By Susan Taylor
San Diegans get half an inch of rain… and they become mad planters!
Yes, it did rain and everyone rushed to plant more seeds and summer veggies in the refreshed soil. What a good idea! While it rained I browsed yet another article on companion planting. Although we did cover this topic last year I think it bears consideration.
Companion planting means planting certain garden plants together for intended benefits. My main take away recently is that nasturtiums, marigolds and various herbs are wonderful additions to most garden beds because they stimulate and improve the taste of much of what we grow. These three are also deterrents for many garden pests.
It seems so easy to do; I think I’ll be more intentional this year. Who knows, I may even be more intentional in daily life! If you are interested, you can Google companion plants and find many articles as well as a few books.
I went to the Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College recently and bought entirely too many starts! What WAS I thinking? I have tomatoes everywhere, including some in pots because I ran out of room in the beds. We are watching bush and pole beans start to flower. Remember, pole beans imply that a POLE is needed.
I like to put a tepee style structure with three or more long legs to support the beans. Remember to pick young tender and slender beans frequently for two reasons: the young tender ones are more delicious and the more you pick the more you will have. We can’t have too many at our house and if you have to freeze some sure to double wrap so you don’t have freezer burn.
The Water Conservation Garden is a wonderful place for a visit. It is a dynamic place that continues to refresh it’s demonstrations of how to save water and have a great garden. I really recommend it for everyone, including families with children of any age. The Garden offers classes and discussions as well as drought tolerant, native plants, books, seeds for your consideration.
The last time I was there purple colored stakes, pots, buckets and the like really livened up the color around all the greenness. At this point here in early summer you can plant most anything except cool season crops like broccoli, cabbage and so on. Be sure to provide very young seedlings with some shade until they get two sets of leaves otherwise they could droop very easily.
Above I mentioned pole beans. Let me add corn and summer squash to the beans and you have what is affectionately called The Three Sisters of summer planting, a nod to Native American plantings centuries ago. The theory is that the corn stalks will provide support for the pole beans and squash can grow below and around both plants. It’s a quite charming planting style.
By the way, if you plant corn, be sure to plant in blocks and not long rows. You can plant two across and three deep of whatever your space allows-corn pollinates better this way than in rows. Actually, in rows you won’t get much corn at all. I enjoy a few varieties of sunflowers in the garden but I have a close relative that thinks this is quite trite. You decide!
Now for a few words about watering…We all are mandated by our local water districts to conserve water. No running water down the street; it’s probably time to kiss the lawns good bye.
Water everything in the early morning. It refreshes the plants and water is better absorbed when it’s cool. Evening watering leads to snails and slugs, and, boy do they like lettuce, squash, herbs, yummy basil. In fact they really love whatever you are growing in the garden.
For vegetable beds, water deeply and you will find you save water and time. Don’t worry– those plants won’t drown. If you grow fruit trees (I have 49) water deeply and if hand watering be sure to water all the way out to the tree’s canopy (where the branches and leaves stop) because there should be many roots all around. Roots spread and make a stronger tree and more FRUIT. That’s why you shouldn’t only water around the trunk.
Good luck with early summer planting … lots more to talk about before summer gets away from us.