper to taste. If you like a sweeter sauce, add in a touch of brown sugar.
6. Freeze. This is a good basic tomato sauce to use as a base for your winter recipes.

So there you have it! Lot’s of “Tomato Wisdom” shared with the group. Collectively, we all learned something new!

DIY Gardening Tips From The Capital City Organic Gardeners

Our meeting in June was chock full of unique tips from the Capital City Organic Gardeners. Instead of having a speaker come and talk on one topic, CCOG gardeners shared their favorite gardening tips with the group.  This is what creating community is all about, we all learn from each other and come away  richer from our experience. So, without further ado, here is what we learned!

Pea Fence/Trellis and Wattle Fence

Joining the conduit at the corners.

Sturdy Pea Fence/Trellis

Eleanor had problems in the past with her delicate pea fences being blown over in the wind, so she decided to build a sturdy pea fence that was inexpensive and easy to disassemble at the end of the season. For about $10 she was able to buy the following materials: Two short lengths of Rebar (2′ by 1/2″), 1/2″ electrical conduit (store will cut pipe to size), two 1/2″ conduit corner connectors, and string. She simply hammered the rebar into the ground about a foot leaving a foot above the ground. Then, she placed the conduit over the rebar, joined the top bar with the conduit corners and then wove the string to make a trellis. This trellis design will NOT blow down in the wind, is easy to move and is sturdy enough for all sorts of vegetables.

Wattle Fence

Eleanor also designed a beautiful wattle fence to separate her yard from her neighbor’s driveway. It is about 2′ high and the only materials she purchased were 3′ the stakes she hammered about 1′ into the ground. She then wove green branches she cut from trimming shrubs around her yard. In the end, she had to get branches from friends to finish the fence, but the end result is inexpensive, lovely and should last for several years.

Pea Fence/Trellis and No Till Garden Beds

Judy's raised beds early in the season.

Judy took the  No Till  Gardening lecture that Dot Perkins gave last year to heart and redid all of her vegetable beds out at the community garden. She dug out the paths and used tha soil to make the raised beds. She uses straw in the aisles and landscape fabric in the paths to cut down on the weeds. No Till gardening is also know as Lasagna Gardening. This method gave Judy a great start on the season.

Another sturdy trellis design.

Judy also constructed a very study pea trellis as well. She designed her trellis as a box structure so that it won’t topple in the wind. Like Eleanor’s trellis, it is also easy to take apart at the end of the season. Removable pegs at the top hold it together.

No Till Garden Beds and Grassy Path Permaculture

Scott's long rows between grassy paths.

Scott also showed off his No Till garden beds. His method used only three layers. First, he dug out the paths and made the raised beds. Next,  he covered the beds with corragated cardboard or six layers of newspaper. Then he added about 3″ of chopped up leaves and topped it off with 6-8″ of grass clippings. The end result was hardly any weeds coming through in the spring, which is a HUGE accomplishment in the community garden where weeds run rampant. To plant, he simply teases back the top layers until he hits soil and then plants his seeds or seedlings. He planted grass and clover in the paths and when he mows, he catches the clippings and puts them back on top of the garden beds. This is a great example of using permaculture methods for gardening. Nothing goes to waste.

Pulling the top layers away for planting.

CCOG Inventor!

John shared with us an invention he is working on to measure conductivity in the soil. Good electrical conductivity indicates good soil conditions for healthier plants, bad conductivity indicates poor soil quality. It was exciting to see his work in progress and discuss its potential for helping farmers and gardeners determine their soil needs in and instant.

Rabbits: Not only super cute but helpful in the garden as well!

Waffle the Rabbit

Claudia brought her rabbits, Waffle and Nudge. (Unfortunately, Nudge would not stay still for a photo op, so Waffle is the star of this post! ) Rabbits make great pets but, contrary to their reputation,  they are also very helpful in the garden. Their manure is a fantastic fertilizer. One rabbit can produce enough fertilizer for 500 square feet of garden. Rabbit manure is a “cold” manure and will not burn your plants if you put it directly in the garden. It’s pellets are more like slow time-release fertilizer. Opinions are mixed as to whether you should let rabbit manure compost first before putting it in the garden. If you are uncertain, then compost the manure first before spreading it in your vegetable beds. Here is a link to more information about rabbit manure in the garden.

Voles are NOT our friends!

You need a box and a mousetrap.

Mary, our resident vole-catcher, shared her simple design for catching those nasty voles that love to chew on your potatoes (and just about everything else!). Lacking a reliable cat, Mary had to come up with something ingenious for her vegetable garden.  Here is her surprisingly simple solution:

Get a box and cut little doors on all four sides. Next, get a simple mousetrap. Put the mousetrap inside of the box, no need for bait. Put it in your garden (your potato patch might be a good place). Place a rock on top so it won’t blow away and check daily. Voles are curious creatures and love to get into small little spaces. They explore the mousetrap and, unfortunately, meet their maker. If you are squeemish about killing the vole, then you could try a Have a Heart trap, but just don’t release them anywhere near our gardens!

Speaking of Pest Management…

Laura does have a reliable cat that takes care of the voles, but her issue is what to do with the cat? Her cat loves to languish in the garden, especially on a newly seeded bed. The soil is so soft and nicely raked, what cat can resist such a pleasure? Laura has devised several methods that work well to deter the cat.

Tomato Cages and Branches over and around hills of squash seeds.

First, she had collected tomato cages over the years and had her husband clip them apart  into short cages or simply rings with little legs attached. She places these over the seeded areas and leaves them there until the plants have grown large. At that point, the cat does not damage the plants. Also, for added protection, she often clips small dryed out branches from her hemlock trees and sticks them in the bed as well. The cat doesn’t like the scratchy branches.

Hardware cloth cage deterd cat, eggshells deter slugs, Remay protects from sun.

Another method she uses is to create an actual cage out of hardware cloth to place over the seeded beds. In this photo you can see that she made a small cage to place over her lettuce seeds. She has also sprinkled a layer of crushed eggshells over the seeds to help deter slugs. Slugs don’t like the sharp edges. The cage method also is nice because she can attach a small square of Remay fabric over the top to create a little bit of shade for the tender lettuce seeds.

So there you have it! In one meeting we learned about how to make inexpensive trellises and create wattle fences. We saw the result of two member’s experiences with No Till gardening. We were able to oogle over two adorable rabbits and learn how they can help us in the garden. Vole catching adventures were shared and appreciated. An amazing invention for testing soil was demonstrated. We also learned how to deter lazy cats from messing up your freshly seeded beds in addition to learning a new method for deterring slimy slugs. Not bad for one evening’s presentation! CCOG gardeners turn out to be the greatest resource for the garden!

Here is a Power Point presentation from our meeting. CCOG Mtg June 2011

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.