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10 Mar 2013

Great mates in the garden

Carrots and leeks or spring onions are good friends in the garden and the kitchen . . .
Category: General
Posted by: christina

Sometimes people get overwhelmed with the do's and dont's of companion planting and crop rotation etc. But never fear, most of the effects are fairly subtle, and wont necessarily mean you'll have a disaster if you do the "wrong thing" or even don't do anything much about creating helpful plant groupings.

I once heard companion planting described as "marigolds with everything", and its true that mixing up flowering plants with the vegies can help attract beneficial insects. And in the case of marigolds, there may be some other benefits in deterring soil dwelling pests like nematodes.

But for our FIMBY clients we usually stick to a few simple rules of thumb, and encourage everyone to observe and record what they notice about different groupings and rotations.

A classic case of plants NOT getting along well is the one of legumes vs alliums. In other words, don't mix up your peas or beans or broad beans with the onion family such as leeks, chives, spring onions or garlic. The alliums (onion family) exude stuff from their roots that will knock off the helpful nitrogen fixing bacteria that make the legumes (pea family) so useful at fertility building.

A good pairing is the alliums with carrots. These two friends use different niches in the soil (deep roots vs shallow roots), and the feathery carrot tops keep the soil cool and shaded between the tall thin onion or leek leaves.The photo below shows a row by row planting of carrots and leeks in Claire's garden. Now is a good last chance to get seed of carrots, and sturdy seedlings of leeks in the ground before the winter months.

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