Hi neighbor! -or- Companion planting
Last week, Green Zone attracted some entomological company: buzzing bees and a metal butterfly sculpture (it flew away for a spell, but promises to return soon). There are more bugs hanging out in the Green Zone and sampling just a little of the scarlet runner bean leaves. Once I identify them, I’ll introduce them.
Another set of companions just sprung up next to Green Zone: a group of containers planted with veg and herbs. One of the Firehouse 13 artists caught the gardening bug.
In garden talk, companion planting is growing different crops near each other so that they can help each other. Some plants are generally helpful to have in the garden, because they repel pests (see marigolds), distract pests (see nasturtiums), or attract good insects (see scarlet runner beans).
Other plants work well in combination, like the “Three Sisters.” This traditional Native American trio includes squash plants growing on the ground with their big leaves crowding out potential weeds and keeping the soil moist, while corn stalks grow to the sky and support pole bean vines that fix nitrogen in the soil. Then there are the odd couples…plants that enjoy each other’s company, like tomatoes and basil, cucumbers and peas, asparagus and parsley, etc. On the other hand, some plants just don’t get along. I’ve heard about feuding watermelons and cucumbers that cross-pollinated to produce mutant cucumelons.
Diversity makes things more colorful, productive, and sustainable, in the garden and beyond. But best to keep some distance between the Hatfields and McCoys, as well as the cabbages and strawberries.