Trellising for Shade

Using Trellises and Beans to create shade in your Garden

Because this summer will be a very hot one, get your water into place now. Lay down irrigation pipes, but also ensure that you have shade in place. Last summer I have all my shade props align East – West  with the idea that shade would come into the areas behind those props. Usually I’d have some kind of climbing bean going up 10 feet high. But as you can see from the diagram below, in high summer with the sun directly above you, there’s not much shade.

E-W aligned trellis with shade at midday

So this year I’m aligning my shade props to have North – South. That way, when the sun is in the East and lower, the shade props are giving plants on either side a break as the sun travels over head.

In the morning, it will look like this;

N-S aligned trellis with shade in the morning

And in the afternoon, like this.

N-S aligned trellis for shade inthe afternoon

The idea here is to try and half the pain and water vigourously in the morning and the afternoon.

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Crop Rotation

Why Practice Crop Rotation ?

Crop Rotation is an important part of making sure that you look after your soil. If you soil is no good then neither will your plants.

The basic idea is to put veggies in soil that best suits them. Heavy feeding plants (plants that produce large fruits or have large leaves) need richer soil than plants that don’t. So when you finish up with a crop of heavy feeders, you need to either pick a plant that is suited to than depleted soil OR put a plant into the soil that puts nutrients back in. I always plant carrots after potatoes, to the point where I now only plant potatoes in soil in order to get a carrot crop.

Crop Rotation Infographic
Crop Rotation Infographic

Rotating crops like this also reduces the chances of your plants being attacked by diseases/insects. If plant A is attacked by disease B, and disease B is prevalent in a part of your garden, then crop rotation helps. If plant A isn’t there to attack or be fed on (because you have put it some place else), then disease B isn’t able to survive. This is particularly the case with tomatoes and potatoes. There is a nemotode that become present with potatoes that then attacks tomatoes. To remove the nemotode, you need to remove the food it attacks. In this case, it means that you shouldn’t plant tomatoes in ground that has had potatoes in it for the previous 3 years.

Examples of Crop Rotation

In Spring plant your nightshades like peppers and eggplant. They have high nutrient requirements because of the fruit that they produce. Once they have been through, and BEFORE you replentish the soil with a manure or compost, place in a crop that has low nutrient requirement or indeed doesn’t produce the way we want if given too much in the way of nutrient. Carrots are a good example.

So now you’ve have a heavy feeding crop through and a light feeding crop through. It is time to put in a crop that will add nutrient back into the soil. Beans, peas and other legumes are ideal for this.

Companion Planting Beans

beans

Runner beans are probably the easiest thing to grow in your garden. They sprout very quickly and provide nitrogen fixing. They can clamber up poles and harvest very quickly.

Plants the benefits from beans are any that require lots of nitrogen to grow. So good companions are brassicas, like cauliflower.

Corn benefits from the nitrogen and also provides a trellis for the bean to climb up. Start the corn about one month ahead of the beans though. Corn grows slower than beans and needs to the head start so that quick growing beans have something to climb up.

This is our companion planting guide to beans.

US-BeansCompanionGuide

Companion Planting for Tomato

tomato

Tomatoes are the most common plant to find in a home veggie garden. What should you grow next or near to them in order to get the best results?

Companion planting is art as much as it is science. The point of companion planting is to find plants whose properties of smell or chemicals that they release into the soil benefit or retard development in their neighbours and by neighbours I mean within 30 inches  from each other.

I’d be interested in what experiences you have had with companion planting tomatoes. Some people will disagree which side of the ledger beetroot should be on or even beans belong here.

This infographic is a tomato companion planting guide which shows you 9 good and 9 bad companions for your tomato plants. Basil has been shown to increase yields by 20% (according to this paper) but the basil plant also benefits from being close to tomato. And of course they are natural companions in the kitchen as well.

USTemperate-TomatoCompanionGuide