So, last year I prepared a space in my garden to try out the method laid in Gertrud Franck's book on companion planting. Row A for crops like tomatoes, squash, Row B and Row C... I am planning to plant sweet corn, sunflowers, tomatoes, squash, pickles in the A rows. But, I'm realizing that my squash need 2 meters between each other, sunflowers need 50cm, the pickles need 60cm... Which is a lot of space, which would be wasted, as squash, sunflowers, etc. are just not taking up that space completely.
1) I wanted to try climbing beans for sweetcorn and sunflowers. Apparently it's a no-no for sunflowers, as the two plants are like cats and dogs. If you have any suggestion of something that would love to climb that sunflower, or be a good companion to it, I'm all ears.
2) I am wondering if planting sweet corn and/or sunflowers with the squash plants would be an issue. If I were to do so, the squash would just fill up the ground space, and the sunflowers/corn would just grow straight up... if I had the beans there, I'd even have a milpa (three sisters) system, in just one row of my garden. Meaning that I'd either be producing much more corn/sunflower/squash, or that I'd have space for other big crops as the row once dedicated for only one of these would be free. The author recommends planting mustard, marigolds... with tomatoes, so that's a few more crops with them. I plan to add basil too (from "normal" basil to a wide variety of holy basil).
Does that sound good ? Is there something I should avoid doing ?
I am going to start a few more seedling indoor, and having an idea of how much will be needed would be amazing. So if I can have an idea about how much squash, pickles... to sow, that'd be great.
3) I sew some beans (Vicia faba) in A rows, and mustard in B rows. Should I chop and drop now, or just before planting ?
4) On a related subject, I am also going to try out watermelons (Sugar Baby) and african cucumber (Kiwanos). Any companion plant (or "enemy" plant) I should be aware of ? The watermelons are planned to go near artichokes, marigold, borage, sage and yarrow, but there's still time to swap that space with the one dedicated to kiwanos.
I have not read her book but...
You need to have several rows of corn, maybe even plant many short rows or you will have to pollinate by hand.
Sunflowers exude a substance in their roots that prevent many vegetable crops from growing under them. I have planted borage and marigolds under them with no problems though. If you were to plant vining squash 1 row over it would grow over to your sunflowers and climb them though.
6 ft is a lot of space between squash. i go about 1/2 that for summer squash, maybe 4 ft between winter squash. Pole or runner beans work great with sweet corn, I plant a bean on each side of the corn plants when they are just over a foot tall.
And those sugar babies are going to sprawl all over the artichokes, you will have to constantly redirect or trim them back.
Companion planting can work well but I have often found I could not get in there to check/harvest/weed. Be mindful of how large some of these plants will get.
Good luck with your garden, sounds like you will be harvesting a lot of good food there.
I’m stuck container gardening, but one thing I’m trying with my sunflowers this year is small cucumbers for gherkin pickling. Apparently larger cucumber varieties are often too heavy for them. I might also try to sneak some lettuce or something in there later in the summer and see if they like the shade.
“O frischer Duft, o neuer Klang! Nun, armes Herze, sei nicht bang!
Nun muss sich Alles, Alles wenden.”
The funny part is, that I have never grown most of those vegetables before.
As for the watermelon, I forgot to add that I set up a trellis for them to climb, so hopefully the artichoke won't get overrun. But perhaps the trellis is not high enough, it's about 4 feet tall. This setup is different from the row one, and is outside the scope of the book (just to clarify).
My seed seller recommend one feet (30cm) between each corn, just having one line of it would then be a problem ? With the watermelon, however, they'd probably be at least two lines, all around those watermelons and their trellis.
As for the squash, the variety I plan to plant is Sweet Dumpling, and my seed supplier also recommend those 2m. However If I can plant them closer to each other, without problem, then that's more plants for me, and I'm going to be happy abut that.
It's a shame that you don't know about that book, as it's explained more thoroughly in it. Basically, you have rows, A, B and C, with plants that have specific criteria. But in between, we have "in between" rows, where spinach is sown. At some point, that spinach is chopped and kept in place so that it will mulch and feed the soil; then the rest of green "waste" you get from other rows is also kept in each rows...
I should have created another thread for my artichoke and watermelon question, as they are not in that system. What is in that system (Gertrud Franck), is plants like tomatoes, lettuces, radish, squashes, beans, carrots, most aromatics (annuals), marigolds, mustard... all plants that can be still contained enough so that you still have enough space to walk in, harvest.
Peas might be interesting for sunflowers, but perhaps they are also inhibited by what sunflowers exudes. Anyway, that could be something to try. But won't cucumber and squash risk becoming too heavy for the sunflower ?
But perhaps the small cucumbers could be planted with those sunflowers, as they should not become too heavy.
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