Good growing neighbors

Many plants grow better with companions than each plant would produce if grown alone. An outstanding example: the "three sisters" – corn, pole beans and either squash or pumpkins. This trio is one of the easiest and most satisfying to grow. Plant in the spring. Prepare soil by adding fish scraps and/or wood ash to increase fertility. When danger of frost has passed, plant six kernels of corn an inch deep and about 10 inches apart in a circle about two feet in diameter. As corn grows, mound up soil around the base of the stalks until a hill about one foot high and three feet wide is formed. When corn grows to about five inches tall, plant four bean seeds (evenly spaced) around the perimeter of the mound. About a week later, plant six squash or pumpkin seeds (evenly spaced) around the perimeter of the mound. If space is limited, use squash, which spreads less than the pumpkin. Each sister contributes something to the planting. By the time European settlers arrived in America in the early 1600s, the Iroquois had been growing the "three sisters" for over three centuries.

Most vegetables have "friends" with whom they grow and produce better. For example: Beans thrive when planted near beets, strawberries, corn, eggplant, squash, peas, tomatoes, carrots, radishes, potatoes and celery. Enemies of beans are peppers, sunflowers, garlic and onions. Lettuce does not do well when planted near broccoli. It thrives near most vegetables including squash, cucumbers, asparagus, beets, corn, eggplant, onions, potatoes, radishes and spinach. Peppers fare better near spinach, onions, coriander, tomatoes and basil. Tomato enemies include asparagus, celery, beans, dill, peppers, lettuce, melons, radishes, onions, thyme and spinach. Onions grow better when planted near beets, lettuce, carrots, peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, spinach and cabbage.

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