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WHO LOVES WHO IN THE GARDEN ZOO I A fun look at Garden Relationships and preparing for the New Year – Gardening with JC

End-of-year family banquets can generate very different responses in all of us.  Some families may get along, others may not.  Some family members may get along, others may not.  You may get planted next to your favourite uncle, or you might get stranded next to a less-than-savoury one. 

It’s exactly the same in your garden.  Some plants get along extremely well, protect, nurture and bring out the best in each other, while others would rather uproot themselves and go next door.  Knowing more about your garden family will help you situate them in such a way that your garden flourishes in strength and vitality.

The right (or wrong) combination of certain plants, or veggies, could make them more (or less) productive.  Growing certain plants in close proximity to one another may help deter pests, promote growth and even improve flavour.  On the opposite side of the scale, certain plants, when planted too close together, may actually harm or stunt growth.

With the festivities well behind us now, it’s time to turn our attention back to healthy eating and preparing for the coming seasons.  However, just because they are all plants, doesn’t necessarily mean they grow well together.

Here are some examples of “I’d rather not sit next to you, please!”

Potatoes do not like Tomatoes or Cucumber

But Potatoes and Cabbage are friends

However, Cabbage does not like Radish

Beans do not like Garlic, Onions, Beets or Cucumber

But Beans love Carrots, Chard, Cabbage, Corn, Peas and Radish

Carrots love Peas, Tomatoes and Onion

Beets love Onion, Cabbage and Potato

Basil and Dill are natural protectors of Tomatoes

And Sage will protect Cabbage,

Peas do not like too much water, and Mint repels Ants, and so forth.

Google has a wealth of specific information for your particular needs.

Start as you mean to continue. There’s nothing like starting with a clean slate, and that’s what new years are all about. New beginnings. It might all seem overwhelming, but starting with your garden tools and the tool shed, or garage, is usually a good place. Clean, oil and sharpen all your tools. Fix, replace or upgrade damaged tools with new ones that make specific jobs easier. Consider donating older (not broken) tools to a worthy cause.

Investing in and completing this important project will give you a sense of readiness, and eagerness, to tackle new garden tasks. Deciding what’s next is obviously subjective depending on where your garden is at, how you have been attending to it, as well as your vision for the future. 

Having a vision and a plan (and allocating a budget to cover it) is vital.  This will save you time and money, not to mention frustration when things aren’t working as well as you ‘didn’t’ plan for.

The next step could be the good old clean-up!  Pruning, trimming, cutting back, mowing, doing edges, weeding, mulching, etc. Also think about discarding the debris (never to be overlooked, as it can really pile up).

Right, now what are you going to plant?  Firstly, I cannot stress enough the importance of soil health as the basis for all healthy growth.  Having a balanced nutrient base will go a long way to ensuring your plants flourish and have a rich base for secure root development and growth.  If you are unsure, taking a good sample of your soil down to your local nursery or garden shop, will help the experts to point you in the right direction with regard to organics and fertilisers. Learning about and starting your own organic composter will not only help with kitchen scraps, but in turn will cost you less at the store – and helps you do your bit to help mother nature.

A diverse mix of annuals, perennials, flowers and vegetables make for a healthy garden landscape. Not only will your body enjoy the fruits of your labour, but pleasing aromas and eye candy, together with the buzzing of the bees and whispering butterflies can help soothe away the cares of the day. If your garden and lifestyle allow, consider installing a small beehive.

If you’ve always wanted to invest in a garden, but have no idea how to start, it’s always good to begin with low-maintenance plants that come back each year, so you don’t have to replant every season.  Water-wise plants also make a lot of sense given our warmer climate, and are extremely attractive in almost any setting.

View a garden like you would a pool on a hot day… if you are really keen, you will jump in.  It might be a shock at first, but don’t be afraid to take that leap of faith, you will soon learn how to swim.

As always,

Happy Gardening

For more gardening tips or to connect with me please visit my website or find me on social media.

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