Homegrown Harvest Q&A Thursday Live!

Thursday – May 23, 2019

Every Thursday live on Instagram @homegrown_harvest answers questions from followers about gardening and sustainable living. If you have any questions you would like answered, we would love to help out. Send your questions to info@homegrownharvest.com.

I am worried about my newly planted seeds washing away in these torrential rains. What can I do?

  • Put a light layer of pine straw as a mulch to help hold things in place and diffuse the heavy water.

My compost this spring didn’t seem ready. I have a black plastic box. I was ill this winter and didn’t turn the lawn mowed leaves from last fall. I put in some organic compost starter to get it moving. Does my compost need to be as broken down as what comes in the bags to spread in the garden?

The short answer is yes it should look like what comes out of the bag if you were to buy it. Compost is ready when it looks dark brown in color, feels like rich crumbly earth, and smells like rich earth. It should not smell like rotting vegetables – nor should you be able to recognize any kitchen scraps or garden refuse.

It’s important that your compost is ready since it does contain substances which can be damaging to plants such as acids and pathogens which need to go through the complete process of decomposition to be safe to use.  Plus, nitrogen and oxygen are used during the process and would not be available for the plants use if the soil is still using it to decompose matter.

Hot piles require regular turning – which may be one reason your compost didn’t’ seem ready since you were sick. Also since you didn’t add your mowed trimmings you may have not had the regular balance you always have of nitrogen to carbon (greens to browns) which also effect the rate of decomposition. Composting requires the right balance of carbons to nitrogen (brown matter to green matter). 2:1 carbon to nitrogen for hot composting and 3:1 carbon to nitrogen for cold composting.

Screen your mulch and pick out large things that haven’t decomposed that take a long time like avocado pits and corn cobs – throw then back in to the compose – they will eventually break down

Last year my basil was three feet tall. This year I can’t get it to grow at all. Good irrigated soil, same location. I do see some tiny holes in lower leaves. Any suggestions?

You may have a soil borne disease building up in your soil.  Although herbs are not as susceptible to soil borne diseases like other vegetables, we recommend rotating herbs along with your other crops. Also like other crops, herbs will benefit from having some fresh compost put in the area where it’s to be planted. Pruning your basil also helps it to thrive.

You can watch our Homegrown Harvest Live videos on our new YouTube Channel and this episode which aired May 23, 2019.

Homegrown Harvest Live Q&A Thursday

Welcome to Homegrown Harvest Live Q&A Thursday! Every Thursday at 2pm, Mark and Xine answer questions related to gardening or sustainable living from followers during their live podcast aired on Instagram @homegrown_harvest

Daphne from Connecticut – Zone 6b asks “How do you take care of a Ranunculus Mache Pastel flowers? Am I supposed to prune this thing, how often do I water it, do I planted into the ground?

Tecolote Ranunculus – incredibly bold colors, make for great cut flowers with extended vase life. They need bright sun, rich soil and light watering – if planted needs to be in well drained area

In zones 8 and warmer they can be planted in the fall. In zone 7 and colder, plant bulbs in the springtime or plant in containers.

When choosing a container, you always need to be sure to pick the right size container for the plant you are growing. For ranunculus bulbs leave 3- 4 inches between the bulbs, and plant 2” deep in the container. Once there is no threat of a frost put the container outside in a sunny spot.

Ranunculus are perennials in warm climates zone 8 and higher; whereas zone 7 and lower the plant acts as an annual, so you have to start over the following spring with new bulbs

As a cut flower they can last up to 10 days!

Kristin from Connecticut – zone 6 writes in that she mulches her garden beds and the property slopes downward. What is the best mulch that will stay put in heavy rains?

All mulches will float and wash away in a flood but some stay put better than others. Pine straw is highly recommended since the needles entwine and it help it stay put better than wood chips or bark nuggets which float off onto the lawn. Shredded bark or wood is good, something with pieces that tangle and hold onto one another. 

Ideally if you can edge your garden with something high enough to hold the mulch in place – stones, wood that helps. You can also use other plants plie monkey grass of hostas or a type of ground cover as a protective border to keep the mulch in. Trenching a 3- 4” deep moat around the bed will help geep the mulch from floating off. 

The Idaho Dept of Environmental Quality recommends that mulches that as meant to last longer than 3 months on slopes steeper than 50% – you use straw or hay held in place by netting. And they don’t recommend using wood chips if the slope is steeper than 6%, because they wash away.

Kristin, I would use pine straw and depending on your slope possibly throw some netting down and tack it down with landscape fabric stakes.

Carolyn from Connecticut asks what is the best time to prune ones rose bushes?

The trick about pruning is timing since if you do it too soon, you run the risk of having new growth stimulated during a warm spell which could be killed later by a freeze.  Prune too late and your plant misses the spring bloom.  So how do you know?

One trick is if you live in an area where there are forsythias -wait until the forsythias are in bloom. Forsythias only bloom when the soil temperature is 55° of warmer in the first 6 inches of soil depth – this is a natural indicator that it’s the perfect time to prune your roses.  If you don’t live in an area where there are forsythias – early spring after the last frost in colder climates, when they start to bud or leaf out. If you have a soil thermometer again you are looking for 55°.

Healthy Soil and It’s Importance in the Garden


What Makes Food Nutritious?

Did you ever stop and wonder what exactly makes our food nutritious?  Not delicious, but nutrient-rich.  Some people may believe that what makes food nutritious comes from the seed when in fact it comes from the soil.

There are 17 elements that all plants need in order to go through to have a successful life cycle. Hydrogen (H), carbon (C) and oxygen (O), plants get through the air and water; leaving 14 elements that are critical for plants to obtain through soil1. However, soil alone may not be enough and there is usually a need for added fertilizers, manures and other amendments to make sure plants receive the right nutritional elements.


Since soil is a key element when growing plants and particularly vegetables, building a raised garden bed can help gardeners start off right by beginning with a pristine soil mixture. Starting a raised garden bed allows gardeners the ability to establish a foundation with a well-balanced, nutrient-rich, weed-seed free growing medium without having to go through the backbreaking work involved with starting and maintained an in-ground garden.  In-ground gardening requires plenty of soil testing, tilling and hoeing – all very laborious and time-consuming work.  Versus starting a raised bed garden where you are able to control the growing environment from the very beginning by creating a blend of composts, fertilizers, manures and amendments.

For many years, when Mark and I first began Homegrown Harvest, we started many raised

garden beds for our clients with a mixture of composts, peat moss and vermiculite. The composts are the key ingredient, delivering the nutrients to your plants. Some composts can be nitrogen rich having come solely from dried grass clippings and leaves from the yard. Compost ideally should be a well-balanced.  Some local towns and municipalities offer their residents free compost, or there are services in certain areas where they will come pick up your compostables and in exchange will give you bags of compost for your garden or to donate to others.  Compost pick up services make it so easy for people to compost by taking all the messy and time-consuming work out of the equation. All the client needs to do is sort their garbage properly.  A quick Google search should help you locate one in your area. Consider yourself lucky if you do live in an area that has pick up compost service; thankfully there is more and more demand out with more people understanding we need to live more sustainable lifestyles.  What I love about compost pick up services is that it makes it possible for many people who may not have the space to compost to be able to cut down their carbon footprint and live more sustainable lifestyles.

Ingredients needed to Compost

If you don’t have a source for local compost there are plenty of options at either the big retail stores like Home Depot or Lowe, as well as your local garden center. One of our favorites products to use along with bagged composts or our homemade compost is Master’s Choice Bumper Crop:

“Bumper Crop Organic Soil Amendment is a soil building blend of manure and high organic nutrient content of shellfish compost, dark, rich earthworm castings (adds minerals and biology), kelp, peat, aged bark, and lobster – inoculated with endo and ecto michorrizal fungi to improve root function. The lobster body provides a lot of Nitrogen, and the shells breakdown to release a lot of Calcium, the #1 ingredients that plants need. Bumper Crop Organic Soil Amendment is an all-purpose, pre-fertilized planting and garden soil amendment. This product excels as a nutrient rich top dressing and mulch.”

Each time a plant grows, blossoms and fruits, the nutrients from the compost is delivered to the plant and the subsequent fruit.  Plenty of times we will do succession planting where we will plant something else into a space that had been used previously. For instance, once early crops of lettuces, broccoli and the like have been harvested an empty space will be left.  Usually we will plant in that same space something else to follow it up but before we do so we always add back in some fresh compost. Remember the used area has been depleted of its nutrients from the harvest plants, so it must be replaced in order to deliver the needed elements for the next plants to complete their life cycle.

Step by step guide to Gardening

Understanding soil is important not only for being able to grow your own fresh, nutrient rich fruits and vegetables but also vital to understanding more about the fruits and vegetables we buy in our grocery stores from mass-produced farms. I have written about soil before many years ago on this blog in a post called The Importance of soil – our lives depend on it! where I go into more in depth detail about soil. Our country has been in a crisis of ongoing soil degradation for decades.  Perhaps the words “dust bowl” conjures up images from a John Steinbeck novel; however, in present day America, our farmlands have taken a beating from mono-cropping and the addition of synthetic fertilizers in efforts to replace the depleted nutrients.  Unfortunately, these synthetic additives have made more of a problem for farmers. Fortunately, there are things that farmers can and have started to do to help rebuild our soil. Check out the PSA from Astronomer Laura Danly

Source:

It’s February! What Should I do in My Garden?

Is it too soon to start?

NH Zone MapIt’s about this time of year when people in cold snowy areas begin to start to yearn for warmer winds of spring. Depending upon what zone you live in you could still have inches of snow and ice on the ground like we do here in central New Hampshire, Zone 5b. The weather here has been sort of wacky, this morning we sat out on our deck with the gas fire on since it was 42 degrees up here, whereas the other morning, here at 1500 ft where we live on the side of a mountain is 24 degrees but down in town apparently its much colder prompting a wintry mix precipitation according to Accuweather. They just sent me an alarm telling me is 4 degrees. Not according to my weather station which is mounted on our garden fence. An atmospheric inversion or temperature inversion is when there is a reversal of normal behavior of temperature in the troposphere. That’s the region of the atmosphere closest to the earth’s surface. So, when there is an inversion the cool air closer to the earth’s surface is trapped by a layer of warmer air. Usually the air temp decreases with height. One night in the fall we were invited to our neighbor’s house for dinner. We drove over in our John Deere gator since their house is only a mile away and it was a nice evening. Upon leaving we could feel the chilly night air which got much colder upon speeding our way home in the windshield-less gator. However, once we began to ascend our very steep driveway, we were hit with a wall of warm air – at least 10 degrees difference. It was a similar sensation to when you enter a building in the city with hot air blowers blasting towards the door after coming in from the cold.

Revamp Your Garden
The groundhog has been out and told us the news of 6 more weeks of winter though – dashing some hopes of an early spring.  The occasional thaws are welcomed teases. I’ve noticed the bird activity outside has picked up- hoping that is also a sign that we are getting closer. The daylight is lasting longer which always helps brighten anyone’s day. But right now, as I still stare out my kitchen window at my garden, there is still snow piled up a foot deep in most areas. This week’s promised warm temperatures should melt most if not all of the snow. 

Thank god for John Deere
stone wall and bricks removed

Our garden this year is brand new for us. We spent a good portion of last year taking out the previous owner’s garden since the beds were made from rotting out birch logs that must have looked beautiful the first years but were crumbling and inviting unwanted pests. I decided to start from scratch – rip out everything and begin with a blank slate.  The old garden had old brick paths that were uneven and crumbling, so we took those out. Thank goodness for our John Deere tractor which made some of the heavier work possible without breaking anyone’s back. We had to take out small rock walls here and there that had to come out for a number of reasons, one of which was they were constructed incorrectly and had plywood for the backsides. Don’t ask. I was shocked to discover this as anyone.

bricks and old beds removed

So it’s mid-February and you are yearning to get started with your garden. If you are lucky enough to live somewhere that’s not snow covered then it’s time to get outside and clean up old beds – or take them apart like I did this time last year.  Look around – do any of your raised garden beds need any repair work? Is there any bowing? Late winter/early spring is a great time to do this work since weeds haven’t popped up and you really get to see the bare bones of things during this time of year.  Plus you don’t sweat as much since it’s cooler out.


If you are thinking about starting a new garden – walk around the area you are thinking about – take measurements. Remember to consider the sunlight when picking an area for your garden. This is very important when planning a vegetable garden. You need an area that gets at least 6 to 8 hours of full, unobstructed sunlight to grow successful tomatoes or peppers. Take advantage of warmer days that come your way by getting outside – cleaning up and organizing the garden shed. Winter’s leaves have a way of sneaking their way into nooks and crannies in and around the shed or garden beds. Get the rake or blower out and start tidying up – add the leaves to your compost pile.

Seeds
February is the time to order the seeds you may need. Don’t wait to order your seed potatoes

Seed tape and packets

or strawberries as well as a few other popular veggies, as these have a way of selling out. I have been guilty of waiting and then not getting my first choice.  If you have never grown potatoes, I highly recommend it! Once you have grown your own potatoes, buying a grocery store potato is just not the same. I like to get my seeds from Territorial Seed Company and Park Seed Company. Park Seed is known for having a great germination rate!


Seed Viability
February is also a good time to look at your seeds you may have collected from previous years. Seeds are alive, so they don’t last forever.  Luckily there is an easy way to test your seeds to see if they will germinate our not. It’s simple and easy to do, just follow these steps.

Step 1: Dampen a paper towel. Soggy but not dripping wet.
Step 2: Take seeds you want to test [10 of each] and arrange separately on the damp paper towel.
Step 3: Label your seeds with a Sharpie marker so you don’t mix up your different varieties.
Step 4: Roll up the towel or place a second paper towel on top of the seeds to create a damp environment around the seed.
Step 5: Put the towel with the seeds in a plastic bag, seal and set aside in a warm place.

Germination depends on the seed variety you are testing and can range from 2 to 14 days. You should spritz the paper towel with water for seeds that take longer, keeping it damp. Drying out will stop the germination process.

Step 6: When the seeds sprout count how many sprouted from each seed variety. Compare this number to the number of seeds that did not sprout and you have the germination rate.

1 seed sprouts = 10% germination rate
5 seeds sprout = 50% germination rate
10 seeds sprout = 100% germination rate

The higher the germination rate, the better!

Once your seeds have sprouted you can either plant them in a small container to transplant later when the time is right or if it is the right time of the season to directly seed into the ground – go for it! Or you can always compost them.  Seeds when properly stored can be kept viable for years. So try to always keep them in a cool, dry place.

Seed starting

February is a great time to start some of your seeds indoors. Back in our old home I used to have a room I could set up with a couple of grow lights and have trays and trays and trays of seeds started. The new house isn’t set up for me to do that but I can still start a few seeds on the south facing windowsill. I love seeing a seed go through the process of growth from sprout to strong fruit bearing plant that yields delicious treats such as tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. It amazes me each and every time.


Spring will be here sooner than you think when it comes to your garden. One day it’s February, the next it’s Mother’s Day and then it’s June and the kids are out of school. I remember what it was like when the kids were younger; they are all grown adults now, so life is much different now. Now I have more time to focus on my garden; then, I was running around from practice to practice, appointment to appointment. Life revolved around them. They were in high school when we turned our backyard into a vegetable growing oasis, gone were the swing set and lacrosse nets and backboards. Soon we had over 300 sq feet of growing area and used every raised bed that Homegrown Harvest sells. We wanted to be able to say we had tested everything for ourselves. Mark and I have not only installed dozens of raised garden beds over the last 5 years but cared and maintained scores of them and other gardens. So we know what can and will go wrong in a garden over time. 

Involving the kids in gardening is not only helpful for you but teaches them a valuable skill that they can develop as they grow and have their own families.  It can be time well spent away from the electronics that children and adults find suck up most of their time. I’m thankful for the time I spent outside with my kids in the garden. I am happy that they had a chance to learn about growing your own food and all the wonderful delicious vegetables there are in this world that can be grown right out your own back door. Lord knows how fast and precious time is spent with our children.

Enjoy your garden and remember:

A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference.”  A. A. Milne

A Bittersweet Time in the Garden

I came to love my rows, my beans, though so many more than I wanted. They attached me to the earth, and so I got strength like Antaeus.~ Henry David Thoreau

Just as the Farmer’s Almanac called it, this autumn has been on the milder side. It’s not to say we haven’t experienced our first light frost – that happened the weekend of October 17th and 18thand again the other night. Having Mother Nature remind you of the impending change of the season during a warm autumn can shock crops – depending upon what’s still in the garden and what you have done to prepare for extending the season and fighting a little frost.

Peppers ripening on the counter

The beautiful autumnal colors of reds, oranges and yellows sprinkled through the beds in the form of tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and marigolds up until mid-October. At that point we decided to harvest the tomatoes and let them ripen indoors. We always choose to do this at the end of the season for 2 reasons: 1. Tomatoes will continue to ripen off the vine and 2. Too many people, including us have left them out too long and Jack Frost has nipped them and that’s that.  This year due to the cool temperatures throughout the summer we still had tons of hot peppers fully developed but had not yet changed from their green color.  It’s not as well known, as there is some debate depending on what you read, as to whether you can finish ripening green peppers to their colorful counterparts once it has been picked. I had always thought that you could not do this; however, I have discovered that peppers that have started to change colors can be picked and they will continue to ripen of  But I have also read that as long as they are mature in size, given time, green peppers will finish ripening off the plant, according to Big Stone Bounty.
f the plant.

tomatoes ripening in bins


We’ve known this about tomatoes but not peppers – this good info. Of course, pulling any fruit off the plant before fully ripened results in lower nutritional content and they aren’t as sweet as their fully ripened counterparts, but I think anything from your own garden is way better than from anywhere else. Plus I usually only do this at the end of the season when I am worried about impending frost.

Peppers ripening in a bag with tomatoes

I’ve also read a lot of conflicting data about whether or not peppers react to ethylene gas or not. Ethylene gas helps stimulate the ripening process in many fruits including tomatoes. I’m currently conducting my own experiment to see if the peppers I put in the paper bag with the ripe tomato and ripening tomatoes accelerates the process of ripening the green peppers vs the ones one the counter on a dish. We have so many green tomatoes that I have been using unused earthworm bins that have holes on the bottom to layer the green tomatoes so they can ripen. The aeration helps the process. All the cherry tomatoes are in three bins and then I have a platter full of standard-sized heirloom tomatoes stacked up.


Cold frame is up

There can be so much to do to get ready for winter, particularly if we get a winter as snowy as last year. Once again the Farmer’s Almanac Winter Forecast confirms our fears that we could be in for a doozy. To finish readying the garden beds for winter, we need to be sure any remaining tender crops have all been weeded out and pull any weeds that may have crept in over the summer.  By doing so we remove any possibility of leaving behind vegetation which may add to the promotion of disease. We put a cold frame over part of one bed where we are currently growing some broccoli – our broccoli in the past has been attached so I tend to cover it up to provide a little added TLC to give it more of a chance. We put another cold frame upon a bed of lettuce, carrots and arugula.  The hay/straw mulch still needs to be put down and I need to gather some pine needles for the asparagus bed.  


Yesterday during a break from the computer, I went out and pulled the entire bed of remaining bean, cucumber and morning glory vines.  All of which will be dumped in the woods since I worry about the morning glory seeds taking over.  In a few days I’ll harvest some more herbs – the mint, rosemary, sage and thyme should be trimmed back – as should the oregano.  I will leave some long and wild for the birds and bees to continue to enjoy. There won’t be too many days left where the weather will allow me to be outside and to me there is nothing better than working out in the garden.

3.5 inches of much needed rain
Asparagus ferns

It rained 3.5 inches yesterday and last night – we desperately need it. It’s why I ran outside the day before to deal with the vines since I knew I’d be stuck inside to deal with computer work and filing if the weather reports were right.  There is nothing I rather do less than file, which is apparent since I am finding statements from 2011 in the pile.  The spare garlic, shallots and onions I managed to plant in some containers and the remainder of the two beds I had planted some in last week. We use a ton of all three when we cook and buying them – particularly shallots – can be expensive; so there is nothing better than growing your own.  At this point the garden is ready for it hay/straw mulch in some beds.  I’m still waiting a little while longer before cutting the asparagus shoots down to 2- 3″ and mulching; their ferns are just turning a yellowish brown but most remain green still.  Once we cut them down we’ll mulch with as many pine needles as we can rake up from under our own trees and top off with the hay/straw mulch we use to protect the freshly cut tops from the wind and frost.


Our Brussels sprouts are still coming along – its our first year growing them so there is a learning curve. We had some pests eat away at the leaves at one point during the summer but we planted enough that we only really only lost one to the pests – the rest now have started to sprout their little sprouts which it fun to see. The end of the season list continues with dumping the new compost into the the 12 foot bed we had to empty thanks to the morning glory infestation.  We need to throw down some new compost in a few containers as well before putting the straw/hay mulch down. 

It’s a bittersweet time of year for us. We have worked in our garden as well as in our clients’ gardens all season. Preparing soil, seeding, planting, staking and supporting, watering, feeding, weeding, waiting, watching nature do what she does so well – grow, thrive, produce, feed.  It’s the most satisfying feeling in the world, helping people grow their own food.  But alas, all seasons must come to an end and our business, Homegrown Harvest is coming to the end of our third growing season.  We were thrilled the other day to receive photos from one of client’s boasting about their garden.  It’s the best feeling in the world when you have one of your clients send you pictures of her garden thriving or her standing there with a Cheshire cat grin holding a huge platter of homegrown vegetables. We are truly blessed!

As the season winds down we can take solace knowing that the garden may be still but underneath the soil, wonderful things are taking shape to fill our palates next season. 

The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul. ~Alfred Austin


If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal – that is your success. All nature is your congratulations, and you have cause momentarily to bless yourself. ~ Henry David Thoreau

Succession Planting – a great way to extend your season

It is that time in the season when temperatures begin to rise, produce starts ripening and parts of our garden have emptying spaces. The previous soil tenants of lettuce, kale and cabbage have been harvested; and soon we will be pulling the garlic we planted last fall and other onions that overwintered as well. We are just finishing collecting all that can be harvested from the spring peas. At the start of the season, I planted a variety of Sugar Ann, Oregon Sugar Pod II and Mammoth Melting Snow Peas. We’ve enjoyed snacking on these yummy treats for a couple months now and I just gave a quart sized bag filled to the brim to the kids who will enjoy snacking on them during their camping trip this week.

As I look out upon the garden from my desk, the garden looks quiet right now. The rain a few minutes ago made all the birds head for cover. We’ve had more than a few birds feed on the kale and cabbage that I let go to seed. There are also a few heads of lettuce that I let go to seed as well. I decided to let some stuff go to seed for two reasons: curiosity and laziness. I’ll address the latter reason first. At the time the kale and cabbage started to go to seed we were very busy installing and planting our clients’ gardens. I was too tired and basically lazy to pull it out when it started to bolt. Curiosity got the better of me once I had watched a video about collecting seed from kale plants and thought it I should try it. Collecting seeds from produce that you grew can be incredibly satisfying however depending upon the variety will determine how easy or difficult it can be. Collecting seeds from tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, eggplant tends to be easier than collecting from green leafy vegetables. It is a little bit more involved and a topic for another blog.

julyIt’s hard to believe that it could be July 15th already; but there is still plenty of time to be able to seed quick growing crops in most zones. I don’t think many people realize that there is even plenty of time to sow seeds for certain vegetables that will give you a late-summer or an early autumn harvest. Here in Zone 6 by mid-July you can transplant your June started seedlings or starts bought from a local nursery for brassicas like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. However, if you were going to direct seed right into the garden bed there’s plenty more options available. Certain varieties work better than others when seeding this time of year. Varieties of spinach like Avon, Tyee and Indian Summer are all quick growers that are vigorous, high-yielding and have superb flavor all four seasons of the year. When looking for varieties, I look for quick growers that take under 50 days. As of today with 15 weeks left until November 1, that’s 105 days – it’s important to remember when you are seeding directly into your garden bed to add two weeks to the time to allow for germination and slower growth in fall.

After seeding it may be a good idea use a row cover to protect the freshly seeded area from the hot summer sun and wind.

Seeed carrots
Newly seeded carrots that germinated

Here in Zone 6, I still have time in from now until the end of the month to sow bush beans, carrots, radishes, beets, kohlrabi, turnips, kale, peas as well nasturtiums to add more color to the garden since they only take a quick 10 days to germinate.

 One of the most important and sometime overlooked thing to remember when sowing seeds during the mid-summer is always add compost to the area that you’re about to sow your seeds. By adding compost you are replenishing the nutrients that were depleted from the crop that you previously harvested. Food gets their nutrients from the soil and it’s very important to understand that once the crop is been harvested that compost needs to be introduced back to the soil to replenish the depleted nutrients.

The more food we grow, the more flavors we are exposed to, and the more vitamins and minerals are actually in our food.  Win-win-win!

“Pulling weeds and pickin’ stones
Man is made from dreams and bones.
Feel the need to grow my own
‘Cause the time is close at hand.
Grain for grain, sun and rain
Find my way in nature’s chain.
To my body and my brain
To the music from the land.”

– The Garden Song written by David Mallett

girl_planted_seeds

Speaking about Organic Gardening

It’s been a whirlwind of new year for us at Homegrown Harvest. You wouldn’t think the dead of winter would be a busy time of year for a couple of gardeners, but it has been.

We’ve been putting together a new lecture series on organic gardening. A few months ago, I was asked by a friend to come speak at her volunteer organizations’ opening meeting.  I’d never been asked to speak – although Mark and I had talked about the idea earlier in our IMG_1039organizational days of beginning Homegrown Harvest- so I agreed.  I decided to do a talk on the whys and hows of healthy eating – why you should grow food and not lawns.  It was going to be the first time I was ever in front of an audience of people who wouldn’t fail the class for being absent. I had never ever given given a talk or lead a discussion like this before. High school, in front of a few Trinity classmates perhaps was the last time I did anything remotely close to this. In college at BU,  I made sure to stay away from speaking opportunities, the exception being in my photography class where they made you get up and present your photo before a firing squad as your “peers”.  Okay perhaps they didn’t riddle my work with bullet holes but each comment felt like a slap in the face of humiliation at at the time.

My years working for my brother in the hedge fund industry taught me how to put together presentations, so sitting down and writing out the discussions has proven to be a cathartic activity for me, reinforcing my beliefs in organic land care management.   It was a moment of clarity brought on my Dennis Hopper and an Ameritrade ad that helped me diverge from following my brother’s path any further and create my own.  My work on the Hows and Why of Healthy Eating turned into 52 slides filled with vegetable facts, flowers and photography with given some animation. Hours and days of numerous edits , dry runs with more edits and more dry runs in my living room with my laptop, projector, screen and audience of five four footed friends of mine.

Finally, the day arrived. with about 40 women attended the September meeting of the National Charity League that morning and my despite the fact it was to be my virgin takeoff into the world of public speaking – I was relatively calm and not afraid to stand up in front of a bunch of strangers.  Instead I found myself to be excited by the possible opportunity public speaking could lead to for Homegrown Harvest.  Afterwards many people came up to me to tell me how much they learned and enjoyed my talk. One used the word ‘inspired’ to describe how they felt afterwards – the best compliment I could ever hope to ever receive and it has given me more confidence to go forward.

I decided shortly after that lecture that perhaps I would approach the New Canaan Library with the idea for a Spring Garden Series.  They recently started up a seed bank so I though it would be a natural tie in for us as a local vegetable gardening business.  It seemed a much better way for us to get out message out to people that healthy home vegetable gardening doesn’t have to be difficult and the healthy rewards you reap are beyond comparison.

Mark and I consider ourselves to be garden coaches – why not? People have life coaches, sports coaches, spiritual coaches. We don’t just sell you a product and walk away. We help you as much or as little as you want. Many people are too busy to get things up and started or don’t know how or where to begin.  We help teach and guide people in the process – making it easier for them to enjoy all the healthy benefits that go along with growing their own harvests.

Before the end of 2014, I had the privilege again to be asked by another volunteer organization, the New Canaan Beautification League to wanted me to come talk to them at their February meeting. They asked me to do a Garden to Table talk – oh and by the way – we’d like to video tape it if you don’t mind and put in on our public access channel CH79 New Canaan! Videotape? Um? Okay…

What had I agreed to?  I’ve never been videotaped except in home movies and those are not anything to be shared! So now I am going to be on TV? Um, that heightened the nerves a bit. So now I had to come up with a cohesive presentation that made sense talking to fellow gardeners about setting up a vegetable garden and the inspiration it en-vibes on your meals.

At the recommendation of a good friend of mine, I decided to take an online Dale Carnegie class on public speaking.  I’ve been to a number of lectures and presentations in my professional career, where the speaker went off on tangents, jumped around in their thoughts and slides – leaving my confused just wanting to take the handouts to figure everything out for myself later.  I certainly don’t want to be one of those types of speakers.

There is tons of information you hope to share with your audience but its crucial to not give too much which could overload and just confuse matters.  I find when I sit down to start one of these presentations that I want to tell a story. The overall point being that we can all enjoy growing some of our own food and by doing so reap the multiple rewards that vegetable gardening brings to our bodies and our souls.

Our local library loved the idea of doing a spring gardening series and we set up two dates in February and two more in April. March was off limits as the town does a one book, one town sort of things and everything revolves around that in March.  So our first two discussions in February I decided to focus on organic small space gardening dividing the discussions into two; focusing the first on container gardening. February can be a brutal month, and this year has been a doozy! This morning temperature was 14 degrees which has warmed up from the at zero and below zero days we’ve been experiencing here in Connecticut.

IMG_1640The first program 28 registrants signed up for the free lecture – 12 brave soles showed up. The weather had been snowy earlier and bitter cold, proving too challenging even those with cabin fever to start thinking about spring gardening.  Tomorrow we have our second installment in the Spring Series – we have put together a discussion on the organic benefits of building a polyculture garden. A polyculture is an organic method that brings in variety to the garden, breaking up the monoculture, in turn helping to deter disease and bad bug infestation simultaneously adding health, beauty and color to the garden.  The weather is still frigid but clear and bright with a newly developed threat of snow later in the afternoon that hopefully will not keep people from coming out to enjoy learning about the vast benefits of growing your food efficiently and effectively through intensive planting.

Time to Dream and Plan

heirloom onthe plantIt’s 5 degrees out this morning here in our neck of the woods.  It’s even colder where some of the kids are up at college like Burlington where it’s -18 right now and 4 degrees in Ithaca feeling like minus 4.  In Boston where our other one is at it’s 5 degrees but the winds up there are making it feel more like 10 below. Brrrr…it is cold out there today. It’s around this time of year that we start to jones for one of our homegrown heirloom tomatoes. Thank god weIMG_0007 made sauce at least. The garden is covered with a thick quilt of hard-packed snow about 20 inches deep burying our overwintering vegetables and Charlie the gnome.

The new year has brought us a new Sears Craftsman riding lawn tractor. We decided to get the snow blower attachment so we could us the things year round – mowing and mulching during the summer, snow blowing now.  We’ve already had the pleasure of clearing the driveway 6 times in the last month – quickly making back some money on our investment. Making me think we should have done this a long time ago.

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Right off the truck before the snow

Getting to know the ins and outs of snow blowing our own driveway has had it’s ups and downs but nothing that hasn’t been resolved quickly.  Day one, Mark threw a pin trying to clear a path to the garbage shed – not to self watch the  natural rock wall on the left hand side of the path.  Day two I’m clearing the front of the driveway by the mailbox when Ruby – yes we’ve named her – decides to stop throwing snow and emit a slight burnt rubber smell.  Thankfully, that too was fixable although not sure exactly why it happened – the belt to the auger seemed to have stretched or the cable did…regardless Mark was able to trouble shoot and we were back to throwing more snow in no time. According to the groundhog, we have 6 more weeks of winter so it will be a while before we get to take the snow thrower attachment off and put the lawn mower deck on the bottom.

On frigid cold days like these where Jack Frost is nipping more than just the nose; it’s best to stay inside and grab one of the many seed catalogs that have been pouring into the mailbox last month.  I’ve been really busy preparing for a number of lectures on the schedule for February, just finishing the first one this past Wednesday.

GardenToTableI gave a Garden to Table presentation to the members of the New Canaan Beautification League at the New Canaan Nature Center.  There is a lot of material to cover when you want to paint a picture for an audience of why and how they can grown some of their own delicious food. So much material that the next programs I have coming up is actually a 4 part spring garden series where I can go more in depth to areas like composting, setting up polycultures, and container gardening.  The spring garden series will be hosted by the New Canaan Library which I am really excited to being working with. Our library has recently set up a new Seed Bank – so I am excited at the possibilities going forward that there is an increasing interest in edible gardening locally.

I’ve lived in my town for the last twenty years, raising my kids and working for my brother most of that time, but volunteering in my community is ways like coaching girls lacrosse. My fiance and business partner, Mark has been an EMT at our volunteer ambulance corp – NCVAC for past two years. The members of the Beautification League volunteer to their time to helping keep our pretty little village looking it’s best via working with nature. Volunteering has always been a big part of my life. When I was a teenager. my mother was at one point the President of the YWCA of New York City. She had started at the Y as a volunteer coordinator and her work ethic and passion for the place propelled her to president at lightening speed. The woman knew how to make things happen.

Volunteering is a wonderful way to give back to a community or organization you feel passionate about. It’s a great way to get out and meet like minded people who enjoy similar passions. I purposely use the word ‘volunteering’ as opposed to ‘community service’ because at some point in today’s world, the legal system has dished out ‘community service’ to many making it sound more like a penalty than something that can be very rewarding for the volunteer, them-self. It’s a shame that to a generation of children the words ‘community service’ doesn’t sound like something you would want to do but have to do.

In the gardening world, ‘volunteers’ means something different than people giving of their time to do something for free. Instead when you hear a gardener refer to a ‘volunteer’ they are referring to a specific plant that wasn’t purposely seeded but successfully growing where ever its seed lay.  Last summer we had a number of ‘volunteers’ come up in our backyard and not all in our raised beds.  We had a couple tomato plants come up over in wood chipped area and two more in the raised beds – one in my designated 3 Sister beds and the other in my cabbage bed.  The ones in the raised beds fared better than the wood chipped areas – most likely since we had composted the beds and perhaps the wood chips reduced the ph too much for the tomato plants to fruit. The two plants in the wood chip grew pretty big – one just flowered but didn’t fruit, the other fruited but very late in the season and we only were able to take some of the cherry tomatoes off before they had a chance to ripen on the vine.  Conversely, the volunteers in the raised beds gave off a lot of fruit – both of those were also cherry tomato plants.

From our garden a beautiful snap pea begins to bloom.
A beautiful snap pea begins to bloom

I’m reminded of all this when I was preparing my presentation and was scanning my hundreds of photos of our garden and our client’s gardens.  The pictures get me thinking about the possibilities for this season.  What varieties should we plant this year?  Peas for certain will be among the first things, along with a variety of lettuce…The seed catalogs have sat untouched by me until just the other day.  I was afraid if I opened even one I would be too distracted to work on my Garden To Table presentation.  Later in the night, the day of the presentation, I finally cracked open my first bit of what we fondly refer to as garden porn.  Beautiful photographs of the most delicious looking fruits and vegetables are coupled with mouth-watering descriptions which causes you to have eyes bigger than your garden beds.

I was proud of myself, I didn’t go seed crazy and deliberately focused on edible flowers in as I checked out Annie’s Heirloom Seeds catalog and then also the strawberry starts – had to get those before they sell out like last year. Oh, then there is the potatoes – had to get some of Binje potatoes to try this year…Luckily I was exhausted form my day and that was all my tired eyes could handle at the time.

A few days have past since my seed binge and now we have these wicked cold temperatures outside, I think it’s the perfect time to start breaking out the paper and pen and start listing what we want grow this season.  I’ll need to check the cupboard where I keep our seed supply in neatly labeled plastic containers with pop-tops for one handed handling when out in the garden.  It took me a while to figure out the best way to save and keep seeds organized.  I like the plastic containers because they keep seeds dry and safe, whereas envelopes don’t reseal always and get wet and then compromise the seeds. Or land up at the bottom of your pockets, purse, garden bag, truck…

February is the best time to plan your garden – remember to consider crop rotations into your plan. Crop rotation is the practice of growing related vegetable families in different areas in consecutive years.  There are four plant families that benefit from crop rotation: the cabbage family, the carrot family, the cucumber & squash family and lastly, the tomato & eggplant family. Rotating these vegetable families will help prevent soil borne disease from building up and help keep and provides a principle mechanism for building healthy soils and organically controls pests.

When you plan things out on paper first it makes it a lot easier for to take into account things like crop rotations and companion planting. This way you can also makes sure that the proper companion plants are not only coupled together but the plants which should be kept away from one another will always stay away from one another.

One of many harvestsSo grab your hot beverage of choice and that stack of seed catalogs and enjoy dreaming about what can be. Fresh delicious harvests that will inspire most every meal!

If you are just starting a new garden and would like some ideas, I highly suggest looking at organic seed websites perhaps with your laptop or iPad or other mobile device to see the different types of delicious food you possibly could be growing in your backyard, porch or balcony. If you are in the Fairfield County, Connecticut area and need help you getting your garden started, please reach out for us to help at info@homegrownharvest.com – that’s what we do. Elsewhere, check your local listing for organic land care professionals that may help get you started. Here is the northeast we have NOFA – the Northeast Organic Farming Association but I am sure there are many regional organizations like NOFA which are committed to promoting and supporting organic land care practices.

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The Early April Garden

A tuckered out pup.
A tuckered out pup.

Spring has finally come to southwestern CT. It’s wet, cold and snowing one minute and sunny and warm the next!  We’ve been working in our garden as well as going to clients’ gardens these last couple of weeks – not letting the temperatures deter us too much. The telephone has been ringing with potential customers, internet inquiries have been coming in and our installation calendar is starting to get filled up. The gardening season is officially underway since the other day, we shoveled our first load of compost off the back of the truck.  My arms hurt so much that I am actually dictating this to Siri – thank you Siri, I will be sure not too mumble too much. My red-neck work-outs have begun. Just to give you a small hint of how hard we have been working, we managed to tire out our three month old puppy, Marley Sage.  Who know I had more energy than a puppy?

April is the time of year, if you haven’t done it already, to make a planning chart of your garden. The planning chart is basically a map of where you plan to put things in the garden.  It’s helpful to have a map so that you can couple things together that benefit one another, like tomato and basil; as well as keep away incompatibles such as beans and onions.  Seeing it all on paper will also help you to create a planting schedule telling you when you should plant certain crops. This is particularly helpful if you plan on using succession plantings throughout the season. Succession planting is simply following one crop with another crop maximizing your overall yield and elongating your season. I’ve been slowly making a plan in my head about what I want to grow but now is the time to start sitting down and writing out the plan. Once I’ve done ours I will be sure to post it – it’s still a work in progress at this point, which could be committed to paper over the weekend since I have to start planning out my clients’ gardens as well.  It’s important to keep in mind crop rotation, which is another good reason to write down a plan you can refer to the next season because life gives you enough to remember.

This month is also the time of year that you should be getting your raised beds prepared for the new season by amending the nutrient depleted soil with a variety of composts and fertilizer to put back the nutrients that your vegetables will need to grow.  Vegetables get their nutrients from the soil – think feed the soil – that’s how you feed the plant. Not by spraying chemical fertilizers on it.  Organic gardening revolves around the concept of soil life and soil biology. Organic practices such as crop rotation, use of cover crops, and companion planting are employed to enhance soil life and biology.  By using a plan, you ensure that you are not at risk of building up soil-borne diseases or mismanage the soil nutrients.

Despite the earlier snows this week, there is exciting news in the garden as the soil temperatures have finally reached into the mid 40s in the raised beds.  I couldn’t help but plant some peas on the last day of March in the new 8′ x 12′ Maine Kitchen Garden we put in this fall.  April in New England can be unpredicable. Temperatures can still be wintery cold – it was 42º but the dampness from the night’s rain made it feel closer to 35º. The soil temperatures have maintained 40º and above status all week and that tells me its the perfect time to start getting some cold crops into the ground.  Cold crops can tolerate colder temperatures and late frost.  Germination can happen for lettuce, arugula and peas

From our garden a beautiful snap pea begins to bloom.
From our garden a beautiful snap pea begins to bloom.

in 40º soil temperatures. If you are as excited about spring as I am, you will want to start some peas. They prefer the cool weather anyway since it tends to make them sweeter. I always look to around or after St. Patrick’s day as the time of year to start directly sowing them into the ground. Try planting rows on two side of a trellis in a sunny location that has fertile soil for double the yield in very little place. Peas are a great addition to the garden – they put nitrogen back into the soil and they are vertical growers not taking up a lot of garden space. They are an early season vegetable, but you can seed again in the late summer for an early fall harvest. Fall harvests fall short of the spring harvest when the soil temperatures start off cooler.  Peas get along great in the garden with just about everybody but chives, late potatoes, onions, gladiolus and grapes. Peas do particularly well with corn, cucumbers, celery, eggplants, bush/pole beans, early potatoes, radishes, spinach, strawberries, tomatoes and turnips. I always plant a wide variety, this year so far it I put in some Half Pints, Sugar Pod2, Oregon Sugar Pod II, Sugar Snap.I will keep sowing seeds every few weeks to try to get a long harvest before the warm weather sets in.

When you see daffodils and dandelions start to bloom, you should plant your potatoes -soil temperatures are hovering around 45º at that point – a good time to start potatoes.  We prefer to grow our potatoes in smart pots. It’s easy to do, takes very little space and fun to harvest by just dumping out the sacks.  You can couple potatoes with marigolds in a pot or if you choose to put them in the garden be sure to hill them and couple with bush beans, celery, carrots, corn, cabbage, horseradish,peas, petunias, onions, marigolds and french marigolds.  Just keep them away from asparagus, kohlrabi, rutabaga, fennel, turnips, pumpkin, squash, tomatoes, sunflowers and cucumbers.

At 50º, germination starts to happen for spinach, Swiss chard and carrots. A whole bunch of delicious crops you can begin to grow in the the early season that are easy to grow, delicious and beautiful in the garden!  Carrots are one of my favorite seeds to sow – be sure to keep the soil moist until you see the first leaves appear. Before sowing be sure you have cultivated the bed deeply and thoroughly to promote good root growth. I found last year I did very well when I coupled my carrots with french marigolds. Marigolds roots emit an enzyme that help fights against root-eating nematodes. Bugs Bunny would have loved my carrots! Carrots also go well with leaf lettuce, onions, peas, leeks, chives and rosemary; be sure to keep it away from dill, parsnip and Queen Ann’s Lace.

Daikon radishes, radishes and beets are others also don’t mind the chilly temperatures spring has to offer. They are all easy to grow and do so quite rapidly in cool weather.  Beet seeds can be directly sown once the soil is workable and for successive crops, simply plant in two-week intervals and you will get a continuous harvest.  Remember all the parts of the radish are edible – so enjoy!  Radishes prefer the company of beets, bush/pole beans, carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, parsnips, peas, spinach, nasturtiums and members of the squash family.  They should not be grown near hyssop, cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts or turnips however. Beets do well with lettuce, cabbage, onions, kohlrabi, garlic and mint but not pole beans.

Lettuce from our spring garden
Lettuce from our spring garden

Lettuce is another one that quickly thrives in the chilly spring air. There are so many different varieties to choose from – look for ones that are slow to bolt. Lettuce doesn’t do well with cabbage or parsley – so be sure to separate those in the garden. But pair it up with some beets, broccoli, bush/pole beans, carrots, onions, strawberries, sunflowers, radishes, cucumbers and dill and it should do very well.  I also planted two types of lettuce the other day, one called Frizzy-Headed Drunken Woman Lettuce, the name alone is why I purchased the seeds. It’s a butter-head variety which forms a single savoyed 8 inch head with mint green leaves tinged in mahogany red. Very slow to bolt. I also planted a red iceberg since I love me an iceberg wedge salad with blue cheese.  Mache also known as lam’s lettuce or corn salad is a mild tasting green that’s an easy spring-time grower to consider which can be harvested through early winter or longer in milder climates.  Arugula can also be sown in early April. Sow ever 2 weeks and you’ll enjoy a succession of harvests of delicious greens through the fall.

Kale and onions are two more that you can start in April.  You can plant onion sets, not seeds which should be started indoors. Shallot seeds and starts can be planted in early spring. Onions work well with beets, carrots, leeks, kohlrabi, brassicas, tomatoes, lettuce, strawberries, dill, chamomile and summer savory. Just keep it away from your peas and asparagus.

Softneck garlic can be planted in the spring and fall whereas hardneck garlic should be planted in the fall for overwintering.  Garlic will work with most herbs in the garden and helps keep deer and aphids away from roses, raspberries, apple and pear trees. In the garden it also does well with celery, cucumbers, peas and lettuce. It’s a great companion plant since it helps in repelling codling moths, Japanese beetles, root maggots, snails and carrot root-fly.  I love garlic and we use it a lot when we cook – so having a supply of fresh garlic around is important to us and the flavors can’t be beat when you row your own!

So with the cold, rainy days of April ahead – take solace knowing that the blooms of May are not far away.  Happy gardening!

 

 

For Better or Worse – A Guide to Companion Planting

Many experienced gardeners already know that having a diverse mix of plants helps give you a beautiful and healthy garden.   Some also believe that certain plant combinations have extraordinary powers for helping each other grow.   Scientific study of companion planting has confirmed that some combinations have real benefits unique to those combinations, while experience has demonstrated to many gardeners how to combine certain plants for their mutual benefit.  

How can companion plantings help you?

  • Companion plantings brings variety into the garden by helping to break up the monoculture, this aids in deterring disease and bad bug infestation.
  • It’s a holistic approach to working with the intricate layers of the ecology of your garden.
  • Reduces the need for fertilizers and pesticides. Many vegetables and herbs store natural substances in their roots, flowers and leaves that repel unwanted pests and attract beneficial insects.
  • Enhances the beauty as well as the flavor and overall health of your garden by working in harmony with nature.  

How close should the plants be to each other?

  • Take the average spacing between the two varieties.  

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Ancient Companions Over the centuries, companion planting has played a vital role in the survival of people throughout history. The Iroquois American Indians in the Northeast used the “Three Sisters” or De-o-ha-ko. De-o-ha-ko literally means “our sustainers” or “those who support us”. When companion plantings are used they help one another grow, thrive and produce higher yields efficiently and with little impact on the environment.  
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Scientific Foundations for using Companion Plantings

Trap Cropping – one plant will lure bugs and pests away from another plant and serves to distract.  
Symbiotic nitrogen fixation – legumes (peas, clover, beans) fix atmospheric nitrogen for their own use and benefit of nearby plants via symbiotic relationship with rhizobium bacteria.  
Biochemical pest suppression – certain plants give off chemicals in their roots or aerial parts that suppress or repel pests and protect neighboring plants.  
Physical spatial interactions – tall growing plants which love sun sharing space with low growing shade tolerant plants gives higher yields in less space, as well as yielding pest control.  
Beneficial Habitats – or refugia is when companion plants provide a desirable environment for beneficial insects and other arthropods, like predatory and parasitic insects which help keep the pest population in balance. Agroecologists believe this is a good way to both reduce pest damage and pesticide use.  
Security via Diversity – a mixed variety of plants, herbs and vegetables helps limit the possible destruction that can be caused to a single crop or cultivar. Simply mixing cultivars will achieve the diversity needed as the University of California demonstrated with broccoli.

As much as there are plants that are compatible together, there are some that are just as incompatible together as well.  Please refer to our Companion Planting Guide that also gives hints as to certain ways that plant may be used to deter certain critters, big and small.

Condensed Companion Planting Guide
Asparagus Plant plant with Aster family of flowers, basil, tomato, parsley, dill, coriander, comfrey, marigolds. Do not plant with garlic, onions, potatoes.    

Basil plant with tomatoes, peppers, oregano, asparagus, petunias; helps improve flavor and growth and aids in repelling thrips, flies, mosquitoes, deer. Do not plant with rue, sage   

Beans are wonderful to plant with most vegetables and herbs (carrots, cauliflower, celery, chards, corn, eggplant, radish, strawberry,
potatoes, cucumbers, cabbage)Beans help to enrich the soil with nitrogen Do not plant with (alliums) garlic, onions    

Beets plant with lettuce, cabbage, onions, kohlrabi, garlic, mint. Beets are good for adding minerals to the soil (leaves are made of up of 25% magnesium), valuable addition to the compost; beets flavor is improved by garlic and mint.
Do not plant with pole beans.  

Broccoli is great to plant with basil, bush beans, cucumber, dill, garlic, hyssop, lettuce, marigold, mint, nasturtium, onion, potato, radish, rosemary, sage, thyme, tomato.   Celery, onions and broccoli improve broccoli’s flavor; broccoli loves calcium so pairing it with plants that don’t need calcium like nasturtiums and beets – free up the calcium in the soil for broccoli.  Do not plant with grapes, strawberries, mustards, rue.  

Cabbage Family includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, kohlrabi, cauliflower, and cabbage are all wonderful when paired with celery, beets, onions, potato, spinach, chard, sage, thyme, mint, rosemary. Chamomile and cabbage improves flavor while celery and cabbage improves growth and health. Do not plant with tomatoes, strawberries, pole beans, peppers, eggplants, grapes, lettuce.   

Carrots plant with leaf lettuce, onions, peas, onions, leeks, chives, rosemary. Do not plant with dill, parsnips, Queen Ann’s lace     

Celery plant with potatoes, spinach, bush beans, onions, cabbage families, leeks, tomato, cosmos, daisies, snapdragons. Do not plant with corn, potatoes, aster. Carrots can be infected with yellow disease from aster flowers  

Chards plant with beans, cabbage family, tomato, onion and roses. Do not plant with cucurbits, melons, corn or herbs    

Chives plant with carrots, tomatoes, apples, brassica family, mums, sunflowers. Improves growth & flavor of carrots and tomatoes; chives keeps aphids away, drives away Japanese beetles and carrot rustfly; Do not plant with beans and peas.

Cilantro(Chinese parsley, the seeds are coriander)   Anise, caraway, potatoes, dill. Cilantro repels harmful insects(aphids, spidermites & potato beetle) 

Corn  Amaranth, white geraniums, lamb’s quarters, melons, morning glory, parsley, peanuts, pumpkin, soybeans, sunflower, potatoes, peas, beans, squash, cucumbers. Corn feeds off of the nitrogen left behind by the beans when interplanted together. Do not plant with tomatoes

Cucumber plant with beans, corn, radishes, peas, sunflower, dill, beets, nasturtiums.When planted with nasturtiums growth & flavor improve and when planted with dill it attracts predatory beneficials. Do not plant with cauliflower, potatoes, basil, sage, rue.  

Eggplant plant with amaranth, beans, spinach, tarragon, thyme, marigolds, peppers         

Garlic plant with most herbs, roses, raspberries, apple trees, pear trees, celery
cucumbers, peas, and lettuce. Garlic accumulates sulfur, a natural fungicide which prevents disease. it helps in offending codling moths, Japanese beetles, root maggots, snails and carrot rootfly; time release capsules planted at the base of trees deters deer.

Lettuce plant with beets, broccoli, bush beans, pole beans, carrot, onion, strawberries,  sunflowers radishes, cucumbers, dill. Do not plant with cabbage, parsley    

Marigolds, French plant with most plants but do not plant with beans, cabbage French marigolds keeps soil free of bad nematodes and discourages many garden pests/insects.

Mint plant with cabbage, tomatoes. It improves the health of cabbage & tomatoes. While it also deters white cabbage moths, ants, rodents, flea beetles, fleas, aphids by attracting beneficials like hoverflies & predatory wasps.

Onion plant with beets, carrots, leeks, kohlrabi, brassicas, tomatoes, lettuce, strawberries, dill, chamomile, summer savory. Onions & strawberries help the berries fight disease; intercropping with leeks and onions with carrots confuses carrot & onion flies. Do not plant with peas or asparagus.   

Peas plant with corn, cucumber, celery, eggplants, bush/pole beans, radishes,
spinach, strawberries, tomatoes, turnips . Do not plant with chives, potatoes, onions, gladiolus, grapes.     

Pepper, sweet bell plant with tomatoes, okra, parsley, basil, carrots, marjoram, petunia, onions. Do not plant with fennel, kohlrabi, apricot trees    

Pepper, hot plant with cucumbers, eggplant, escarole, tomato, okra, swiss chard, squash, basil, oregano, parsley & rosemary.  Chili peppers roots exude a substance which prevents root rot and other fusarium diseases; teas made from hot peppers can be used as insect sprays   

Potato plant with bush beans, celery, carrots, corn, cabbage, horseradish, marigolds, peas, petunias, onions, French marigolds. Do not plant with asparagus, kohlrabi, rutabaga, fennel, turnip, pumpkin, squash, tomatoes, sunflowers, cucumbers     

Pumpkin plant with corn, beans, radishes, peas, oregano, marigolds, squash, melon, nasturtiums. When planted with marigolds deters beetles, planted with nasturtiums deters bugs & beetles, with oregano for the pest pest protection   

Radish plant with beets, bush beans, pole beans carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, parsnips, peas, spinach, members of squash family, nasturtium. Planted with squash helps deter squash borers; deter cucumber beetles & rust flies, chervil and nasturtiums improve radishes growth & flavor; lure leafminers away from spinach. Do not plant with hyssop, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, turnips.

Spinach plant with peas, beans, cauliflower, eggplant, onions, strawberries, squash, fava bean.

Squash plant with beans, pumpkins, corn, cucumbers, onions, melon, mint, borage, marigolds, oregano. When planted with borage deters worms and improves growth & flavor; marigolds deter beetles, oregano best pest protection. Do not plant with potatoes.

Strawberry plant with beans, borage, lettuce, onions, spinach, thyme. Borage strengthens resistance to insects and disease.  Do not plant with cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kohlrabi.

Tomato plant with asparagus, carrots, head lettuce, mint, nasturtium, onions, beans, basil, lettuce, garlic, cucumber,celery, chives, peas, peppers, parsley, marigolds. Basil helps repel flies, mosquitoes, deer and improves growth & flavor; bee balm, chives & mint improves flavor & health of tomatoes. Do not plant with dill, fennel, apricot trees, potatoes, kohlrabi, corn.

Turnips plant with peas and cabbage. Do not plant with potatoes, radishes or other root vegetables, delphinium, larkspur, mustard.

Zucchini plant with nasturtium and flowering herbs.

It’s a lot in information and I have plenty more which is why this only a consolidated companion growing guide.  We love to work with companions in our raised beds and there a wonderful way to help guide you while putting together containers.  Happy Gardening!