March 31, 2011

Companion Planting and Rotation

So, I've been researching a lot about gardening and have come across lots of helpful info and tips regarding what plants to grow or not grow together and to which to rotate (which you only need to do if you are gardening the tilling or raised bed gardening method...not the organic natural no-till method--ideally). I got a ton of books from the library and am trying to compile a more comprehensive list of vegetables and herbs so I grow some of them together.

Classifications of Vegetables
Each type uses soil in similar ways and share similar pests, and therefore must be rotated with a different classification each year for four years.
  • Alliums
    Include Onions, Garlic, Scallions, Shallots, and Leeks.
  • Brassicas
    I include Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Brussels Sprouts, and Kale.
  • Crucifers
    include Turnips, Radishes, Rutabaga, and Collards.
  • Cucurbits
    Include Cucumbers, Squashes (from zucchini to pumpkin), and Melons.
  • Legumes
    Include Peas and Beans.
  • Mescluns
    I nclude Arugula, Swiss Chard, Chicory, Endive, Escarole, and Radiccio.
  • Solanaceae
    Include Tomatoes, Peppers, and Eggplant.
Perennial vegetables such as Asparagus, Rhubarb and Artichokes should not be rotated and therefore should be planted separately. The rest (most vegetables are hardy or semi-hardy annuals) should be rotated every year on a four year plan (so that the same family of vegetables is not planted in the same location within four years).

Companion Plants
 Companion plants are plants that mutually benefit each other. This can be anywhere from one plant being appealing (or unappealing) to certain pests which in turn takes care of it's neighbor's pests, to a plant that provides shade or nitrogen to it's neighbor plant for better growing conditions. 

Here is a short summary of some vegetables or herbs that grow well together (or not)... orange words in this list are herbs
  • Asparagus Parsley, basil, borage, lettuce and tomato (not fennel or dill)
  • Basil Tomato, most vegetables and herbs
  • Beans Potato, corn, lettuce, eggplant, cucumber, strawberry, celery, carrots, cauliflower, radish, spinach, rosemary, marigolds, parsley (not fennel, garlic or onions)
  • Broccoli Onions, leeks and celery
  • Brussells Sprout Potato
  • Cabbage Onion
  • Carrot Peas, onions, leeks, lettuce, chives, sage, chamomile, rosemary  (not dill or fennel)
  • Cauliflower Onions and leeks
  • Celery Tomato, leeks and beans.
  • Corn Lettuce, peppers, cucumber, beans and peas
  • Cucumber Radish, lettuce, beans, peas, potato and artichokes (not sage)
  • Eggplant Beans, peppers and lettuce
  • Leeks Cabbage, celery, onion and carrots
  • Lettuce Strawberry, radish, carrots, onion, corn and marigolds
  • Mint Cabbage and tomato (but I'd plant separately because it grows voraciously, like a weed)
  • Onion Lettuce, cabbage and carrots, spinach and tomatoes
  • Parsley Tomato, asparagus, carrot and peppermint
  • Parsnip Shallots, chives and lettuce
  • Peas Cucumber, radish, turnips, corn, carrots, potatoes, spinach and beans (not garlic, dill, fennel or onions)
  • Pepper Chili Cucumber, squash and lettuce
  • Potato sunflower, green beans, peas and broad beans and marigolds (not cucumbers, squash or tomatoes)
  • Pumpkin Corn
  • Radish Peas, lettuce, zucchini and nasturtium
  • Shallots Carrots, beetroot and mint
  • Spinach Strawberry, peas, onions and many other plants
  • Strawberry Borage (supposedly really good), lettuce, silver beet and bush beans (I'd plant separately due to their weed-like nature though)
  • Tomato Asparagus, peppers and basil
  • Zucchini Parsley, tomato, spinach, squash, radishes, corn and marigolds
Here's a summary chart of all vegetables companions.  (In this document, green is best to plant; red is worst)

Here are some other random tips:
- plant garlic near roses to keep away aphids
- don't plant potatoes or blackberries near raspberries
- try to keep grass away from apple trees (cuts down pest problems)
- marigolds are great to plant as a border, because they inhibit a variety of pests for vegetables
- dill, coriander and fennel can cause a lot of problems for many vegetables, so be careful with those (maybe co-plant those in a separate pot).

----And here is a helpful chart on helpful bugs and such, from Gaias Garden book (about permaculture--see my post about that).

8 Uses for Salt

*here are som tips from Tiffany from the Nature Mom's blog...

Salt gets a bad wrap quite often as being an excessive part of our diets, but it has some alternative uses around the home. This inexpensive mineral can be used to clean rugs, wood cutting boards, sinks, and various other things around the home. Here are some of salt’s nifty uses.

1. Carpet Cleaner
For liquid spills, soak up as much of the liquid as possible using cloth towels or rags. Then sprinkle salt liberally on the area. Wait for about 15-30 minutes while the salt absorbs the liquid. (This is handy for greasy spills, too – the salt absorbs the grease.) Then vacuum up the stained salt and sprinkle on some more. Clean the area with a mixture of 1 part white vinegar to 2 parts water. Vacuum the area again when it’s dry.

2. Stains on Wood
Someone didn’t use a coaster, or a hot dish made a charred area on your wooden tabletop. Make a mixture of salt and almond oil (olive oil or any salad oil will also work). It should be about the consistency of thick syrup. Apply to the wood with a soft cloth, rubbing the stained area well but gently. Then use a clean cloth to buff away the excess.
You can also use coarse salt to clean stained cutting boards. The grit gets the stains out and it helps to disinfect the board too.

3. Wicker Furniture
Discoloration can be a problem with wicker, especially white whicker. Dip a scrub brush into saltwater and scrub your wicker, then allow it to air dry in sunlight if possible.

4. Spackle
You can use salt to patch up your plaster walls. Mix equal parts of salt and cornstarch, then add just enough water to make a paste about as thick as store-bought spackle. Use a putty knife to fill in the holes and chips in your plaster walls. This will also work on sheetrock (drywall) walls. When the paste is dry, sand it lightly before painting.

5. Cleaning Glass
The gentle scouring and water-softening effects of salt can help remove hard water build-up and other stains from glass. Simply rub damp glass surfaces or drinking glasses with salt, the rinse with warm, soapy water. This technique also works on ceramic cups and mugs.

6. Drains
Mix 1 cup of hot water with 1 cup of salt and pour it down a drain that is clogged and/or smelly. Leave overnight, then flush with hot water the next day. Salt absorbs grease, which is one of the primary causes of drain clogs.

7. Car Windshield
Wipe your car’s windshield with a sponge dipped in salt water. This helps prevent frost and ice from forming on the glass. If you live in areas where winter is harsh (like I do) this can be very useful!

8. Laundry
Clean stains on clothing by sprinkling them with salt, then rubbing with a damp cloth. To prevent colors from bleeding out of fabrics, add 1/2 a cup of salt to your machine’s washing cycle. For cotton or linen that has gotten yellow, soak these items in boiling water mixed with 1 tablespoon of salt and 1/4 cup of baking soda. After an hour, remove the clothing and rinse.

Ladies' Goodreads- April

Blue Bottle Club
Penelope J. Stokes

In the wake of the depression of 1929, four friends gather in a cold, dusty attic on Christmas day to make a solemn pact. “Our dreams for the future,” they whisper, as they place tiny pieces of paper holding their life wishes into the blue, cabin-shaped bottle. Letitia dreams of marriage and children; Mary hopes to be a painter; Eleanor aspires to help those in need as a social worker; Adora longs to be a Broadway actress. Four girls, four dreams, and four futures sealed in a cobalt blue bottle. Sixty-five years later, local news reporter Brendan Delaney stumbles upon the bottle, discovering the most meaningful story of her career and possibly the meaning missing from her own life.

**we deviated from the book we had originally planned-- "House and Home, " due to some rather intimate and unnecessary details and cussing we'd rather not read.

March 7, 2011

"Change 3 Things" --Mom Challenge

There's a 2011 Challenge for moms around the world. I came across it while on www.cottonbabies .com (where I bought my cloth diapers) and wanted to sign up. It's a great challenge and for those that are up to it...more power to you! HEre it is....

Commit to using 3 cloth diapers a day instead of disposables for 1 year.
When you change your BABY's diaper, YOU create a new habit, save money and prevent unnecessary waste on your PLANET.

100,000 parents committing to change 3 cloth diapers per day resulting in:
- Thirty to fifty million pounds of prevented landfill waste.*
- One hundred million disposable diapers not purchased.*
- A combined savings of over $24M in the next year.**
- Increased public and media awareness about the environmental and economical benefits of cloth diapering.

**If you go to the website you can get a free wrist band reminder things (while supplies last)...

March 1, 2011

Home-made Jewelry

Cheryl made this bracelet for my birthday and I thought it was very creative and totally different than the regular jewelry you get at the store.  Simple, funky, yet beautiful! 

Thanks Cheryl for your creative birthday gift...I love it!

Home-made Headbands

My sister, Cheryl made this for my birthday and I LOVE it!