Currently viewing the tag: "garlic"

Crafty Companion Gardening

by Ana Morlier

Spring has sprung, and it’s time to plan for the daunting task of deciding who gets a spot in the elite garden bed (or stays in a sad seed packet for who knows how many years). For more seasoned gardeners, I see you with your saffron and perfectly grown basil (puns intended). This article may be a tad repetitive for you. Just know that you can be proud of your Pinterest-worthy plants and that you are truly a pro in gardening. I humbly bow down in respect. For novices such as myself, companion gardening seems quite genius and explains why my plants have been, uh, not doing so well in the past. It’s time that my lonely (and only surviving) mint plants made nice and shared the garden bed. Below is a list of my recommendations for plant bed layouts, along with some nifty pest-repellent plants.

Pest-Repellent Plants

Get rid of bugs, attract the right pollinators, and offer a shade gradient for sun protection! Herb troubleshooting for getting rid of these pests:

Basil: Thrips, moths, armyworms. Attracts pollinators.

Dill: Ladybugs love it and get rid of your aphids and pesky spider mites

Garlic: Deters aphids, onion flies, moths, and Japanese beetles.

Mint: Aphids, ants, flea beetles. Grow at your own risk—it’s very greedy for land.

Sage: Carrot fly, moths.

Sunflowers: Pollinator, supportive for vines and other growers.

Tansy: Attracts both pest-killing insects (ladybugs, wasps) and deters cutworms.

Marigolds: Flower pollinator and all-around pest removal service.

Borage: Attracts bees, makes strawberries and tomatoes taste better.

Plotting the Plot: The Plot

All plants listed are warm-weather-loving plants (soil temperature minimum 50 degrees Fahrenheit), requiring 6-8 hours of sun. Make sure tall crops do not block pepper or tomato plants.

“Basil Pepper Pizza” Plot

Basil (loves water and mulch) is perfect for water retention. Peppers (I recommend bell, but try any variety of spicy pepper). Plant now! Early May is a great time to get started. You may need to plant (any type of) beans between the tomato and pepper plants to separate root systems and allow both to receive nutrients. Do not water from above, with only 1-2 inches of water per week. Tomatoes (early summer recommended). If buying from a nursery, you’ll want to avoid plants with flowers, fruit, or yellow leaves. Look for sturdy, dark green shoots. Purslane (great for keeping basil in shade, while making tomatoes and peppers taste better)! It’s also an edible leafy vegetable (despite claims of it being a weed).

“Cornucopia” Plot

Rosemary (natural insect repellent). Pole beans (enhance corn flavor through nitrogen control). Seedlings have weak roots and hate the cold and moisture, so plant outside and monitor carefully. Finally, have a trellis, teepee structure, or other support for this plant—it grows quickly and needs lots of (emotional) support, just like the rest of us. Squash (my favorite vegetable because it is super tasty sauteed, but it grows so well and is quite hearty). Must be a summer squash variety to eat with skin-on, which also includes yellow squash. Loves moisture! Corn (beans will climb up it in a greeting embrace). Strawberries (If you want to have a strawberry party at the end of the month, plant June-bearing varieties. A strawberry explosion all at once!). Day-neutral is your best bet for a continuous harvest. It won’t grow well in a plot that previously hosted tomatoes, peppers, or eggplants due to resentment from the last party.

“Garden Salad” Plot (Be ADAMANT about weeding! I take my all-uppercase words seriously)

Lettuce (keep soil moist but not soggy). It will certainly let you know that it is, in fact, not okay with wilting leaves (if too dry). It’s perfectly fine to water it any time of the day. Put in the shade of taller plants or shade cloth, so leaves don’t turn out bitter (due to bolting). Corn and tomatoes will be your friend on this one). Carrots (try not to plant in rocky soil for non-funky looking veggies). Sandy soil is best with lighter watering. Chard (cut when a foot tall, down to 3-5 inches, so it remains sweeter, if that can be said of this leafy vegetable). Make sure everyone gets a fair share of water because sharing is caring in your garden, in this case. Onions (plant marigolds with this one to offset pests). Let emerging onions breathe, but tiny immature guys can be covered with a bit of mulch. Mulch will let you off the hook for watering since it retains moisture well, so only one inch of water per week if you use this secret weapon. Another tip: More water makes onions sweeter and more nitrogen makes bulbs larger. Finally, tomatoes that are grown nearby can deter thrips from eating the fruits of your labor.

You can find many more pairings at the Old Farmer’s Almanac website (Search companion planting). The website also has an addicting little mobile game—I mean, an app, for planning your garden bed virtually (and maxing out your screen time for the day). You can enter in regional details, and the app will even plan out weather and pest patterns with lots of resources for planting and troubleshooting. You can also use Kitchen Garden Planner at Gardener’s Supply (website) and Garden Manager.

Lettuce commence planting season in this onion of flavors and vegetables. To purslane and beyond!

Sunflowers supporting their bean brethren. 

Credit to: Credit to Catherine Boeckman and editing staff at Old Farmer’s Almanac, and Barbara Gillette of the Spruce.

Christine Schoenemann (Maccabee)

Garlic: The Queen of My Garden

Have you planted your garlic cloves yet? It’s not too late, but the sooner the better. I must still clean out a tomato bed in order to make room for mine, so don’t feel bad if you haven’t started yet. I do my best to get about fifty of the biggest cloves from this past June’s harvest planted by early October, so they can get roots started before the frost. The roots are essential so the cloves do not rot over winter, at least that is my theory. By the time the snow falls, I usually have at least an inch of lovely green tops sticking up through the mulch.

Don’t worry, garlic cloves can endure the cold winter since they are hardy bulbs, much like our lovely daffodils, jonquils, and crocuses. Indeed, garlic is the queen of my garden as it demands to be planted every autumn no matter how busy I am. Not every gardener likes to grow garlic, but I have spoken to a good many folks who would like to but are not sure how to go about it. Perhaps the following garlic tale will inspire you to try.

Years ago, I lived in the outskirts of Morgantown, West Virginia, where many people had large gardens. On one of my daily hikes from town to home (I did not own a car back then), I took a different route and came upon a sizable field of something wonderfully green. Curious, I knocked on the door of the small cottage next to the field, and an elderly gentleman appeared. Conversation came easily as he gladly shared some tips about growing garlic. Garlic! I never would have guessed, as I was a novice gardener at the time, and so I stood there both amazed and eager to learn.

He told me that the secret to growing garlic successfully is to plant it in early autumn. I cannot remember all he told me, but whatever he said inspired me to try it myself. Over the years, learning through books and my own intuition, I have developed a simple method of planting that I will share with you. I simply loosen the rows with a hoe and then push each clove down into the soil, about one inch, with the tops barely showing, or not at all. I mark the rows so I can then put straw or grass clippings in between the rows, adding a little chicken manure if I have it. Simple.

Garlic is a well-known healing agent, with anti-bacterial and even anti-fungal properties; it may even lower cholesterol levels. If you have goats, add it to their feed if they have worms, and the worms will disappear. I tried that with my goats years ago and it worked! I wonder if it would help cats and dogs? Personally, I love it in just about everything I cook; I sometimes just chew on it raw, and am certain I am healthier for it.

Now, on to another garlic tale for all of you to chew on, lessons to be learned from an older and hopefully wiser woman…

One year, I was truly late in planting all the garlic cloves I had intended to. By mid-October, I had only a fraction of the bed planted. However, stubborn as I am, I became resolved to get the rest in before cold weather. Following the weather patterns, as every gardener does, I knew that several days of rain were coming. Since the weather was still mild, I became determined to plant the rest of the bed before the rain. So, in the dim remnants of daylight that evening, I turned the soil and planted a few dozen cloves, finishing up another dozen with the help of a failing flashlight. Throwing some goat manure and straw between the rows, I hurried inside to cook a late dinner, satisfied that I had done a very good thing. Shortly thereafter, the rain started. Dinner never tasted so satisfying that evening, with garlic in the stew, of course.

For me, garlic is the Queen of my Garden, a prima donna of sorts. She demands to be planted, even if the planting is after dark and with a failing flashlight! Yes, she rules my fall gardening with firm but kind authority. She is a must for all serious gardeners, and the results of your effort and patience will be a jewel in your crown.

Christine is a Master Naturalist in the State of Maryland and welcomes any questions or stories of your own about gardening for food or for wildlife. She can be reached at