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The Heart of New England
Garden Friends and Foes
By Jeanne Sable

Memorial Day weekend marks the period
gardeners in this climate zone generally
deem "safe" for planting tomatoes and all
the other frost-fearing plants we love
to grow.

Typically, we jump the season a little,
waiting only until the last full moon before
Memorial Day weekend to release our
tomato plants and eggplants from their
cramped plastic containers. That’s also
when we begin sowing seeds for squash,
pole beans, melons, and other  heat-loving plants, realizing that if Mother Nature
has any more frost in store this season, she's likely to unleash it during a full
moon.

But this year that window of opportunity slipped by early as we headed for
Florida. Now that we’re back, we must decide whether to do the transplanting
now, or wait till the next full moon a few days after Memorial Day, just to be
sure. That also gives me a few more days to plan just where to put everything.
There are many factors  to consider.

Certain Plants Belong Together

Compatibility is key. Some plants give off odors that repel pests that would
bother their neighbors. Others attract insects beneficial to the whole row. Others
refuse to get along at all. Certain plants compete for food, or release substances
that can inhibit their neighbors. The trick is to create a friendly community of
plants. Group together those vegetables, herbs and flowering plants that benefit
each other,  and avoid placing a Hatfield next to a McCoy.  

When planting time rolls around, I often find I've forgotten which plants make
good companions and which do not.

Sometimes I'll associate the correct pair, but forget whether they like or loathe
each other. It would be a simple matter to map out a basic layout and stick to it
every year, but it's important to rotate crops from year to year in order to
discourage disease and balance the nutrients they take from and leave in the soil.
It's also fun to try growing new things each year.  

Sing a Garden Song...To Remember Plant Compatibility

One day working out in the garden I began singing folksinger/songwriter Dave
Mallet's classic "Garden Song".

It seemed odd that I could recall all the lyrics after many years of not having
sung it, yet could not remember the various plant friends and foes without
looking them up ever year. Then I had a thought: Perhaps if put to rhyme or
song, next year the words will flow along. You get the idea.

The following are some little rhymes and ditties I dreamed up in an effort to help
me, and perhaps you, remember who likes rubbing elbows with whom in the
garden, and who, like the strawberry for example, would sooner live in the brier
patch than reside next door to a cabbage, thank you.


Beets of red should never bed with beans of green, nor mustard wed.


Onion, garlic, leeks and shallots.
Keep carrot flies away from carrots.
But these pungent bulbs, unseen
Disagree with neighbor bean.


Lettuce is easy to grow, on the average
Except when competing with sunflower or cabbage.


Many vegetables love the potato,
which shuns its own cousins, eggplant and tomato.

Or how about these little tips:

Where catnip attracts cats,
Flea beetles flee.


To plant your carrots, deeply till
But keep them far away from dill.

Please feel free to use these, put them to music, or try making up a few of your
own. Here's a little secret: the more ridiculous you make the rhyme or image, the
easier it is to remember.  

And you thought I was just plain silly. Happy gardening!

About the author








Jeanne Prevett Sable of New Hampshire is an organic gardener, editor, and
freelance writer specializing in farming and environmental issues, with hundreds
of articles published in local, regional, and national publications. She has written
environmental scripts for children's television, live puppet theater, and the Web.
She is also the author of
Seed Keepers of Crescentville, her first novel.
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