Know Your Plants Before you Plant

There's an old and wise saying that starts off something to the effect of an ounce of prevention goes a long way... or something like that.  This couldn't be more true for growing plants.  At the start of each new season I stress to the garden crew how important it is to know the needs of your plants before you put that first seed into the soil (and of course, as we talked about in previous posts, it's critical to know your soil).  Each vegetable, herb and flower has unique requirements and if you want to grow the best of the best, you must plant according to their needs.

Let's look at spinach and snap peas for instance.  Spinach requires moderate levels of macro-nutrients (think NPK) and enjoys it cool (a good rule of thumb is to plant spinach only in the spring for a early summer harvest and late summer for a fall harvest; if you try to grow spinach in the middle of summer...you might not have much luck).  Snap peas also like it cool and can be planted the same time as Spinach.  A cool thing about snap peas is that they are also a nitrogen-fixer - adding nitrogen to the soil: a nutrient in demand by spinach!  Also, if you are familiar with how snap peas grow, they grow up a trellis about 4 to 5 feet tall depending on the variety.

Knowing these tid-bits, we plant snap peas and spinach together (a method referred to as companion planting).  We'll plant the snap peas on one side of the planting bed and our spinach on the other side (so that as the snap peas grow, they will shade the soil behind it where the spinach is growing - keeping a nice cool environment for the spinach).  Win-win!

(Picture: snap peas will climb up our trellis and spinach has been planted on the right of the trellis)

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