Since this is the time to get those gardens in, let’s talk a little about companion planting. This is something we started to experiment with a few years ago after looking into the Three Sisters Method of gardening; the three sisters being corn, squash, and beans. The general concept of companion planting is to grow plants symbiotically to deter weeds and pests, enrich the soil, and support each other.
For instance, the corn offers the beans necessary support and the pole beans, considered the giving sister, pulls nitrogen from the air and brings it to the soil for the benefit of all three. Then the large leaves of the sprawling squash protect the threesome by creating living mulch that shades the soil, keeping it cool and moist and preventing weeds. The prickly squash leaves also keep away raccoons and other pests, which don’t like to step on them. Together, the three sisters provide a sustainable soil fertility.
Although we grow all three of these plants, we are not growing them together because we don’t have the room in our garden for the squash, so we grow it elsewhere on our property. We use companion planting because we really don’t wish to use pesticides and any chemical assistants unless necessary. Let’s not forget though that companion planting isn’t just about pairing vegetables together. Herbs and flowering plants are also part of this mix, which will bring in those pollinators and also deter pests. Some flowering plants such as nasturtiums are also edible. I’m hoping this year we get enough to make some nasturtium hot sauce. Also, did you know that growing basil with your tomatoes may make them sweeter?
What will you pair together?
Brad and Susan Emery are members of the Dunnville Horticultural Society (DHS). Due to COVID-19 restrictions, DHS has suspended member meetings.
If you have questions or comments, please contact DHS President Deb Zynomirski at email@example.com or check out dunnvillehortandgardenclub.org. Note that 2021 DHS memberships are currently available through mail. Send a cheque or money order ($10 single, $15 couple) to Dunnville Horticultural Society, P.O. Box 274, Dunnville, Ontario N1A 2X5.