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Companion Gardening for the Intimidated

companion gardening for the intimidated

When I was a kid, I loved gardens. When we had one at our house, I loved weeding because it meant eventually I’d get to snack on yummy radishes. When teachers and grandparents wanted young labor to help in the gardens, I was always willing.

After college when I finally had a place that was really my own, I talked a lot about beginning a garden. But every time I started planning, I got overwhelmed. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to keep bugs away without using chemicals and pesticides, and I didn’t feel okay doing that.

It also felt like if I made the wrong decisions about what to plant, when to plant it, and what I planted next to each other, I would completely fail.

Of course, that’s not how gardening works. While a lot of plants to have specific needs for optimum growth, many will manage to grow no matter what nature (or your black thumb) throws at them. This year I bought a handful of herbs, pepper plants, kale, and tomatoes, and started a small row of container planters along my driveway. I realize now that as long as you water with consistency and pay attention to what the plants are telling you, complete failure is unlikely.

one plant thriving, one plant isn't

Sometimes even the same plant in the same soil will have a different outcome.

Sure, some harvests are disappointing — I have two habanero plants that are producing absolutely nothing (though they look healthy!), while the sweet red pepper plant next to them is thriving. But overall, you have to be ready to accept the bad with the good.

That being said, I’ve already learned a lot about companion gardening, and am outlining plans for a more fleshed out, actual garden next year. Gardening isn’t a magic process that guarantees success, but there are scientific reasons certain plants do better together.

Below are some uses and tips for companion gardening.


Keeping Pests Away Naturally

Problems with wildlife in the garden? Read more about that here..

Before there were pesticides, people managed bugs in a variety of ways. One main strategy actually led to the development of some pesticides. This involved planting plants that pests were attracted to next to plants that they avoided. Certain herbs repel pests because of their chemical makeup. This, of course, is an example of companion gardening to keep pests away.

Of course, there are other natural ways to keep pests out of your garden. Altering the PH of your lawn can help, as can natural solutions like vinegar. See more alternatives to lawn and garden pesticides here.

Maximizing Nutrients in the Soil

There are lots of reasons to grow your own food; self-sustainability, controlling the ingredients in your food, and affordability are just some of the top few. When it comes to controlling the contents of vegetables, most people focus on pesticides. But how vegetables are grown has a strong effect on the nutritional content. Blueberries thrive in acidic soil provided by oaks and pines. Some weeds like stinging nettle pull nutrients to the surface, making those nutrients available to nearby plants when the weeds decompose.

Basil and Parsley work well together, but the mint is planted separately because of a tendency to take over.

If you have too many plants on the same soil level, they will compete for nutrients. This is why planting

bush beans next to corn is ideal, because their roots are at different levels in the soil, meaning they don’t compete for water and nutrients. You have to be careful with herbs too, since some spread and will take over a whole space. I’ve got basil and parsley in a bin together working great, but when my husband bought me a mint plant, I knew I needed a separate container.

Companion gardening sounds scary and difficult, but it really comes down to paying attention to how your plants are doing and changing their environment to improve it. The Farmer’s Almanac is a great place to start for companion planting recommendations, or you could try the book “Carrots Love Tomatoes” available at Pantry Paratus.  Share your gardening experiences in the comments!

companion gardening for the intimidated

Jeriann IrelandJeriann Ireland blogs about figuring out how to live healthy, pay off student loans, and have tons of fun while doing it.   Read Making Healthy Food Decisions for Your Family” on Pantry Paratus, or you can find her articles on her blog,


Indoor Planters for Your Indoor Herb Garden

Indoor Planters for Indoor Herb Gardens

An important thing to consider when constructing your indoor herb garden, is figuring out what sort of indoor planters to use! This is where you can have a lot of fun actually, because your indoor planters don’t necessarily need to be typical planters. You can use anything that will hold dirt/water without making a mess – though you do need to consider drainage in many situations.

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Growing an Herb Garden from Scratch

growing an herb garden

Growing an herb garden from scratch is an easy way to go about it.  Many herbs can be grown with little sunshine, and water drains off very well from their soil on the average. They also require some watering and fertilizer or compost on a regular basis and some regular garden care. Your biggest worry is if they become too prolific (as the case with mint, and a few others–just pot & gift to an unsuspecting friend).  Growing an herb garden is an awesome idea, when it comes to the true meaning of simple gardening.

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4 Must-Have (Hard-to-Kill) Succulent Plants

4 Must-Have Succulent Plants

Succulent plants are easy to grow because they have juicy leaves, stems or roots which store water. Even if you forget to water them from time to time, they will survive. You can seed succulent plants alone or together with others. There are a number of colors from which to choose, and something will be perfect to liven up your home.  Still not sure what we’re talking about? As an example, all of the cacti plant species are succulent. These plants are very easy to grow because they like warmth and dry humidity, which most homes can offer.

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The Lazy Girl’s 3-Step Guide to Veggie Gardening

The Lazy Girl's 3 Step Guide to Veggie Gardening

It pains me to say this out loud, but I am insanely lazy. If there is a shortcut to take, you can bet I’ll find it. Luckily, when it comes to gardening, there are a number of plants that acquiesce to my laziness — allowing me to have all the deliciousness of home grown veggies, without the backbreaking labor.

I’m here today to share with you my three step guide to lazy veggie gardening. However, as is so often the case with convenience, this system involves spending some cold-hard cash. If you’re looking for frugal gardening tips, run as fast as you can in the opposite direction!

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Why Keeping Bees Might Be the Best Thing You Ever Did for Your Garden

Keeping Bees Best Thing for your garden

On Keeping Bees…

I was absolutely petrified of bees as a child — like, running away, screaming, and waving my arms petrified. It wasn’t until I attended a local lavender festival a few years ago that I changed my mind about our little striped friends. As I snipped branches of culinary lavender and placed it in my basket, I noticed the honey bees swarming the flowers had absolutely no interest in my activities. They didn’t dive bomb me, nor did they sting me.

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Produce, Prepare, & Preserve.