Friday, March 6, 2009

Companion Gardening: Reduce pests, disease, and vermin organically

Unemployment has reached 8.1%, a staggering figure and the highest since 1983.

Really, it's even worse than that.

When you include people who have stopped looking for work but would like to work, the percentage rises to a 9.1% unemployment rate. (Click through the slide show on the front page for these numbers on a graph.)

When you include the underemployed, meaning people who are working part-time who want to work full-time, the figure jumps to 14.8%.

In addition, people are out of work longer. Almost 40% of those who are unemployed have been unemployed for 15 weeks or longer. That's the highest number of long-term unemployed since WWII.

Time to plant that garden. If you don't need it, people you know or food banks will.

Below the fold: Gleaned from the excellent book Carrots Love Tomatoes by Louise Riotte and sources on the internet, here's a listing of vegetables to interplant to reduce pests and disease.

As organic farmers know: monoculture doesn't work. Just planting the same plants interspersed with each other reduces the amount of pesticides and antimicrobials you'll need to use.

Some plants help each other ward off pests and even vermin by masking scent or providing a physical barrier. "Companion planting," as detailed in the excellent book Carrots Love Tomatoes by Louise Riotte, available at Amazon and in local bookstores and libraries. This book goes into much more detail about each vegetable and its beneficial and inhibitory companions.

I've grouped plants together for easy reference:

First Group: The Three Sisters

Pumpkins and winter squash (like butternut)

To Native Americans of the Southwest, corn, beans, and squash were known as the "three sisters," composing a majority of the diet.

Plant corn in the middle, at least 7 rows of it, then plant beans or peas at the base of each corn stalk. The beans will climb up the corn, anchoring it more firmly. Plant pumpkins and squash around the stand of corn to deter predators like raccoons. The broad leaves will create a barrier. Cucumbers enjoy the shade on the ground from the tall corn.

If you aren't growing corn due to space limitations, use poles or trellises for the beans or peas.

Second Group: Salad and Herbs


Plant tomato seedlings in the center of the garden, no closer than 30 inches from each other, preferably 4 feet apart. This reduces disease incidence.

Plant salad vegetables under and around the tomatoes. Plant lettuce where it will get some afternoon shade from the growing tomatoes. Intersperse aliums (onion types and garlic) between the vegetables.

Plant herbs around the perimeter.

Third Group: Getting A Head (Cabbage Family)


Intersperse aliums and herbs with cabbages to repel pests and varmints.

Fourth Group: Melonheads

Melons (all types)

Intersperse a few aliums or radishes to repel pests and vermin. Placing a square of waxed paper under melons will keep worms from tunneling up through the dirt and into the melon.

More Articles:

Tomato Primer for Growing Tomatoes

More Tomato Wisdom from DailyKos Tomato Mavens -- Taken from excellent comments to the above DailyKos post.

Why plant a garden? (Garden of Eatin' post)

Why is TK doing this?

TK Kenyon

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