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May 2003 III
Gardening in
"Little Siberia"

Advice and tips on
Companion Planting

© 2003 Janelle N. Seavey


Forty Degrees of Separation

Okay, Uncle! I give in! Stop the insanity! Today is the Thursday before Memorial weekend; you know, the big, summer, kick-off weekend? It is, at this moment, 46 degrees Fahrenheit here in "Little Siberia". On Monday and Tuesday of this past week, it was a record-breaking 85-90 degrees. Yes, that is a difference of more than forty degrees, in less than forty-eight hours. Think about it. Even the lobsters have begun to dig their mittens back out of storage. This is the forty degrees of separation between sane gardening practices and running amok with a pitchfork down any street in Maine.

Recently, there was an interview on Maine Public Radio with the author of a new book on the diverse nature of Maineís weather. He stated that throughout the entire state, at any given time, there are totally opposing weather systems. Driving through one town, you can find yourself in a classic Noríeaster of dry, driving, snow. Ten miles further down the road it can be fifteen degrees warmer and raining, five more miles, ten degrees colder and sleeting. I have a theory that Maine has to be "Meteorological Mecca" for recent graduates of any university or college that offers a degree in weather forecasting. Talk about job security and no boredom with your career!

All this can be very confusing and taxing to those of us who look so forward to warm dirt, seed packets and sore backs and knees. This year, after a particularly grueling winter, I rather jumped the gun on some of my seed starting and planting. One day Iím trying to stave off sunburn and wilting of my tender, little tomato and artichoke seedlings, that night, Iím inventing a frost cover that wonít crush them, or considering tending a roaring campfire set in the middle of the garden throughout the night. Even the deer figure itís just too weird to bother chomping everything in sight just yet. Then again, two hours from now, you might think I had erected a neon sign that screamed "Joeís All You Can Eat Deer and Gopher Salad Bar"!

Persevere? You betcha! We Siberians are a hardy, if not crazy, lot! Iíll soon be setting out dozens of marigolds along my garden edges and paths. You simply cannot plant too many marigolds! They should be planted as early as possible near vegetables and fruit bushes, too. The strong scent they give off says "Boo!" to all kinds of nasty buggers of the garden. In his book "Good Companions: A Guide to Gardening with Plants That Help Each Other", Bob Flowerdew* writes that some research has been done into their ability to kill nematodes, as well. Much of my knowledge and success with companion planting has been due to this well written, beautifully illustrated little tome.

Earlier this spring, I planted a 6"x 24" planter with summer savory. It has just begun to sprout its delicate, little offerings. It has been said that savory can be very helpful to broad beans, keeping black aphids at bay. I am going to slide the planter under the alder branch teepee which is waiting to support my runner (pole) beans and see if the savory helps this particular type of bean, as well. Regardless, I think the savory used as a seasoning for the cooked beans will taste good!

Next time, Iíll have a couple of recipes using some of the earliest offerings of the Maine late spring garden, but knowing our weather, it may well be recipes for "Frost Killed Lettuce Popsicles" or "Icy Tomato Seedling Daiquiris"! Until then, Happy planting!

 

copyright 2003 Janelle N. Seavey

 

*Good Companions: A Guide to Gardening with Plants That Help Each Other by Bob Flowerdew is available used only. Click the GO button below to see a listings of all his available books including his other books on organic gardening.
 
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Or, if you prefer, find at Amazon

Good Companions: A Guide to Gardening...

Companion Planting Ė a gardening system using the natural affinities of plants to promote or inhibit growth in their neighbors. Knowing which plants like each other and which ones don't can increase the health and vitality of your garden, improve the taste and nutritional value of your vegetables, confuse pests so you can eliminate toxic chemicals, attract beneficial insects and add to the enjoyment of gardening.'

Janelle gardens on about four acres on the Messalonskee Stream, an outlet from Messalonskee Lake, one of the Belgrade Lakes Region Lakes, one of which is Great Pond, made famous in the movie "On Golden Pond". 

She is an "enthusiastic and a tad obsessed" gardener who has been companion planting for over 20 years.

Gardening in "Little Siberia" index

also see Books - Companions