Planning our 2013 Vegetable Garden

This past week in Vancouver, I broke out a dress for the first time in 2013.  It was a beautiful, warm and sunny day – the kind of day that fools visitors into thinking that Vancouver is bright and cheery all the time.  ;)  It reminded me that it is about time to start thinking about gardening again.

Our 2012 vegetable garden

Our 2012 vegetable garden

One mistake that novice gardeners tend to make is to plant incompatible plants too close together.  Like people, not all plants get along with each other.  Brian and I try to practice companion planting.  There’s a lot of reasons for this, but some of the main ones include:

  • Competition: Some plants are better at competing for nutrients, space or pollination.  Think of blackberry bushes for example – They are very good at competing for space and can easily overtake an area over time.  You don’t want to plant anything so aggressive close to other plants because pretty soon, you’ll have nothing left.
  • Nutrient uptake: Different plants require different amounts of nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen.  Other plants are good at processing nutrients into a form that is usable to other plants.  So, it is often good to plant nitrogen fixing plants close to plants that use nitrogen heavily, for example.  For example, planting corn (a nitrogen consumer) close to beans (a nitrogen fixer) makes for happy crops.
  • Pest control: I don’t like to use pesticides, so I try to plant plants that can control pests naturally.  Some plants attract predators, like ladybugs and hoverflies, that eat pests, like aphids.  Other plants deter pests by being noxious or even toxic, like many onions and herbs.  I often put onions and garlics throughout my gardening plots, simply to help deter pests.
  • Pollination: Finally, successful gardening requires pollinators!  Depending on the types of flowering plants you choose, you’ll attract different pollinators which may or may not be beneficial to your crop plants.

But what you really want to know is what to plant with what, right?  So here’s a few tried and true combinations that might help you out in your own garden:

  • Asparagus: Dill, coriander, tomatoes, parsley, basil, marigolds
  • Beans: Corn, lettuce, rosemary, dill, mint
  • Brassicas (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli): dill, onion, garlic, rosemary
  • Tomatoes: Basil, beans, carrots, chives, garlic, marigold, onion, parsley, and sage
  • Squash: corn, beans, radishes

In terms of pest control, consider planting the following (cautiously):

  • Marigolds – repels nematodes (but attracts snails!)
  • Petunias – repels aphids and certain beetles
  • Sunflowers – to control aphids
  • Nasturtiums – to attract predators

How is everyone’s 2013 garden shaping up?  Any tips?

Posted in: Food and Grocery

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  1. We’re actually getting started this week. We’re also going to be building a compost pit this year for the first time. We like to grow lots of peppers and different strains of lettuce/cabbage.

    • CF says:

      Nice! Good luck with that. The community garden we use has a compost pit – hopefully there will be some usable dirt this year.

    • Since this is our first year of owning a house, it will also be our first summer planting a vegetable garden…as soon as we build one : ) Problem is, there is still snow on the ground! At the very least I want to have it built sometime before May.

  2. I just panted my garden this week. I have NO idea how it will turn out, as I’m very much a beginner, but I think I just have to be OK with however it turns out. At least I tried! Only time will tell!

  3. Mackenzie says:

    I can’t wait to someday have a garden! We are in an apartment right now, but someday soon! :) Good luck with your garden!

  4. We have raspberry bushes and when we moved in there were literally hundreds of them all. They simply take over the garden over time. It’s nice to have loads of berries but when space is limited we had to make changes. We plant our peppers and tomatoes together and they are amazing every year. Next to that is our raspberries but they have a decent amount of space to spread out. Our onions,rapini,rhubarb and chives are together and basil goes in big pots and we hope we get a good basil crop like 2012. We also have other herbs and a giant fig tree. Now all we need is some nice weather.

    • CF says:

      I love raspberries! I don’t have the space to grow them at all though. Your garden sounds lovely – hopefully we can have a good turn out up here too.

  5. Looks good, I particularly not a big gardener because I don’t have the time but my parents do and they have everything from corn, beans, cabbage, to lettuce.

    • CF says:

      It can be time consuming, with planting, watering and harvesting. Maybe something smaller would work for you, like herbs that can double as ornamental plants.

  6. AverageJoe says:

    What is it about gardening posts that gets me completely fired up?! I love the combinations you suggest. Fantastic stuff. Sadly, my garden is going to have to wait until next year. With our twins graduation looming, I’ve had my head on other things when I should have been planting away!

    • CF says:

      It wouldn’t be too late to start planting! We even planted winter crops last year and basically left them alone from November to February. When we came back last month, we had a bunch of kale and carrots to eat.

  7. Pauline says:

    my garden is a big fail so far, started again a couple of weeks ago and it looks more promising. Good luck to you!

  8. Nice, garden looks so green and fresh. Oh how I wish I have the time to start gardening. It must be nice to eat vegetables form your own garden.

  9. Bleh I need to get on top of my gardening. I’m slacking, but this will be the first year I do a veggie garden! Yay for dresses! I wore my first one this past week, too. Then it got silly cold again. My sibling went to Seattle a while back. The weather was super nice. The natives kept telling them to come back during rainy season before they even thought about considering moving there. :p

    • CF says:

      It’s true! The Pacific Northwest can be misleading :) My manager, who moved here from LA, always remarked that the weather was always beautiful when he visited… only to show its true rainy form after he moved here.

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