Get our free book (in Spanish or English) on rainwater now - To Catch the Rain.
CCAT companion planting
With the recent completion of CCAT's Raised Garden Beds, CCAT thought it would be an excellent idea to plant companion plants within the beds. Part of my Engr305 project was to design a plan for which plants to plant and to do research to see what plants work well together. CCAT is very excited to have the space for a vegetable garden, as of right now there is no real plot for vegetable cultivation.
Companion planting is a beneficial way of growing like fruits and vegetables together. CCAT would like to utilize the small space they have within the Garden Beds to produce as much food as they can. The use of companion planting will be done within the beds to provide CCAT will some home grown goodness.
A Tad Bit of Research about Companion Planting
What is Companion Planting
Human beings are interesting creatures. We tend to relate to each other based on common interest. Plants are very much like humans; they tend to relate to one another based on similarities. Companion planting is the understanding our relationships have with one another. This was developed by gardeners, horticulturists and farmers. One common scientific definition used to describe companion planting is "The placing together of plants having complementary physical demands. Many things need to be taken into account when contemplating whether or not to use companion planting. The eg in which you decide to plant the seedling is critical, as well as how many of a certain variety of plant you choose to use is. It is important to understand the proximity in which you plant companion plants, because you don't want them to crowd one another. 
Happy and Healthy Plants
There are a variety of different plants that can be used with almost all of the plants in the plant community. These plants are called All-Around Beneficial Influence. Each other has its own characteristic or aid to help plants remain happy and healthy. These plants include:
- Lemon Balm - This is used to create a beneficial atmosphere around its self and attract bees. Lemon Balm is member of the mint family.
- Marjoram - This plant has positive affect on surrounding plants
- Oregano - This plant also has positive affects on surrounding plants.
- Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) - When used as a plant, this plant "Helps neighboring plants become more resistant to spoiling."  When used as a tea it will aid plant growth and maintain the strength of plants.
- Valerian - This plant helps stimulate phosphorus activity in the soil. Supports health and disease resistant plants.
- Chamomile - Concentrates calcium, sulfur and potash in its body. Lime specialist.
- Dandelion - Must be used in small amounts, helps most vegetables.
- Oak Tree - In a special tea, helps plants resist harmful diseases.
One of the best ways to maintain healthy plants is to be aware of the spacing used when planting them. Plant allowing leaves to barely touch each other. This will allow companion friends to become true friends.
Another important thing not to forget is the quality of your soil. Stinging nettle is an excellent thing to add to soil, because it stimulates the microbial life, which will aid in plant growth. There are many ways to replenish soil that has been depleted of nutrients. One is to sow thistle into the soil; this will bring up nutrients from the subsoil to aid in enriching the top soil.
Nutrition of Plants and Soil
Companion Planting has historically been referred to as crop rotation. Usually heavy feeders are planted first, followed by heavy givers. This is a kind of recycling program where both plants and humans participate in taking as much from the soil as they give. After heavy givers are planted, light feeders are added to the garden. Most of the vegetables we eat are heavy feeders, including corn, tomatoes, squash, lettuce and cabbage. These vegetables take a lot of nitrogen from the soil; to replace this nitrogen, heavy givers must be planted as well. Heavy givers are nitrogen fixing plants or legumes. Heavy givers include plants such as peas, beans, alfalfa, clover and vetch, as well as fava beans. All root crops are considered light feeders, including produce such as turnips, sweet potatoes and green peppers.
Determining the Spacing of Plants
There are many factors to take into account when deciding what plants you want to have in your garden. Listed below are some helpful gardening techniques.
- Border Plants
Border plants are resourceful because planted around the garden, they will repel moles and other unwanted garden critters. Some useful border plants include: Castor beans, daffodils, narcissus, scilla and grape hyacinth. Yarrow works extremely well when planted in-between paths. When planted around the border of an herb garden, it will help improve the growth of essential oils in the herbs.
- Catch Cropping
This simply means planting plants that mature fast. For instance when growing tomatoes, place some carrots or radishes near it, so you can harvest them sooner.
Every place is different. It is good to take into account what kind of seasons you have where you live and what your average rainfall is. For the best result, research plants recommended for your area. It is still fun to experiment with plants that are on the border of being successful producers in your climate. Sometimes it can be interesting to create a mini climate for them to help them succeed in your climate.
Oftentimes vegetables are categorized as to how well they will survive frost. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has created a system for classifying plants in terms of how they will survive frost;
-Hardy or cool season-crops will survive medium to heavy frosts.
-Semi-hardy vegetables will survive light frost. Seeds will germinate at relatively low temperatures, and can be planted 2 to 3 weeks before the last frost date.
-Tender or warm season crops will die at the mercy of frost. Their seedlings will not survive.
This is truly the heart of companion planting. This is the idea of having two of the same plants planted in the same area of space. This enables you to have a small garden and still be able to grow all the vegetables you plan on growing. Often times it is best to place things that mature fast with things that mature slow; this is so that after you harvest the fast maturing produce, the slow maturing produce will have time to spread out and become a big producer.
-pH is simply indicator of how much acidity or alkalinity is concentrated in something. This is expressed in units. It is generally used in horticulture science to indicate the quality of the soil. Soil acidity is indicated in two different types, active and potential. This is when the state of the concentration of hydrogen ions (H+) is more than that of hydroxyl ions (OH-). When the balance between the two is equal, you have what is called neutrality.
-Active soil acidity represents the excess of H ions over that of Oh ions. This is expressed in pH units on the pH scale. On the scale, 7 represents neutrality; anything higher means alkalinity and anything lower means your soil is acidic.
- Succession Planting
This will allow you to make the most out of compost or fertilizer in soil. Plant heavy feeders such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, chard, cucumbers, endive, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, spinach, squash, sweet corn and tomato. These plants should be planted in soil with newly decomposed manure. Once these heavy feeders are planted, follow it up by planting light feeders such as beets, carrots, radish, rutabaga and turnip. Legumes is the last things you should plant. These plants will restore nitrogen to the soil.
What to plant
|Asparagus||Tomatos, Parsley and Basil|
|Beans||Potatoes, Carrots, Cucumbers, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Summer Savory, most other vegetables and herbs||Onions, garlic, gladiolus, chives|
|Beans, Bush||Potatoes, Cucumbers,Corn, Strawberries, Celery, Summer Savory||Onions|
|Beans, Pole||Corn, Summer Savory, Sunflowers||Onions, Beets, Kohlrabi, Cabbage|
|Beets||Onions, Kohlrabi||Pole Beans|
|Cabbage Family (cabbage, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, broccoli)||Aromatic plants, potatoes, celery, dill, chamomile, sage, peppermint, rosemary, beets and onions||Strawberries, tomatoes and pole beans|
|Carrots||Peas, Leaf lettuce, chives, onions, leeks, rosemary, sage tomatoes||Dill|
|Celery||Leeks, tomatoes, Bush Beans, Cauliflower and Cabbage|
|Chives||Carrots, Tomatoes||Peas, Beans|
|Corn||Potatoes, Peas, Beans, Cucumber, Pumpkins, Squash|
|Leeks||Onions, Carrots, Celery|
|Lettuce||Carrots and Radishes, Strawberries,Cucumbers,Onions|
|Onions (and garlic too!)||Beets, Strawberries, Tomatoes, Lettuce, Summer Savory Leeks, Chamomile||Peas, Beans|
|Peas||Carrots, Turnips, Radishes, Cucumbers, Corn, Beans, Most Vegetables and Herbs||Onions, Garlic, Gladiolus, Potatoes and Chives|
|Potatoes||Beans, Corn, Cabbage, Horseradish, Marigolds, Eggplants||Pumpkins, Squash, Cucumbers, Sunflowers, Tomatoes, Raspberries|
|Radishes||Peas, Nasyurtiums, Lettuce, Cucumbers|
|Soybeans||Grows with anything, helps everything|
|Strawberries||Bush Beans, spinach, borage, lettuce, onions||Cabbage|
|Tomatoes||Chives, Onions, Parsley, Asparagus, Marigolds, Nasturtiums, Carrots||Kohlrabi, Potatoes, Fennel, Cabbage|
- Jeavons, John. How to Grow More Vegetables. 6 ed. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press, 2002.
- Riotte, Louise. Carrots Love Tomatoes. 2 ed. Julia Needham and Deborah Burns. Pownal, VT: Storey Communication, 1998.
- Jeavons,John. How to Grow More Vegetables . 6 ed. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press, 2002.