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rainbowgardener
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Re: Companion Planting Guide

That wasn't addressed to you, but it was about this statement:

Garden veggies grow best when given their own space and enough space

which you might also subscribe to.

You are a terrific gardener James, and produce amazing results in your short season. I respect what you do and have learned from you. But I also see you moving a little more towards organic methods over the years you have been hanging out here, so maybe you are learning a little bit from us too. :)

What you do clearly works for you. AND what I do works for me. I just posted in a different thread about getting one 10 x 5 bed planted, with a lengthwise rows of carrots, garlic, spinach, broccoli/cabbage, plus 3 tomato plants and 2 pepper plants, 3 parsley plants, some onions and some flowers. And since then I've been organizing things and seeing how much basil I have, I may try to shoehorn in a couple basil plants as well. When the spinach is done, beans will go in and when the broccoli/ cabbage is done, maybe a squash will go in. And I may throw in some marigolds and nasturtiums.

That's a ton of stuff in one little bed, pretty much all jumbled together. And it all works for me and does amazingly well. I plant with compost and mulch and may add some compost mid season and/or some compost tea. Otherwise I don't fertilize, I don't spray with anything and I have very little trouble with pests or diseases other than squash borers and squash bugs. I think my crowded jumbled little bed produces an amazing amount of food over a long season (I've already been eating the over-wintered spinach for a good while and once the warm weather stuff is done, it will get planted back in onions, garlic, spinach and broccoli to over winter) and it does it with very little effort or problems, compared to a lot of people who write in here with all the troubles they are having.

So that and a big body of literature on companion planting is why I objected to the blanket statement that veggies need to be all separated with plenty of space around them.
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jal_ut
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Re: Companion Planting Guide

What you do clearly works for you. AND what I do works for me. I just posted in a different thread about getting one 10 x 5 bed planted, with a lengthwise rows of carrots, garlic, spinach, broccoli/cabbage, plus 3 tomato plants and 2 pepper plants, 3 parsley plants, some onions and some flowers. And since then I've been organizing things and seeing how much basil I have, I may try to shoehorn in a couple basil plants as well. When the spinach is done, beans will go in and when the broccoli/ cabbage is done, maybe a squash will go in. And I may throw in some marigolds and nasturtiums.
Here is my wager: I will bet that if you were to plant that much stuff in a space 10 feet by 20 feet, IOW four times as much space, that your plants would all do much better.

It is very obvious that all those plants in such a small space are indeed in heavy competition for sunlight and root space. Perhaps we don't understand how crowded the roots are because we can't see them? Take a look at this paper:

https://www.soilandhealth.org/01aglibrar ... 37toc.html
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Re: Companion Planting Guide

Apologies, my bad. I removed a bunch of posts by a member who was copying and pasting, all in one pass. So that removed the full and true context for rainbow's post. Sorry about that. :eek:

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Re: Companion Planting Guide

I can't argue that, because I don't have more space, so I can't do the experiment. My veggie garden is that bed and four others, plus a bunch of flower beds that veggies and herbs are starting to sneak in to :) . But it is a little hard for me to imagine. Last year, the one 10 foot row of spinach gave all the spinach two of us could eat (eating spinach in salads, omelets etc several times a week) plus some to freeze for several months. Two tomato plants gave hundreds of full sized tomatoes. The beans did get kind of crowded out and did not do real well, but the pepper plants did great. I had enough garlic to eat for months and still have some for seed - this year my garlic was started from my own home grown garlic for the first time. The squash I put in there last year did not make it, but as noted I always have trouble with the vine borers, I don't think that's a function of crowding. But leaving out the squash and beans, everything I had in that bed last year was healthy and thriving and very productive.

Too early to say about this year, except the spinach doesn't seem like it will last as long. Cold spring meant it was slower to get going and then quick warm up, it is trying to bolt already.

This bed is only raised about 8", but it is a spot where a tree used to be. I burned the tree and roots out, which left a lot of hole to fill, so it is soft loose soil a long way down. It is my most productive bed, because the ones in the backyard are too shady, don't get enough sun. So they do ok, but not as great.

My lot is 1/3 acre, but the back half of it is a steep wooded hillside, useless for growing much food (though I am working on putting in some nut trees, etc). The remainder has house, deck, patio, and lots of flowers, a bit of lawn, a gigantic old lilac tree. And yet I grow a whole bunch of food, including a ton of herbs in containers on the deck, and outside the veggie beds, raspberries, asparagus, strawberries, rhubarb. Two of my veggie beds sit on top of the concrete patio to make use of that space.

I am working on using as much as possible everything my "land" produces, so I am making jelly from the lilac blossoms (and last year I made chrysanthemum flower jelly), using the black walnuts from the big old tree, eating the edible weeds, etc. The more I do that the more amazed I am at the bounty of my little city lot.

So I got a little off the track, but I think you get my point.
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Re: Companion Planting Guide

I feel the way people garden depends a number of factors, space being one of them. Some very creative gardening comes from getting the most out of small spaces.
most people do not use farm tractors to garden with like we do, I feel lucky to live where I do.
To me it is way cool to see people growing in the city.

Oh my! I just looked out the window and just a few feet from my house are three deers eating my lawn; one reason I put no poison on the lawn.
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Re: Companion Planting Guide

Tom I am one of those that get's creative and does well in a smaller area. It is not easy. But what James said is very true. With more space I could do better. I squeeze everything together as tight as possible within reason. The plants really need there space, there is enough competition going on already within the soil to be fighting another plant.

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Re: Companion Planting Guide

If I had the space, I would do the experiment, to have a little more evidence. But I honestly believe that my plants benefit from the diverse plantings.

IMHO, if you plant 6 tomatoes in a space where 3 should be, you don't do them any favors and they do compete with each other and suffer. But if you plant 3 tomatoes in that space, plus a row of carrots and some garlic/onions, a pepper or two, some marigolds and/or nasturtiums, some basil, some lettuce or spinach (that will be done before the tomatoes are very far along), not only do you get a lot more food from the space, but everything benefits and you have less problems with with pests and disease.

Perhaps those of you with land could do the experiment. Plant most the way you usually do, but save out one little patch to be densely interplanted as above and see what you think of the results.
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Re: Companion Planting Guide

planting things like marigolds help keep the bugs at bay.
The things I do are an evolution and I am always learning. My way is not the only way of doing things, and I may and will change the way I do things as I learn better ways. So any advice that I give is in that spirit.

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Re: Companion Planting Guide

This link was posted somewhere on our forum before, but this may be a good place for it too:

Weeds -- Guardians of the Soil
by Joseph A. Cocannouer
:arrow: https://journeytoforever.org/farm_librar ... dsToC.html
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Re: Companion Planting Guide

If nothing else the flowering plants that attract beneficial insects is worth the cost of admission by itself.
By all means plant flowers for the bees. Alfalfa and clover are especially good. They are also good to produce nitrogen for your soil.

The bees in this country are in trouble and lack of food plants (flowers) is one of the reasons they are losing the game.

Do any of you keep bees? It is an interesting sideline for avid gardeners. Worth looking into.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Companion Planting Guide

Since this thread has come back, I am getting more convinced all the time of the value of interplanting with flowers and herbs. Not only do the herbs ward off a lot of bad bugs, but the nectar bearing flowers, including the clover, and flowers of things in the carrot family (carrot, dill, fennel, parsley, Queen Anne's lace), yarrow, and others that have their nectar in tiny florets, attract many beneficial insects, like lady bugs, lacewings, and a range of parasitic wasps. I have parsley in the bed with my tomatoes and one of them was last year's, meaning it flowered this year. So, I probably had a worse year than usual for tomato hornworms in that bed (maybe because it is the third year tomatoes have been in the same place?). However, EVERY hornworm I saw, had already been parasitized by the braconid wasps.

So, I agree that it doesn't help to crowd the same kind of thing together, like the 6 tomato plants where 3 should be, I mentioned above. The closer you plant the same thing, the harder you have to work at soil fertility and the more likely you are to get pests and diseases. But the companion planting idea isn't about crowding, it is about mixing. And I do believe that is very valuable, makes better use of the space and is beneficial to all the plants.

I do understand that it is labor intensive and would be difficult to do if you are planting large spaces with a tractor. But for that kind of gardening/ farming, I still think it would help to plant plots with borders of flowers and herbs and maybe a flower/herb row every third or fourth crop row down the middle of plots.
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Re: Companion Planting Guide

I still think it would help to plant plots with borders of flowers and herbs and maybe a flower/herb row every third or fourth crop row down the middle of plots.
I agree. The flowers encourage pollinators to our gardens. Some of our plants need the pollinators to make fruit. I have been planting a few large carrots and onions around the garden, which bloom and the various bees love them.

Image

Image

Another benefit, you can also collect the seed.
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Re: Companion Planting Guide

Hey, how about that, we are on the same page, James! :) I agree, I collected a ton of seed from my one flowering parsley plant that attracted all the beneficials for me. And some of it I just let drop, so maybe some parsley will come back in that spot on its own. And at least one of the this year's parsley plants that are there now, I will leave so it will flower next year.

So actually you wouldn't need to have tons and tons of the flowers and herbs, because 1 plant goes a long way. But a variety of different ones and not all in some other field 50 feet away.
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Re: Companion Planting Guide

Perhaps we don't understand how crowded the roots are because we can't see them? Take a look at this paper:

https://www.soilandhealth.org/01aglibrar ... 37toc.html
This is flipping awesome - thank you for sharing...!

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Re: Companion Planting Guide

Since we are talking about bringing bennificials into the garden if it's bees you are after I find Basil is the king. I always throw in various plants for companion planting as well as letting most things go to flower to bring in the good guy's, but the basil is always chock full of bees.

I always throw them in with tomatoes. I can't count how many times i have been on my knees picking some tomatoes to look up to a face full of bees. It's all good though we have a thing going here that works out for both of us.

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Re: Companion Planting Guide

I heard that (but cannot find the source right now) basil improving taste of tomatoes seems debatable, as well as perhaps some of its disease and pest fighting, however same source said planted together it was shown to increase yield of tomatoes by 20%! so... still a good thing, even if this other (mysterious unnamed, lol) source debates the old touted pluses to this couple.

anyhow, thanks for this list.
I have been making lists of companion plants already, always good to have more resources.
I think this and native plants are lacking for my gardening (but then so is space, so only so much one can do with a few square feet of garden space and hopes for a few rented small comm garden plots if one has the cash to rent them).

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Re: Companion Planting Guide

Here's a nice article about companion planting with tomatoes, which cites studies and discusses the mechanisms of how the companion makes a difference:

https://www.laspilitas.com/garden/conven ... plants.com

about the basil it says

Basil, Ocimum basilicum, an annual in the mint family, is pollinated by bees and flies (Raju, 1989), (Kuberappa et al., 2007), and supports arbuscular mycorrhiza (Wang & Qiu, 2006). Ocimum species are native to the Americas and Asia. Studies found that when basil was grown with tomato, the tomato plants were more vigorous, the tomato fruits were larger, and the tomato showed less damage by Fusarium wilt (Hage-Ahmed, Krammer and Steinkellner, 2013). ... This is important because arbuscular mycorrhiza helps to increase pollinator visits, they believe by way of higher nectar production, and also helps to increase yield of pollen (Gange & Smith, 2005).

The same mycorrhiza with the same benefits were noted for alliums planted with tomatoes.

The article also notes parsley as a good companion:

Parsley, Petroselinum crispum var. neopolitanum, usually a biennial, is pollinated by syrphid flies, honeybees, and other bees (Burgett, 1980). Parsley is native to Europe. Parsley, in adddition to coriander, and dill, is small enough not to overpower the tomato plant, and also attracts tiny wasps, that are parasites of tomato pests (Russell, 2013)

The tiny wasps are called braconids. This I have seen. I grew parsley in with my tomatoes and last year it was flowering (it is the nectar in the flowers that attracts the braconids). Every single tomato hornworm I found had already been parasitized by the braconids. I will always have parsley with my tomatoes now.
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gixxerific
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Re: Companion Planting Guide

Thanks RBG great post. That is what I'm talking about, companion planting isn't fool proof but every little bit you can do to increase your odds is that much further to a successful garden. I haven't grown parsley in a while I saved a bunch that still seems ok.

But the basil I always plant it between rows, it stays short and allows light and air in while filling space and hopefully adding a benefit to my tomatoes and vice versa. Marigolds as well and yes parsley, the more the merrier.

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Re: Companion Planting Guide

Has anyone ever heard of the 3 Sisters garden? I stumbled across this about a year ago and thought about trying it out. https://www.reneesgarden.com/articles/3sisters.html
"According to Iroquois legend, corn, beans, and squash are three inseparable sisters who only grow and thrive together.
Corn provides a natural pole for bean vines to climb. Beans fix nitrogen on their roots, improving the overall fertility of the plot by providing nitrogen to the following years corn. Bean vines also help stabilize the corn plants, making them less vulnerable to blowing over in the wind. Shallow-rooted squash vines become a living mulch, shading emerging weeds and preventing soil moisture from evaporating, thereby improving the overall crops chances of survival in dry years. Spiny squash plants also help discourage predators from approaching the corn and beans. The large amount of crop residue from this planting combination can be incorporated back into the soil at the end of the season, to build up the organic matter and improve its structure."

The link provides directions and a matrix for planting.

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Re: Companion Planting Guide

yes, gardeners know about the three sisters! :) You have to be careful how you plant them though. Plant the corn first, well spaced. Maybe three weeks later, when the corn is a few inches high, plant bean seeds near them. Maybe three weeks later, when the beans are at least a few inches high, plant the squash seeds around them. This keeps the plants from over running each other and works perfectly in terms of soil warmth needed. The corn seed can probably be planted even a little before all danger of frost is passed, as long as the soil is workable. The beans have to have all danger of frost passed and the soil warmed up a little. Squash are warm weather crops that don't get planted until the soil is well warmed up. Leave plenty of room for everything - squash are big plants
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Re: Companion Planting Guide

Yep, the proper way to plant 3 Sisters is to plant one row of squash, move over six feet and plant 3 rows of corn spaced 30 inches, move over 30 inches and plant 4 rows of beans spaced 30 inches. Plant on the day of the average "last frost" in your area. Enjoy!

(Interesting this old thread got resurrected.)
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Companion Planting Guide

of course, james is kidding, because he doesn't believe in companion planting... :) you would no longer call that three sisters, you would call it a squash patch and a corn patch and a bean patch.
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Re: Companion Planting Guide

I get so excited every time I see those tiny wasps.

I recently tossed a bunch of dill seeds in the beds. Wish I'd done it weeks ago. I'm so impatient.

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Re: Companion Planting Guide

I noticed something last summer that I hadn't seen before.

When I first started gardening, I bought a Russian Sage. Apparently, my reading skills failed and I did catch that it would spread about 3ft and grow up about 2-3 ft as a bush. I have trimmed it several times over the years.

Last year, I didn't trim it. I had so many little purple flowers this summer, right next to my basil, parsley and tomatoes.

I counted on a continuous basis all summer 5 - 6 different pollinators at that sage who then moved to other plants. I was able to ID Bumble bees, Honey Bees, and Green Metallic Wasps. I also had small square headed grey striped bees and some tiny black wasps or flies. They all love that Russian Sage and those tomatoes were so plentiful we made four different batches of sauce.

Just thought I'd share.
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Re: Companion Planting Guide

Thank you, this is very helpful for me

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Re: Companion Planting Guide

Thanks gixxerific. I've heard of companion planting but didn't give it a second thought. After reading the responses it's interesting to learn how companion planting can help with pest control and crop productivity.
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Re: Companion Planting Guide

This is amazing, thank you for sharing. I'm gonna copy and then start adding my own to the list. Good stuff.

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Re: Companion Planting Guide

rainbowgardener " of course, james is kidding, because he doesn't believe in companion planting... :) you would no longer call that three sisters, you would call it a squash patch and a corn patch and a bean patch."

Giggling here............................

Truth be told...... in my limited experience of 70 + years of growing, it is my observation that plants do best when given their own space, (enough space) and good fertile soil, sunshine and water. The best thing we can do is work on our soil then give our plants the space they need. Weed and water and we will succeed.

Here is the challenge for anyone interested. Plant three rows of corn. Then plant three rows of beans (use poles). Then move over and plant 3 rows of corn and plant the beans right along with the corn so the beans can climb the corn. Now be careful to get the same number of plants in each planting. Now when harvest time comes carefully count and weigh the harvest from each and let me know how it goes?

The corn makes a stalk for the beans to climb. The beans supposedly make nitrogen to fertilize the corn. Is not that what the three sisters is about? Don't know what the squash is supposed to do for the mix. Looks like competition for water, nutrients and sunlight?
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Re: Companion Planting Guide

The squash functions sort of like mulch, shades the ground, holds water in. I do think it allows you to put more plants in the same space. If you have a 10x10 plot, you could make three 3x10 strips, corn, bean, squash. Or you can fill the 10 x10 with corn (as much as you would if you were just planting corn). Then plant beans next to the corn, then fill in all the space with squash. Since you are planting as much corn as you would just planting corn, then any beans and squash you get are a bonus. Unless the beans and squash reduce the corn yield so much that it cancels out what you get, it seems pretty clear that the total yield is more.

I would love to some day do the experiment, but I don't have enough ground.
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Re: Companion Planting Guide

I have not made the test either. One must be careful when planting corn though, if you get it too close in a patch, the inner stalks get tall but will have no ears on them. Just tassels. So it needs space too. Yet it does better if several rows or a patch is planted so that the ears get pollinated. A single row is not the best answer as sometimes the ears don't get pollinated and you have an ear with the kernels not filling out or patchy kernels.

I once thought I would grow a lot of corn on a 12 x 12 foot patch. I put about 200 seeds on that much space. What I got was a lot of tall stalks, but only those on the perimeter had any ears on them.

There is some talk on Wikipedia of the "Three Sisters" look it up.
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Re: Companion Planting Guide

I read, that just not pleasant smelling French marigolds repel pests, not new fancier varieties. What plants repel ants? We have aphid farming ants, and despite of having good bug population, cucumbers and melons get killed each year by large amounts of aphids. I did set out borax sugar baits for ants, and I was wondering, if there any plant, that ants hate.

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Re: Companion Planting Guide

Ants hate aromatics and strong smelling things particularly mints - spearmint, peppermint, pennyroyal. Pennyroyal is a very strong mint, that is most effective for pest control. But alliums like garlic and onions also help repel ants. Anything pungent, such as basil or sage, helps repel them, also tansy, citrus peels.
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Re: Companion Planting Guide

I do have mint in my garden (which I am trying to eradicate and plant just in pot), I can certainly dry up some of it and sprinkle around cucumbers and melons. I never grew pennyroyal, but I could -in the pot, of course. I was wondering, could I plant any of these in the same pot with a tree -I will have moringa, dwarf mulberry, Brazilian grape, truly tiny banana, and kiwis in the pot. And loquats once they sprout (I will graft them, when they will be a year old.) Or they would take too much from the soil?

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Re: Companion Planting Guide

This has been an amazing discussion. Thank you all for your comments. Yes, we can learn from each other, and we also learn to do by doing. Hope you are having a great gardening summer?

Yes, there are many ways to garden. From my youth I tagged my Dad around the garden. His garden was just a corner of the wheat field where he planted corn, beans, squash and taters. What I call the big 4. These are the foods that fed us. Other veggies add color and flavor. Many of you talk about your "Beds", Well for me, my bed is like Dad's a corner of the field. Yes, I have wide open spaces. I can spread out as far as I like. Actually think I have too much garden. Can't keep up.

No matter how we garden, the principles are the same. Give the plants what they need and they will respond with a bountiful harvest.

Here it started out wet and cold and we got a late start so things are running late. I am getting loads of zucchini, and the green beans are starting to bloom. Looks like I will get a crop of beans. The corn is just tasseling and the bees are working it for the pollen. Had great early onions and the carrots have done well.

Have a great day!
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jal_ut
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Re: Companion Planting Guide

Its been a good season even though it got going rather slowly. No frost yet. Still getting zucchini and crooknecks. The corn did fantastic this season. Just picked the last of the corn yesterday.
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jal_ut
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Re: Companion Planting Guide

Quote: "The squash functions sort of like mulch, shades the ground, holds water in."

Are you kidding? Squash is a large plant and sucks up water like a sponge. I am sticking with what I originally said: "Give each plant its own space and enough space, and you will be successful."
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mauser
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Re: Companion Planting Guide

Some plants really do need there space no doubt. But there are some I have found you can crowd. Hot peppers I put really really close together. Tomatoes and cucumber that I am going to grow vertically I will also plant pretty close.
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Gary350
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Re: Companion Planting Guide

jal_ut wrote:rainbowgardener " of course, james is kidding, because he doesn't believe in companion planting... :) you would no longer call that three sisters, you would call it a squash patch and a corn patch and a bean patch."

Giggling here............................

Truth be told...... in my limited experience of 70 + years of growing, it is my observation that plants do best when given their own space, (enough space) and good fertile soil, sunshine and water. The best thing we can do is work on our soil then give our plants the space they need. Weed and water and we will succeed.

Here is the challenge for anyone interested. Plant three rows of corn. Then plant three rows of beans (use poles). Then move over and plant 3 rows of corn and plant the beans right along with the corn so the beans can climb the corn. Now be careful to get the same number of plants in each planting. Now when harvest time comes carefully count and weigh the harvest from each and let me know how it goes?

The corn makes a stalk for the beans to climb. The beans supposedly make nitrogen to fertilize the corn. Is not that what the three sisters is about? Don't know what the squash is supposed to do for the mix. Looks like competition for water, nutrients and sunlight?
Jal is right. I don't believe in companion planting either experiments I tried long ago did not work. I have been gardening for 55 years. I believe in scientific experiments to prove what works and what does not work. Old folks like my grandparents know things that work but don't know why. I like to know why. I learn new things all the time, one thing I know for sure you can ask questions on this forum and the answers someone gives is correct for them but may not be correct for you. You live in a different geographical location, different weather, more or less rain, more or less clouds, different soil, different bugs, etc. Sometimes you can duplicate what other people do but you can not duplicate their weather, bugs, and other things. I learned in college a plants root system is as large as the plant you see on the surface. If the soil is hard and restricts root growth the plant will only grow as large as the roots. For a long time I had trouble with bell peppers then I remembered what I learned about roots so I dumped 6" of peat moss on the garden soil and tilled it in now my bell peppers grow 7 feet tall and the bell peppers are 5" and 6" diameter. Just because this works for me in my geographical location with my weather conditions it may not work as well for others. We get 300 days of rain every year you might need to water your garden a lot to equal what I have. I heard beans add nitrogen to the soil if you pull your beans up after first harvest and plant corn it will grow much better but I have not tried it yet. For 20 years I lived in a subdivision where all the top soil had been removed soil was clay and the garden would not grow until I added lots of things to make soil better but now I live in a different house that has real top soil, WOW I wont know how to act this year it will be a whole new learning experience to have good soil. I use to plant 300 corn plant is a 10'x10' space in my tiny garden because corn does not pollinate well in a small crop but, lack of sun, lack of root space, etc, you only get 1 ear of corn and sometimes only 1/2 an ear. Long ago I planted pole beans with corn it did not work, corn grows faster than beans, beans get too much shade, beans leaves shade the corn, both plants so bad. The only companion planting that might work is plant your corn where the beans were yesterday.

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jal_ut
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Re: Companion Planting Guide

Wow! interesting this old discussion from way back in '09 got re-upped.

Comes to corn, I suggest planting rows spaced 30 inches apart with the plants 10 to 12 inches apart in the rows. You need a plot with at least three rows to do a good job of getting pollinated. You could do that in a 10 X 10 area. (about 36-40 plants, not 300) Usually given this much space corn will make two ears of corn per stalk. If corn is crowded, it may have no ears. You should be able to get 60 - 70 ears from that 10 x 10. Variety is a variable too. I find Ambrosia to be excellent.

Yes, crop rotation is good. Corn where the beans were.
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jal_ut
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Re: Companion Planting Guide

Also in looking at corn seeds be aware of the number of days to maturity. 70-75 day corn does well here. The 105 day stuff won't make it in this area.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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