The thing I am most grateful for in our gardening endeavors today is that we learned how to use “companion planting” to our benefit!
Those that may not have heard of this before: It is the method of planting that puts one or more plants next to each other, to naturally protect and strengthen them.
What this means is very simple:
- Plant carrots with tomatoes.
- Plant dill with just about everything.
- Plant marigolds with just about everything.
- Oh, and when possible, leave a place totally natural – untouched!
The last one is a HUGE secret that we found out about last year.
The fire three years ago set us back on all of our normal routines. The biggest damage occurred on the land and gardens. To have something, anything, for harvest in the fall of 2014; we chose to let parts of the farm and gardens go natural.
Then in 2015, we were still trying to get a handle on things, and I was still doing surgeries. Since I am the main person working on the farm and gardens, I was in no shape to keep up with it all (and we only garden on about 5 of our 20 acres.).
It was summer of 2016 when it came time to finally tame the whole area. We have one long field that is about 100-feet wide by about 200-feet long. It is the length of the whole main area of our farm. Nothing is growing in there except weeds and wild grasses. The chickens loved roaming around in there after bugs and worms. The problem by mid-summer is that we could not see the chickens in the tall grasses anymore – HUGE DANGER FOR CHICKEN FARMERS!
Even though we had not seen or heard a coyote or fox in a couple of years, we did not want to take the chance. Thus the major mowing finally began. My sister was smart! Out of the fire funds, we managed to purchase a John Deere Riding Mower – best investment ever!!
I put on my pretty sun hat (not – but it works- ha ha), doused myself with sun screen and bug repellant started the monster up and away I went. What fun it actually was! I could get pretty close to things so we would only have to push-mow a few spots when I was done.
When I got to the long field, I went around the first corner, and a praying mantis landed on my arm! I stopped mowing, caught it with my hand and put it into the greenhouse. It took me about 3 hours that first day to clear that long field (normal is only about 1 hour), due to the friendly critters!
We then realized that the corner where we had a pile of old wooden posts had attracted a bunch of bad bugs, which then attracted a bunch of good bugs – viola – natural pest controls!
We used to trim up everything thinking that this would keep the nasties away – nope, the best we ever did was to leave the woodsy area alone. Most of the long field gets mowed now, but a large section with the wood gets left untouched.
Companion planting works in the same manner. You plant things next to each other to deter the bad bugs and naturally attract the good bugs. I even let the dill in the greenhouse run amok this summer. It is over five-feet tall. Has seed heads the size of basketballs, and attracts the aphids. I have no clue why they love the dill more than all else, but they do.
I can now plant dill in succession and simply cut down and bad the old buggy stuff and throw it in the trash. The plastic bags will suck out the air and kill them, or they will be moved to the dump when the trash guy comes.
I can still find a bit on my food plants – but not as much and it is easy to take care of with wash or wiping.
Hope this helps – happy gardening!
(If you enjoyed this bit of humor, please feel free to visit my latest blog: Life Lessons Lived to get more laughter in your life!)