my wife gives me homework

When Jess took off for work this morning she said, “I hate to give you homework, but if you have time could you figure out the companion planting?” And she handed me a copy of Carrots Love Tomatoes. You know that Jess really loves a book if she actually goes out of her way to buy a copy after checking it out from the library. She even managed to snag a used copy at the local bookstore when they got one in.

So today I made a spreadsheet.

Of course the spreadsheet is longer than that. You have seen the photos of the seeds. It is a little out of control (in a good way). We did some companion planting last year and hope to do even more this year if we can manage. It is a little challenging to do the garden in a really planned manner as we are scrambling to build our beds and figure out the elusive shade free zones in our new yard. Meanwhile, some of our starts are getting gargantuan and the truly cold-hardy stuff could maybe, possibly go outside already. Ack!

As we experiment with growing more and more of our own food, we might as well learn from other people who have already been there and done that. Did you know that plants can repel each other? Tomatoes and brassicas apparently do. We are growing three types of tomatoes and three brassicas – kale, broccoli, and brussels sprouts. Good to know!

Last year we grew basil with our tomatoes to improve the flavor, and marigolds to keep the bugs away. This year we are going to throw in some garlic that we snagged in a seedling trade yesterday. Apparently garlic protects tomatoes from red spider mites. I am pro keeping away anything with the words “spider” and especially “mite” in it. And the borage we have been growing for our bees is beneficial if planted with our strawberries. Win-win. This is just a couple examples. The way these things work together is pretty cool.

I think I better run out to buy some marigold seeds today as they apparently work their magic on just about everything. The wonderful wikipedia companion planting list calls it the “wonder drug of the plant world.”

And a quick update on our bees, day 2.

After patiently waiting 24 hours the bee package box was removed. They didn’t make it exactly easy, as thousands of them were still hanging out in the box. It was so crazy to watch Jess work with them. She was covered in bees! She gently dumped them back out of the box, and boy is it a little mind-blowing to see a clump of thousands of bees get dumped out like that live and in-person! Then she left the mostly empty box out front for the stragglers to find their way home. I added some flowers to make them at home and Jess made them some food (1 part water, 1 part GMO free, organic sugar from the co-op). This is even more interesting than I expected. We grabbed some chairs and sat and watched “bee TV” for awhile yesterday. They are mesmerizing.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “my wife gives me homework

  1. Hillary

    I’m totally feeling you all on the pressure to do everything right, and the limited time to figure it out! Kyle and I have now built 10 small to medium sized beds, and we need to figure out what is going to go where!
    Btw, have you and Jess looked at the book “Great Garden Companions”? I’m sure it has lots of the same info as “Carrots Love Tomatoes,” but I just loved the layout and the sentiment of it.
    This is getting long for a comment, so I won’t enthuse about the bees too much, but they look so fabulous!

    • misterkrista

      I haven’t read that book but I bet Jess has if our library system has it. Last year I mainly used the wikipedia chart.

      I figure if things aren’t perfect this year we can really plan it all out next year since we’ll have a map of where our beds are by then. Do you have the shade challenges we do? So much of our yard is shady.

      Ten beds is impressive!

      • Hillary

        I think this is a big difference between our necks of the woods. (Or plains, in my case.) The only shade we have is from the house and the fence. The house faces west and the front and backyards are pretty long, so I think we’ll get good sun if we stay towards the middle of the yard. There’s this adorable brick raised bed built into the front of the house, but it’s under the patio awning. Wtf? I think it will still get some sun, but it’s not a very well thought-out layout!
        Anyway, the problem in Denver is not sun, but water. Did you know that rain-harvesting is illegal here?

        • misterkrista

          Oh, that sounds so ideal compared to all our shade, but I’m sure it has a unique set of problems. We have two rain barrels but Jess got warned about using them before testing the water in her Master Gardening class. Since we don’t know a lot about our roof, seems reasonable.

          I have been interested in those olla clay pot thangs the Path to Freedom folks use. Do you follow their blog at all? They have cut their water use a lot over the years, and they live in sunny CA. I want to get a couple to test out but I have been holding off because our start-up costs are so high this year since we are starting from scratch at our new place.

  2. Hillary

    Ooh, I haven’t seen that blog yet. I’ll check it out.

    I read something about rain barrels that let the first few gallons run off so that you don’t have a bucket of dirt and bird poop. I guess that doesn’t help if the roof itself is questionable, though.

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