Thursday, June 9, 2011

Passionate Learning about Companion Planting

It’s hardly a newsflash that it is seriously hot outside. It was at least 89 degrees at 6:30 p.m. last night. You have to be seriously passionate about gardening to attend an outdoor workshop on Companion Planting, but 10 hearty folks did yesterday at the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden. Franklin Park Conservatory’s own Barb Arnold visited the SACG to educate us about the benefits of companion planting and answered a host of other questions as well. The workshop was well attended, especially considering the heat. I brought water, popsicles and frozen juice bars for everyone.

Barb gave each of us a chart showing plant friends (which you should plant together) and frenemies (which you should not plant together). Some plants attract good bugs (like lady bugs) to eat pesky aphids, while others lure aphids away (like nasturtium). Basil is good for a lot of plants because its aroma repeals bad bugs (like tomato worms). Planting pole beans next to corn puts nitrogen in the soil (which benefits the greedy corn). Then planting zucchini near the beans and corns creates a large barrier (with its prickly stems) to varmints.

For bug control, you can try:
• Sprinkling cat nip tea on eggplant and potatoes to deter flea beetles (which had infested the potatoes in the Hawkins family plot).
• Beans protect eggplant from the Colorado potato beetle
• Basil repels aphids, flies, mosquitoes and mites.
• Garlic, chives and leeks repel aphids, weevils, carrot flies, moles, red spiders, BUT is not good to be near beans or peas
• Cilantro repels aphids
• Geranimums (particularly white ones) repel cabbage worms and Japanese beetles.
• Marigolds deter Mexican bean beetles and nematodes.
• Mustard greens are a trap crop which attack numerous insects and can be removed and destroyed before the other crops are harmed.
• Nasturtium repel cucumber beetles, whiteflies and squash bugs. They attract aphids and should be removed and discarded when they are covered with ants or aphids.
• Radishes deter cucumber beetles, but radishes planted this time of year will be extra spicy.
• Thyme deters flea beetles, cabbage worm, etc.

Barb also discussed how important it was to plant at the proper time of year. Soil temperature has a huge affect on the germination of seeds. It will be a good time to plant melons in another week. You can find out the current soil temperature by googling OARDC weather. This Ohio State University program tests soil temperature every five minutes at 2 and four inches in Columbus.

She also discouraged us from planting zucchini, pumpkins or summer squash before mid-June in order to avoid the first egg-laying cycle of squash bugs.

The workshop was well attended with Barb and Diane from the Bexley Community Garden, Richard, Annie (the unpictured photographer) and baby from Growing Hands and Hearts Community Garden on Oak Street and Louise, Betty, Charlie, Fred and me from the SACG. Rayna came as we were ending (to get a flier and water her plot). After everyone cleared out, Barbara came by to weed and thin her plot and brought 5 of her 15 grandchildren with her. We had fun picking strawberries and carrots.

On another note, the GHH garden is planning an arts in the garden program for area children beginning July 19 (if they get funding).

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