Native American agricultural tribes have been using this combination of
corn, squash and beans for centuries because it works. A fish would be
buried under a small mound for fertilizer and corn would be planted on
top of the mound. Squash would cover the ground beneath the corn while
the beans climbed up the corn and added nitrogen to the soil. Multiple
mounds could be integrated into an edible landscape. Though this is only
one combination of plants that work well together, it is simple, proven
to work, and a great basis for understanding permaculture gardening
Yarrow is a beautiful wildflower that both repels insect pests and
attracts beneficial insects to the garden such as predatory wasps,
ladybugs, butterflies and bees. Yarrow is known for its beautiful,
intricate leaves and bright flowers and can be effectively used to
combat soil erosion. Besides benefitting the garden, this herb can be
used as an anti-inflammatory agent, a tonic, astringent, or can be used
in a variety of other medical uses. Flowers can be used to make bitters
and has been historically used to flavor beer. Due to its hardy nature,
yarrow thrives just about anywhere in the garden and comes in a variety
of colors, making it excellent for aesthetic and practical purposes in
8. Stinging Nettles
Possibly the most unpleasant plant on this list, the stinging nettle is
considered a weed by most. Chemical secretions within this plant cause
it to burn when handled, so exhibit caution. Despite its drawbacks,
stinging nettles are used in a variety of medicines and remedies
including gastrointestinal aid, BPH, increasing testosterone in
bodybuilding, or as a treatment for rheumatism. The leaves are eaten by
many types of caterpillars and will increase the amount of beneficial
insects in the garden. Stinging nettles are a natural repellent to
aphids and the roots contain anti-fungal properties. Nettle leaves can
be cooked as a healthy green or dried and used in herbal teas (soaking
in water and cooking eliminate the sting). This weed is extremely
beneficial, though care must be taken around the stinging leaves.
A strong, but pleasant smelling plant, wormwood is most famously used in
absinthe, though can also be used to brew beer, wine, and in making
bitters. This hardy bush contains chemicals that are the base of all
standard malaria medications, but with wormwood no medication is
necessary. It is a natural mosquito repellent, as well as a deterrent
for moths, slugs, fleas, flies, and mice. Scattering wormwood around the
perimeter of a garden acts as a natural fence to ward off unwanted
These perennial herbs are a great addition to nearly any garden. They
are unobtrusive to other plants and will increase yields of beans,
asparagus, chives, eggplants, pumpkin, squash or cucumbers amongst many
others. As long as the light is not being blocked and there is plenty of
room for root growth, most plants will thrive alongside both marjoram
and oregano. An aromatic mixture of herbs such as mint, spearmint,
oregano, lavender or lemon balm can fill any empty spaces in the garden,
stifling weed growth.
Everyone needs an herb garden. Besides repelling moths, ants and mice,
mint is a great addition to many drinks, desserts, or as a garnish. Keep
mint with other similar herbs and they will quickly fill out the space.
Cabbage and tomatoes reportedly increase yields in the presence of
mint, but proceed with caution. Despite all of its benefits, left on its
own mint will take over a garden. It grows back with a vengeance after
being cut. That being said, there will be no reason to ever buy mint at a
grocery store again.
4. Beans (Legumes)
Everyone loves beans, and for good reason. Part of the legume family,
they don’t need much space, they’re healthy, and they will revitalize
your garden soil. Unlike many plants that use up valuable nitrogen from
the earth, beans actually put it back through special enzymes in their
roots. Known as nitrogen fixing, legumes take atmospheric nitrogen (N2)
and convert it to Ammonium (NH4) in the soil, making this macronutrient
available to future and current plants in the vicinity. Aside from
plants in the onion family, beans will thrive alongside most crops. For
best results, plant legumes before, after, and amongst heavy feeders
like tomatoes, squash or broccoli.
Great in soup and even better in the garden, chives are a hardy, low
growing part of the onion family. Besides inhibiting mildew growth and
repelling many harmful insects, the bright purple flowers are known to
attract bees, which are needed to pollinate squash, tomatoes, cherries,
or a plethora of other flowering plants. Chives are best grown under
most types of trees, bushes and vines but should not be present
alongside beans. Harvesting can be done throughout the season as this
plant will constantly regrow its leaves. Chives and other members of the
onion family are excellent additions to any garden.
Besides flavor, garlic has a multitude of benefits for many plants.
Because this bulb thrives in shaded, nutrient rich soil, cover plants
Garlic has been known to deter ants, mosquitoes, aphids, cabbage
butterflies, caterpillars, snails, tomato worms, weevils and vampires
(can never be too careful). Despite all the apparent benefits, avoid
planting garlic with any type of beans, cabbages, or sunflowers since
they will compete with one another for valuable nutrients. Next time you
have an extra clove of garlic, plant it under a fruit tree, amongst
cucumbers, or interspersed with lavender. It will grow with minimal
effort. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, and garlic certainly is that
1. Tomatoes and Basil
Probably the most well known example of companion plants. Besides
improving each others flavor, tomatoes and basil really do work
together. The tomato vines provide shade for the delicate basil, which
delays flowering, lengthens the harvesting season, and overall increases
the yield. Meanwhile, basil is a natural repellent for fruit flies,
house flies, and aphids who want nothing more than to lay eggs in a
plump, delicious tomato. Tomato roots run deep, while basil tends to
stay closer to the surface, eliminating competition between the two
plants. High yields and high flavor means true plant love.
@onlyyoudear asked: Hi! I was just hoping to get your
advice on some raised bed gardening. In the past I’ve done just traditional
gardens, but this year am building four 4'x8’ raised beds to hopefully have a
more plentiful harvest. I’ve seen everywhere that people say you can plant
things closer together in raised beds, but no one says HOW much closer together
you can plant things. Do you have any recommendations on this? For instance how
close do you think you could plant two indeterminate tomato plants? Thanks so
much! Hope your planting adventures get to begin soon!!
Okay, so this is probably going to wind
up being rather lengthy, and I apologize for that. But I have several different suggestions for
planting, and you’ll have to test them out to see what works best for you.
If you’re looking to follow “the rules”
of garden spacing, I highly recommend looking into square foot gardening. I’ve found that SF Gardeners follow the
playbook pretty closely and swear by it.
They have everything covered from plant spacing to soil mixes for the
ultimate growing experience. In other
words, someone did their homework. I’d
done some reading into it myself after several gardeners convinced me that it
was “The Way”. And in some aspects, it
was. If you’re working with smaller
spaces and want to really cram as much as you can in there, by all means, give
it a go. In my experience, SFG showed me
just how closely you can place certain plants (for example, I’d always given
peppers more room than they needed and wound up with a lot of wasted space),
but for others I felt like it was just too cramped. Also, if you like clean lines, neat rows, and
order in your garden, this might be the plan for you. I planted a garden two years ago that did not stray from the rules and didn’t care for it overall, so now I use the
spacing rules loosely, and focus more on crop rotation and companion planting
as my methods of choice.
You’d asked about indeterminate tomatoes. SFG will have you allow 2 square feet per
plant, which sounds completely asinine, and frankly, it is. Unless you’re going to prune your plants back
to force them to stay within this space, it’s just not enough room. I wound up with a huge mess, more fruit loss
than I care to admit, and so much unnecessary work when it came time to take
the garden down in the fall. That’s not
to say that SFG failed me, but rather, my pruning theories didn’t match what is
required for this type of gardening. With
tomatoes, I feel like you can never give them enough space, but I guess that
all depends on how you prune. Do you
remove suckers? Do you allow the plants
to just take over all willy nilly like?
I start off with good intentions and prune in the beginning, but once
those plants start taking off and producing fruit, I tend to leave them alone,
adding support as the plants get bigger.
I fertilize with egg shells, ground dried banana peel, Epsom salts, and
a large fish head in the planting hole.
This sends the plant into overdrive, making for massive, towering
monsters like I’d never seen before, and more fruit than I knew what to do with. Last year, I had two indeterminate plants in
a 4 x 8 bed (okay per SFG rules), and not only did they start growing into one
another, but they heaved soil out of the raised bed and began crawling across
my mulch path. This year I’ll plant one
tomato plant in that 4 x 8 bed, and maybe pop some basil in there, hoping for
So I guess what I’m getting at
is that you can follow the rules that someone else set up, but there are so
many variables in each gardener’s space and style that will determine the
success or failure of those methods. I’d mentioned companion planting
earlier on, and I really think this is more important than anything else. You’re looking to plant certain things
together, or keep certain plants apart based on their ability to attract or
repel insects, prevent disease, etc. I
find that I can ignore the SFG spacing rules on, say, basil planting, and kind
of cram them into a space that is shared with tomatoes. I’ve never had a problem with overcrowding,
and aside from the random hornworm invading the space, the basil keeps a lot of
other bugs and critters away. I am
guilty of breaking SFG rules and popping lots of flowers into the provided
growing space of my veggie garden in the hopes that they will attract
pollinators, and have never had a problem with that either. You could also take into consideration the
Native American “Three Sisters” method of pairing, say, beans, corn, and squash
planted closely together. The corn acts
as the trellis, allowing the beans to climb up its stalk, and the squash grows
beneath them, shading the ground and keeping weeds in check. This is a traditional method that is proven
to be effective. It’s all trial and error, and you have to
figure out what works best for you in your space.
So my short answer is this: give tomatoes and brassicas as much space as
you can afford (or be strict with pruning to keep their size in check), never crowd root veggies, but
allow yourself to take liberties with plants like peppers, herbs and climbers
(like cukes, beans, peas). I am guilty
of cramming a lot of these things into my growing space, and aside from the few
extra minutes I have to give up to ensure that everyone gets watered and weeded sufficiently, the only downside I’ve encountered is difficulty when harvesting. Densely planted plants hide fruit! Also remember that you can maximize spacing
by growing up via vertical trellising or plant in a triangular pattern instead
of squares, which allows you to put at least one more plant in any given space.I really hope this helps! If any other gardeners want to chime in, I’d
love to hear your input!
These two videos show you how to build yourself an aquaponics garden
that combines aquaculture (growing fish) with hydroponics (growing
plants in water). The garden works by creating a nitrogen cycle where
water is shared between a fish tank and a grow bed filled with
vegetables. Fish produce waste high in ammonia that is pumped into the
grow bed, where bacteria process the ammonia into an extremely rich
fertilizer high in nitrogen
Do you like organic gardening? Then you’ll appreciate this colorful and super helpful chart. It’s all about companion planting, an easy and effective permaculture technique that will help your vegetable garden flourish. The idea is that certain plants grow especially well together (and repel pests). Try it! You’ll probably become a convert to companion planting, like me.
This brilliant info-graphic gives some great tips to start growing vegetables. You might want to check about the months for planting listed for your zone, but the rest of the tips are relevant no matter where you live!
10 Things this Vegetable Growing Cheat Sheet will show you
When to plant
How far apart to plant seeds
What needs propagating
What needs to be in a greenhouse
What size pot to plant in
Distance to thin seedlings out to
Germination & maturation times
Which pests to look out for
What veg works best together
When to harvest!
Growing your own food instills a true sense of the value of food, and it’s not difficult. Large yards with plenty of sun can grow enough vegetables and herbs to significantly supplement your household needs, and even small homes and apartments can have herb pots.
Finally made it down the allotment the last two weekends, one sunny, one rainy! It was a lovely surprise to see the rhubarb had come up and the apple buds were starting to form, more of a surprise to find a full garlic bed we never planted. We moved the blackberry bush while still dormant, using some of our lovely home food waste compost. So much still to do though, we’ve made a pact we will be back next weekend.
Container gardening is an important aspect of any gardener’s life.
Whether you live in a place prone to harsh winters or enjoy a perfectly
temperate climate year round, it’s important to know how to plant a
container garden. They’re portable, beautiful, and can be customized any
way you like. You may be keeping a container garden inside your home,
outdoors on your patio, or even inside a home greenhouse, but the skills
required are all the same.
The best part about mastering the art of container gardening is that
you’ll be able to tend to your plants year-round, move them any time you
change your mind, and frame them exactly as you please. There’s nothing
quite like seeing your favorite plant or flower in a pot that you
chose, positioned in your favorite spot. There’s also nothing like the
satisfaction of knowing you did it yourself!
Step 1: Select a large Container
First, you should select a large container in order to hold as much compost as possible.
Step 2: Submerge into Water
Next, you completely submerge each plant’s roots in a bucket of water in
order to fully hydrate the root bulb. Mr. Cooke assures us that this
method will revive even the droopiest of plants.
Step 3: Remove Pots
After each plant is properly hydrated, remove the pots and nestle them
into the container (already filled about halfway with compost), ensuring
that the top of each pot is level with the top of the container.
Step 4: Fill With Compost
Fill the voids around the empty pots with more compost, ensuring that
you completely cover every side of every pot. However, you do not want
to fill the container with compost all the way to the top. Leave a
little space so that the water can fully penetrate down to the roots.
Shake the pot to settle the compost.
Step 5: Rotate Each Pot
Finally, gently rotate each pot as you remove it and plant your intended plant in the vacant space.
And there you have it- a method for quick container gardening, courtesy of Ian Cooke.
20 years ago (around abouts) my granparents (ma and pa) moved to an old school lot, it was abandoned and held barely any vegetation. Over the years ma and pa, turned this place into a garden wonderland. (The photos will never do it justice) and I’m so proud to know people capable at coexisting the way these two do!