Taking Root #55

Interplanting and Companion and Succession Planting: What and Why?

By Gini Bramlett

For the Calapooia Food Alliance

Most gardeners probably have a good part of their gardens in by now. If you’re someone who doesn’t, don’t worry, be happy! It’s not too late! Planting a healthy, productive garden is not a one day deal and then you’re done. Planting can continue off and on through most of the growing season

So let’s get started with changing your mind set. Leaf lettuce, which I can’t live without, can still be planted from seed regularly through August while heading types should be in by mid to late July. There’s even still of time for broccoli and cauliflower seedlings to go in. Carrots from seed can be planted through July too. Bush beans, kale and chard will still do quite well in our climate if planted into early-to mid July.

My point here is that our valley offers us planting throughout most of the summer months, even garlic for early summer harvest and and cool weather crops such as broccoli, chard or leeks, for example can be planted in fall for the winter garden.

That being said, lets talk about interplanting, companion planting and succession planting. Interplanting is basically utilizing open spaces in your garden. Bush beans, for example, when planted in rows, take up to 6 weeks before the space between the rows are filled in. Why not make use of that space with fast-growing crops like radish or lettuce? By the time the beans are needing that space you have not only been eating salads every day, you’ve utilized dead space, protected the open soil from drying out too quickly – thus saving water,-and squelched weeds saving you back breaking labor

A great way to give your plants the best possible chance of thriving is by companion planting. This method pairs up plants whose chemistry’s enhance each others growth. It may sound a little extreme to some, but planting the wrong thing next to your prized tomatoes can seriously inhibit growth.

Strawberries, as an example should never be anywhere near tomatoes, but borage, lettuce, sage and basil get along with tomatoes famously. Dozens of books have been written on the subject and charts to download are available free online. In my nearly 40 years of gardening, I have seen some startling proof of this way of planting

The last method to incorporate into your gardening plan is succession planting. This one has been in my repertoire for some years, and it involves planting your favorites in smaller amounts and/or shorter rows, but doing so every few weeks rather than all at once to ensure a constant supply of beets, radish or salad greens throughout the summer. Having enough lettuce to feed an army all at once is a waste. I use this method with salad greens, carrots and beets. In the spring with I do it with spinach Just make a quick note on your calendar to remind yourself to plant another row in a couple of weeks.

Gardening is a wonderful way to feed your family and get in touch with Mother earth The methods I have briefly talked about are simple and can make your garden more productive, water and labor saving, and the healthiest it can be.

A word to newer gardeners: gardening is a learning curve and there’s no right way to do something., You never stop finding new ways of doing it, no matter how long you’ve been growing food. Every single growing season offers new ideas and new opportunities to try something new.

The Calapooia Food Alliance is all about growing your own organic garden, and offer garden space at the Brownsville Community Garden. It also offers beginning gardening classes in the spring, educational and thought-provoking films, local speakers at monthly Munch Nights and Master Gardeners at the Brownsville Thursday Marketplace to help you have the best garden possible. MGs can help identify garden problems, offer how to’s and share their own gardening experiences. Come down and chat with them. You’re sure to learn something new!

The Brownsville Thursday Marketplace offers freshly-harvested, mostly organic vegetables fruits and berries, herb, vegetable and flower plants, fresh eggs and homemade pastas, locally-made hand soaps, and bath truffles, homemade baked goods including cakes, cookies and more.

The market vendors also offer local honey, jams, herbal tinctures and crafts. Located on the corner of Main and Park streets from 3-6pm, there is sure to be something for everyone. Please help support our local growers, artisans and crafters to keep our community sustainable.

Oh, and you can even get ice cold berry and fruit lemonade to drink while you shop!

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