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Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Companion Planting

Gardening is like writing - there's always something new to learn. I have to admit that in the past the things which have worked well in this garden have been more a result of a happy accident rather than a lot of forethought. When we moved here the garden was very formally laid out and consisted mainly of fuchsias and Michaelmas daisies planted in rows although the person who originally designed the garden obviously knew exactly what they were doing when it came to placing these magnificent rhododendrons. They flower in succession, firstly these mid pink ones, followed by a delicate pale pink, then a small flowered mauve one and finally a burst of cerise right at the back.

All those years ago we had three young children and a house which needed fairly major renovation so when given cuttings and plants by family and friends we stuck them in, crossed our fingers and hoped! However in recent years we have begun to think more about shape and form and colour combinations.

I'm particularly fond of the effect of this Chaerophyllum against the tiny silvery green leaves of the Hebe.

Last autumn we planted some leftover tulip bulbs by the pond. They are Negrita and Angelique and I think they work really well together.

A couple of years ago I bought a book for my son, who is a garden designer, and I am dipping into that to try and improve my expertise on companion planting. It's a beautiful book by Anna Pavord.

I was also recently given a sheet of information about vegetable planting which is fascinating. Just like people, some vegetables prefer the company of others.

Plants may be good companions because:-

They like the same soil and weather conditions.

One helps the other by loosening the soil for its roots.

One fives welcome shade and protection to its companion.

One attracts an insect that is beneficial to the other.

One deters a pest that habitually attacks the other - (i.e. sage, rosemary and thyme repel the cabbage butterfly; onions and leeks repel the carrot fly).

One may leave a residue in the soil that benefits its companion.

Here is a brief list of some vegetables, their companions and antagonists:-

Plant                                       Companions                                Antagonist

Beetroot                                  dwarf beans, onion                      runner beans

Dwarf Beans                           aubergine, beetroot,                     onion family
                                                celery, potatoes, sweetcorn,

Runner Beans                          marigold, marjoram,                   cabbage, onions
                                                 sweetcorn                                    sunflowers

Carrots                                     broad beans, lettuce, onion         dill
                                                 family, peas rosemary, sage,

Courgette                                 borage, fennel, nasturtium          potatoes

Lettuce                                    carrots, celery, garlic, radish       fennel, rue

I could go on but I won't. It's fascinating stuff though and I do wonder if my courgettes have not done well in the past because they were planted near to the potatoes.

My vegetable plot is not really big enough to adopt this on a grand scale but I'm off to plant my runner beans now and will make sure not to put them anywhere near the two sunflowers we are growing for our grand-daughter. We haven't grown potatoes this year due to lack of space so I'm even tempted to have a go at courgettes again. I hate to be defeated!

Thank-you for reading and have a good week whether in or out of the garden.                                              

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