The Battle in the Garden

Lettuce Varieties
Several varieties of lettuce growing closely together.

There is a battle going on underneath the calm exterior of your garden. In the air, on the plants and underground, a silent war is raging. There are allies and there are enemies, and there are neutral parties that are friendly to one side or the other.

This is the world of companion planting. Most gardeners think of companion plants as those that help each other out, such as Eggplant and Peppers.

However, there are also plants that should not be planted together, because they inhibit each others growth. Examples of these types of plants are garlic and beans or cabbage and cauliflower.

Then there are plants that help in the garden by deterring insect pests from another plant. You should plant mint and dill around cucumbers. Tomatoes deter cabbage worms

Then there is another class of plants that attract good insects, those that eat the bad insects. Dill attracts the tiny wasps that control cabbage worm

There is even a science of combining these properties called “Push-Pull Agricultural Pest Management.” The idea here is to push the insect pests away from your crop with repellor plants, while attracting them somewhere else with attractor plants.

The internet is full of charts and articles about which plants to plant together, and which plants not to plant together. I won’t repeat them here, now. That is a subject for the spring garden. In our fall garden, I will talk specifically about what we are growing in Zone 9.

If you followed my earlier post on You’re Late for a Very Important Date, you would have planted Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Swiss Chard, Kale, Parsley and Peas. Some companion plants that we will plant for these are listed below:

Companion planting chart
Fall Garden companion planting chart

Don’t plant everything in neat rows. Try to inter plant these vegetables together. Plant them as close together as the seed packages indicate. This distance is for mature plants, so they aren’t crowded, but their leaves will barely touch each other, and shade the ground below, suppressing weed growth.

Don’t think about how far apart the seedlings are now, or how much more of each variety you can plant. You will only hurt the crop later on. You must visualize how big the mature plant will be. I am amazed at how far apart the seed packages say to plant cauliflower or broccoli. I can’t plant very many in my plot at all. Then I see the heads mature, and realize that if I had planted them closer, the heads would have been smaller, or not have produced at all.

If you have been following along, let me know of your fall garden trials and victories. What have you planted going into the colder fall months, and how did it turn out?

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