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verified for correctness. Some of the information contained herein is hearsay and may not
be correct. Use the information from these pages only at your own risk!
- Suggestion A: Adding sand helps. Expensive sand won't be any better
than cheap sand. Actually sandy top soil is better than clean sand. Organic matter will
help a lot. Don't get too carried away with uncomposted material as it will tie up
nitrogen and cause mildew problems.
- Suggestion B: Gypsum will do wonders for the workability of the soil.
If you can't find a source rototill in old broken sheetrock from houses being remodeled or
from broken sheets at the lumber yard. Use the kind with paper on both sides not the kind
that has aluminum on one side.
- Suggestion C: You need an abundance of some form of organic material. I
did beds on similar soil one year and used hardwood sawdust. The tilth improved beyond
belief but the microbes at work consuming the sawdust nearly totally depleted the soil
(temporarily) of nitrogen. Mass infusion of ammonium nitrate turned it around quickly, but
a mild compost (like steer--not chicken) would be a better selection. Put it on 3 or more
inches deep when the soil is workable. Unless you want to be organic, use Roundup
herbicide to wipe out the grasses when they are lush and growing--just watch your plants!
One agriculture professor told me adding sand to clay is like putting beach balls into
a room full of oatmeal for aeration. It only makes cement, unless you use an awful lot of
- Suggestion A: I have had excellent results by getting the ground in
shape laying a soaker hose out and covering the whole thing with black plastic. Plant
through the plastic and water as needed. You will not need as much water and your soil
temperatures will be higher. I have never had a problem with the soil getting too hot down
here in Oklahoma.
Why Garden Organically?
Since the "organic law" does not apply to home gardens, why would any
gardener give up all synthetic fertilizers? And why not use synthetic pesticides, when
just one application could eliminate even the most devastating ravages of a crop insect or
disease? Why work so hard handling large quantities of organic soil amendments and
manures, when synthetic fertilizers of every description and purpose are so quickly
available and easy to use?
Early gardeners did it to preserve a way of life that reduced pollution and environmental
decay, thus creating a more ecological society. Organic enthusiasts are extremely
health-conscious, and hope that working vigorously outdoors and eating foods free from
pesticides just might lead to better nutrition and health. Today's organic gardeners are
even more ecologically aware due to the accelerated deterioration of the environment from
all forms of man-made intrusions. They can see waste-disposal sites filling up due to an
ever-increasing population and proliferation of technological litter. Organic wastes must
go somewhere, and organic gardeners see the soil and its capacity to recycle as the best
place for them.
Today's organic followers include not only purists but also individuals who see it as
their small contribution to conserving resources and energy. It's their way of rebelling
against the passage of the agrarian way of life and the arrival of chemical agriculture
that is now necessary to feed a population increasing at alarming rates. Rather than
ignoring this preference, the scientific community is increasing its efforts to reduce the
need for chemicals.
Companion planting may be defined as the interplanting of two or more
crops which benefit from being near each other. Some of the benefits of this technique
- Control of insects
- Improvement of soil structure
- Control of weeds
- Thinning of crops
- Improvement of crop products.
Scientifically, very little is known about companion planting. Some
gardeners testify that it works for them, but others view companion planting as unfounded
and wishful thinking. Each of the benefits mentioned above has some substantiated
scientific basis, however. The effectiveness of other plants, such as aromatic herbs,
which are supposed to repulse insects with the aroma they release, is less certain.
Insect Control. Insects may be repelled, attracted, or
killed by some plants. For example, interplanting marigolds with crops may control
nematodes in the soil. Catnip is reported to deter flea beetles. Mints, rosemary, sage,
rue, and tomato are said to drive away white cabbage moths (looper adults). Garlic, by
some accounts, repels Japanese beetles. You may want to use some trial-and-error
approaches to determine the effectiveness of aromatic plants in repelling insects. Do not
assume that the insect resistance of one plant will be imparted to another species growing
Some plants may attract predatory insects into the garden. Fennel may
increase the population of wasps in the garden which control larval stages of insects,
such as Mexican bean beetles, hornworms, and cabbage maggots, and supposedly some adult
insects. Asters attract spiders which may feed on some garden pests. Diversity of planting
may foil insects. Interplanting beans and potatoes is often suggested, but results have
Some plants may act as traps, attracting the insects to them rather than
to the principal crop. Some examples which have been suggested are planting eggplants with
potatoes to attract the Colorado potato beetle, planting tomatoes with corn to attract
corn earworm (tomato fruit worm, tomato bud worm) or vice versa, and planting turnips,
radish, or mustard to attract the Harlequin bug from other crops.
Improvement of Soil Structure. Some plants, such as
alfalfa, parsnip, caraway, and tomato, are deep-rooted crops which penetrate the soil and
may help break up compact subsoils and pans and help loosen and crumble the upper soil
levels. Other crops do not benefit directly at the time a deep-rooted crop is growing in
one site, but if you rotate crops, the next crop may benefit from the improved soil
Control of Weeds. The science of controlling weeds by
crops is in its infancy. Some plants have toxic effects on others. Walnut wilt is a
disease of tomatoes growing underneath walnut trees. Walnuts exude a chemical which is
toxic to many plants. Crop residues may release toxic residues which control weeds. The
effectiveness of the control is usually limited. Marigold residue may be worth a try in
Improvement in Product. This factor is most noticeable
in crops harvested as forages (hay, silage) where the interplanted species are removed
together. Grass-legume mixtures are common interplantings. The grass provides
carbohydrates and fiber to the forage, and the legume provides protein to enrich its
quality. Interplanting soybeans with corn is possible. Alfalfa/bromegrass mixtures are
well-recommended. It is unlikely you can enhance the flavor of vegetables by planting them
close to herbs.
Thinning of Crops. Interseeding a crop with one which
matures sooner can give a properly thinned stand of the later-maturing crop. Carrots and
beets or radish may be seeded together. When the radishes or beets, as greens, are
harvested, it leaves the thinned carrot stand behind. On the other hand, carrots and leeks
may be interseeded. The leeks occupy space so that the carrots are not too thick. The
carrots are the first to be harvested.
As with many practices, companion planting does not work for everyone or
every time. Unsubstantiated testimonials are often the basis for companion planting.
Caution is needed with claims such as "carrots dislike dill," "plant
parsley with roses to repel beetles," "interplant asparagus with tomatoes and
parsley for mutual benefit."
In addition, failure to recognize the true beneficial factor may lead to
false impressions. People who state that the best melons or pumpkins come from the
weediest parts of the patch are probably overlooking the fact that a very fertile soil is
stimulating weed growth and crop growth relative to less fertile areas. The failure to
control weeds in a garden normally leads to reduced yields relative to the full potential
of the soil to produce a crop. It is more likely that better melons or pumpkins would have
been harvested from those weedy spots if the weeds had been controlled. Weeds compete with
crops for light, water, and nutrients and harbor diseases and insect pests.
Selecting Companion Plants
You should apply common sense and science to selecting crops for
interplantings. Consider the relative competitive nature of the crops. Competition may be
evened out by crop spacing, however. Be sure that a larger or more aggressive crop does
not shade out a smaller crop. Deep-rooted crops may not be good companions for
shallow-rooted crops as is often recommended. The deep-rooted crop may exhaust water from
the lower strata of the soil leaving the shallow-rooted crop high and dry. Published
articles, suggestions from other gardeners, and trial and error can lead to successful
selection of interplantings. Scientifically-based knowledge about companion planting is
Designs for companion plantings
Plants in intercropped systems may be placed in several arrangements.
Some designs may be best suited for certain crops. Each plan must be well-developed;
otherwise, one or both crops may fail.
Interplanting in the Same Row. This design works well
for plants of about the same size and with similar growth habits. They should grow at
about the same rate, particularly until one of the crops may be harvested. Example: beets
and radishes work well in this system.
Zig-zagged Rows. This arrangement allows for a group of
plants to be tucked into another group of plants. Plants of dissimilar size and growth
habit may be used. Example: beets and onions work well in this system.
Sections. Rows of crops may be planted between the rows
of other crops. Variable spacing of rows may be used to allow light to reach each crop.
Plants may be grouped together for a better appearing garden. Example: corn and pole beans
work well in this system.
Borders. Borders may be used around other plantings for
a variety of reasons. You may want to test the repulsive action of herbs on pests. Annual
planting may be made with a perennial border or around a central planting of perennials.
Attractive gardens may be made with borders. Try planting a rhubarb border around annual
vegetables or have an asparagus bed surrounded by tomatoes or other annual vegetables.
- GARDENS: Gardens & Gardening Mailing List
Subscription address: firstname.lastname@example.org (two-part subscription, requires
Topics: Home gardening. Everyone is welcome to participate, especially the novice
gardener. Topics will include vegetable gardens, herbs,flowers, ornamental gardening,
container gardening, and so on. NOTE: This list generates heavy traffic.
Subscribe to GARDENS. Type "subscribe GARDENS Your Name" in the message body.
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- ORCHIDS: Orchid Growers Mailing List
Subscription address: email@example.com
Topics: Share and discuss information and experiences of orchid growers. The
discussions include, but not be restricted to: discussion of types grown; cultivation
techniques of certain types; Orchid Society events; helpful orchid tips to assist growers;
scientific, biological issues relating to orchid growth; seeding and propagating
techniques; hybrids and hybridizing; anything that would be of interest to orchid growers.
Subscribe to ORCHIDS. Type "subscribe ORCHIDS Your Name" in the message body.
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- HYDRO: Hydroponic Gardening Mailing List
Subscription address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Topics: Discuss technical aspects of hydroponic gardening, including methods, systems,
nutrients, plants, greenhouses, experiences, etc.
Subscribe to HYDRO. Type "subscribe HYDRO Your Name" in the message&127
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- MGARDEN: Master Garden Discussion Group
Subscription address: email@example.com
Topics: Home gardening issues and problems and to exchange gardening ideas.
Subscribe to MGARDEN. Type "subscribe MGARDEN Your Name" in the
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||If you are interested in any of the titles below, click on the title
and it will take you to Amazon.com for ordering. Click on the icon at the left for more
Seed Starter : A Guide to Growing Flower, Vegetable, and Herb Seeds Indoors and
Outdoors - by Maureen Heffernan - Publication Date: January 1, 1997 - List: $19.95 A
complete, easy-to-use gardening manual covering the basics of starting plants from seed.
Discusses indoor and outdoor cultivation, how to purchase seed, seed viability, gardening
equipment, planting charts and light requirements, planting dates, and other valuable
Processing and Germinating Seeds of Wildland Plants - by Cheryl Young, James A. Young
- Publication Date: October 1, 1986 - List: $24.95
Seeds : Native American Agriculture and Wild Plant Conservation - by Gary Paul Nabhan
- Publication Date: April 1, 1991 - List: $14.00
- From Seed
to Plant - by Gail Gibbons - Publication Date: March 1, 1991 - List: $15.95 Explores
the intricate relationship between seeds and the plants which they produce.
Gardening : A Kid's Guide to Messing Around in the Dirt/With Seeds - by Kevin Raftery,
Kim Gilbert Raftery, Jim M'Guinness - Publication Date: May 1, 1989 - List: $13.95
Now young readers will know from whence those carrots came. This full-color
extravaganza contains nearly a hundred pages of wipe-clean cardstock, hundreds of
illustrations, dozens of growing activities, plus 15 varieties of vegetable, flower, and
of Seed Science and Technology - by Larry O. Copeland, Miller B. McDonald, Lawrence O.
Copeland - Publication Date: March 1, 1995 - List: $74.95
Seeds : The Gardener's Guide to Growing and Storing Vegetable and Flower Seeds - by
Marc Rogers, Polly Alexander (Illustrator) - Publication Date: March 1991 - List: $12.95
- Seed to
Seed - by Suzanne Ashworth - Publication Date: January 1, 1995 - List: $20.00
: The Definitive Guide to Growing, History, and Lore - by H. Peter Loewer, Peter Loewer -
Publication Date: April 1, 1996 - List: $25.00
Loewer examines the vast and often surprisingly complex world of seeds in an
unparalleled thoroughness. In addition to the how-to of growing all kinds of plants and
vegetables from seed, the book also considers the role of seeds in history, literature,
and business. 100 line drawings.
- Seeds and
Propagation (Smith & Hawken--The Hands-On Gardener) - by Susan McClure, Jim
Anderson (Illustrator) - Publication Date: June 1, 1997 - List: $10.95
- The New
Seed Starter's Handbook - by Nancy Bubel - Publication Date: April 1, 1988 - List:
- Gardening In Deer Country - by Vincent
Drzewucki - Publication Date: January, 1998 - List: $9.95
- 200 Tips for Growing Vegetables in the Northeast - by
Miranda Smith - Publication Date: February 1996 - List: $7.95
- 200 Tips for Growing Vegetables in the Pacific Northwest -
by Maggie Stuckey - Publication Date: February 1996 - List: $7.95
- Building Your
Own Greenhouse (Greenhouse Basics) - by Mark
Freeman, Heather Bellanca (Illustrator) - Publication Date: April 1997 - List: $18.95
- Burpee : The
Complete Vegetable & Herb Gardener : A Guide to Growing Your Garden
Organically - by Karan Davis Cutler, Cavagnarok David
(Photographer), Barbara W. Ellis - Publication Date: November 1997 - List: $29.95
A companion to Burpee Complete Gardener, this book focuses on all aspects of growing
organic vegetables and edible herbs in the home garden. Planting techniques and tools,
garden design, and more than 90 individual plant portraits are included. 300 full-color
Gardens : From Garden to Palate - by Susan McClure
- Publication Date: September 1997 - List: $37.95
Acres and Independence: A Handbook for Small Farm Management - by Maurice Grenville
Kains, Maurice G. Kain - Publication Date: March 1978 - List: $7.95
Harvest : How to Harvest Fresh Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long
- by Eliot Coleman, Kathy Bary (Illustrator) - Publication Date: October
1992 - List: $19.95
Booknews, Inc. , 01/01/93:
Everyone who grows vegetables must know Coleman. He's the organic methods expert--the one
who knows how to maximize both garden yield and gardening pleasure, year round. Annotation
copyright Book News, Inc. Portland, Or.
Under Cover : A Northwest Guide to Solar Greenhouses, Cold Frames, and Cloches
- by William Head - Publication Date: November 1989 - List: $10.95
This is a complete guide to gardening with protective shelters that encourages both
beginning and experienced gardeners to add months of gardening pleasure at small expense.
With a little under-cover gardening know-how, Pacific Northwest gardeners can take
advantage of our mild climate to produce flowers, herbs, and vegetables throughout the
- Grow It :
The Beginner's Complete In-Harmony-With-Nature Small Farm Guide-From Vegetable and Grain
Growing to Livestock Care - by Richard W. Langer, Susan
McNeill (Illustrator) - Publication Date: January 1994 - List: $12.00
An indispensable guide to small-scale organic farming that features advice on everything
from building and stocking a pond to planting an orchard or making cheese. This extremely
practical and easy-to-use guide, first published in 1972, is for full-time or part-time
- Growing Great
Garlic : The Definitive Guide for Organic Gardeners and Small Farmers -
by Ron L. Engeland - Publication Date: July 1995 - List: $14.95
Vegetable Gardening : A Master Gardener's Guide to Planting, Growing, Seed Saving, and
Cultural History - by William Woys Weaver - Publication
Date: June 1997 - List: $45.00
Weaver focuses on 280 varieties of 37 vegetables in this encyclopedic guide to the history
and cultivation of some of America's most treasured heirloom vegetables. 100+ color
photos. 240 line drawings.
- A Dyer's
Garden : From Plant to Pot Growing Dyes for Natural Fibers - by
Rita Buchanan - Publication Date: August 1995 - List: $9.95
- A Produce
Reference Guide to Fruits and Vegetables from Around the World : Nature's Harvest
- by Donald D. Heaton - Publication Date: April 1997 - List: $29.95
- Growing Plants
from Seed : A Comprehensive Beginners Handbook for Vegetables, Flowers, Herbs and More
- by George Abraham, Katy Abraham, Doc Abraham - Publication Date: January
1992 - List: $13.95
A guide for first-time seed growers addresses soil mixtures, lighting, types of seed,
seed-starting kits, and more to help any gardener experience the rewarding feeling of
growing flowers and vegetables from seed. Original.
- Peppers : The Domesticated Capsicums - by
Jean Andrews - Publication Date: October 1995 - List: $65.00
Booknews, Inc. , 04/01/96:
An updated edition (first, 1984) of an elegantly produced, scholarly reference on
peppers--their history and dispersion, biology, taxonomy, cultivation, and medicinal,
economic, and gastronomic uses. Illustrated with the author's botanically accurate,
aesthetically pleasing paintings that show the blossoms, buds, young peppers, and mature
specimens of 34 cultivars. A review of the literature, a photo glossary, and an extensive
bibliography add to the volume's reference value. 9x12" Annotation c. by Book News,
Inc., Portland, Or.
- Peppers of the
World : An Identification Guide - by Dave Dewitt,
Paul W. Bosland - Publication Date: January 1997 - List: $19.95
Propagation : Principles and Practices - by Hudson
Thomas Hartmann (Editor), Dale E. Kester, Fred T., Jr. Davies - Publication Date: January
1997 - List: $86.00
The publisher, Prentice-Hall Career & Technology :
Hallmarked as the most successful text of its kind, this remarkably thorough text covers
all aspects of the propagation of plants - both sexual and asexual - with considerable
attention given to human (vs natural) efforts to increase plant numbers.
Gardening : Cultivating an Edible Landscape - by
Robert A. De J. Hart - Publication Date: September 1996 - List: $17.95
- Handbook of Organic Food Processing and Production -
by Simon Wright (Editor) - Publication Date: October 1994 - List: $119.00
- Introduction to Permaculture - by Bill
Mollison, Reny Mia Slay - Publication Date: November 1997 - List: $16.95
- Profitable Organic Farming - by Jon Newton - Publication
Date: June 1995 - List: $36.95
- The New
Organic Grower : A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market
Gardener - by Eliot Coleman, Sheri Amsel (Illustrator), Molly Cook Field
(Illustrator) - Publication Date: October 1995 - List: $24.95
Booknews, Inc. , 05/01/96:
This expansion of a now-classic guide originally published in 1989 is intended for the
serious gardener or small-scale market farmer. It describes practical and sustainable ways
of growing superb organic vegetables, with detailed coverage of scale and capital,
marketing, livestock, the winter garden, soil fertility, weeds, and many other topics.
Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
- The Art of the Kitchen Garden - by Jan Gertley,
Michael Gertley - Publication Date: January 1999 - List
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