The Sweet Life Gardener

By Alisa Murray

Who Goes With Who?

Hey Sweet Lifers! I hope by now you have taken a few moments to think about what you and your family loves to eat and jotted down a few vegetables and fruits that you would like to walk outside and just pick fresh from your yard. There’s really nothing more fabulous that eating freshly picked, and once you start doing this, I must warn you there will be no turning back.

Recently I planted the starters for our spring/summer garden, and my son followed behind me asking very anxiously if I had planted enough bell peppers! “You know Mom, those taste completely differently than the ones at the store, and I do not like the ones at the store!” I smiled as this is not the first time he has made clear specific vegetables he wanted planted. I am making progress in getting him to eat fresh and organic, and all of us know that is one of the best ways to stay healthy. As an aside, I will be happier, or maybe have another heart attack,  when he actually volunteers to help in the actual putting in the garden . . . or maybe volunteers to go out there daily and water it when days turn to a hot soupy mess! One can always hope.

Now that you know what you need to plant and how much of it you should consider to have enough to feed and possibly can, preserve or pickle, don’t rush off the gardening center just yet! I marvel at some of the choices I see in my fellow shoppers carts. We all get so excited in early spring to dig in the dirt and run out and buy up stuff. If you want your garden to be at what I call “full throttle” by mid summer, now is the time to lay out where they will live. In order to help them grow properly and with as little effort on your part, a secondary however very important consideration is who they live with. Kinda like us humans, some vegetables do play “sweetly” well together while others do not! I begin this by looking at each bed and knowing the “sunshine factor.” Start putting together sketches of the beds. This is important for two reasons. One it allows me to go through and count out how many I have placed for feeding purposes making sure I did plan for enough, and secondly, it serves as my record of where the vegetables went in that year so I can make notes of what happened. One year I planted eggplant in the side bed, and they did great, but rotating them just a few yards away was a dramatic downfall the next, so knowing where they like to be is as important as planning, planting and a huge part of caring for them. This is, of course, the same for each and every vegetable.

Who goes with who is the best way to make sure you give your garden the best protection against pests and the extra nutrients given off by certain vegetables and herbs, when partnered offer a symbiotic relationship. For example, always plant tomatoes with asparagus, because they contain solanine, which the asparagus beetle hates and in turn asparagus contains chemicals against nematodes in turn reciprocating to help the tomato. Always plant some basil and parsley and onions sprinkled everywhere, as they add vigor and protect against insects. Additionally, planting carrots with tomatoes also offers protection for both vegetables as does adding in radishes, leeks and chives, even adding rosemary and sage. However, if you choose the rosemary or sage, you’ll need to not plant the basil because those two do not like one another! Carrots, likewise do not like dill, so put dill with cabbages, even lettuces and cucumbers if you want them to thrive and be “sweet.”

I know all of this is like trying to create a seating chart for a bunch of unruly family members at a wedding! That is why I created the “who goes with who” downloadable graphic that you can access here:

If you’ll take the time to plan now and carefully partner your plants with their friends, the garden of your dreams is right around the corner!

Keep on Growing!