Companion Planting

Plants don't make a sound, and you'd think that their world was all peace and harmony. Not so — among plants there are definite friends and enemies. Some plants protect each other from insect infestations, while others provide shade for their friends. Still others just like each other and grow better if they are neighbours. In hydroponics, you will probably be asking two or more plants to grow happily together. Here is the list. Keep the friends and enemies apart.

Bean Plant

Plant

Friends

Enemies anise asparagus basil, sweet bean, bush

coriander

basil

parsley

tomato

asparagus

rue

beet

fennel

cabbage

garlic

carrot

onion

cauliflower

rue

cucumber

shallot

potato

summer savory

strawberry

bean, pole beet borage broccoli

Brussels sprouts cabbage camomile caraway carrot carrot cauliflower corn, sweet cucumber radish savory bean, bush cabbage chive kohlrabi lettuce onion shallot strawberry cabbage tomato tomato bean, bush beet broccoli camomile celery dill lettuce mint potato sage cabbage bean, bush bean, pole chive leek lettuce onion pea potato radish rosemary sage tomato beet fennel garlic kohlrabi onion shallot bean, pole bean, pole strawberry tomato fennel dill cauliflower celeriac celery chervil chives coriander corn, sweet cucumber dill fennel bean, bush bean, pole tomato bean, bush cauliflower cabbage leek tomato bean, bush cabbage cauliflower leek tomato radish beet carrot anise bean, bush bean, pole cucumber pea potato pumpkin squash bean, bush bean, pole pea radish sunflower cabbage pea fennel aromatic herbs potato sage carrot tomato bean, bush bean, pole caraway coriander kohlrabi tomato garlic grape hyssop kale kohlrabi leek lettuce parsley pea beet onion hyssop grape tomato beet carrot celeriac celery onion beet cabbage carrot cucumber onion radish strawberry beet carrot garlic kohlrabi lettuce savory strawberry tomato asparagus tomato bean carrot corn, sweet cucumber potato radish turnip bean, bush bean, pole pea radish bean, pole fennel tomato bean, bush bean, pole pea garlic onion shallot pumpkin radish rosemary rue sage summer savory shallot spinach squash strawberry sunflower tomato turnip corn, sweet bean, pole carrot chervil cucumber lettuce nasturtium pea sage cabbage rosemary bean, bush beet strawberry com nasturtium bean, bush borage lettuce onion spinach cucumber asparagus carrot chive kale marigold nasturtium nettle, stinging onion parsley pea potato hyssop sweet basil cucumber bean, bush bean, pole pea cabbage potato cabbage dill fennel kohlrabi

Garden Flowers and House Plants

This chapter has concentrated on vegetables and the next will centre on herbs. But let's not forget flowers and house plants. Anything that blossoms in a dirt garden or flower pot will do even better in a hydroponic planter, summer or winter, from asters to zinnias. The same holds true for house plants. They are children of the tropics and survive in our latitudes mostly in a state of permanent hibernation. Both seeds and transplants do extremely well in hydroponics, and it is amazing to watch them grow in a fertile environment in much the same way as they would in the tropics. House plants use much less water than vegetables or flowers, but because of the excellent aeration properties of a hydroponic medium your plants can never be overwatered. This is the most common cause of death among potted house plants. Again, keep friends and enemies apart. Consult a companion planting guide book specifically for flower and house plants. When seeding flowers, you are probably better off with varieties that grow up to 9 or 12 inches because in hydroponics they will grow twice as high. Flowers that grow over 12 inches in soil gardens will be too unwieldy grown hydroponically. Many rules which apply to vegetables will also apply to houseplants.

Remove the plant from its container and gently wash the soil from the roots with cold tap water. The cold water tends to anesthetize the plant against shock. Add sufficient growing medium to the container so that the plant will sit at the same depth as previously.

Use plain water in the container for 10 to 14 days. This forces the root system to spread out and develop in its search for nutrient in its new environment. Begin the nutrient solution at 10 to 14 days, or sooner if the leaves become pale green or yellow. Mark your calendar when you begin using nutrient solution and use it for one month. Switch over to plain water for a month, flushing the planter with barely lukewarm water to keep it sweet and fresh for your plant. This removes salt and mineral build-up, which appears as a white crystalline formation, from the medium. Let it drain and then replace with fresh water. Do not use water from a water softener as it is too alkaline. Continue to alternate nutrient solution one month with water the next.

Ifyou are transplanting a flowering plant, it will probably lose all of its flowers and buds upon transplanting but will in all likelihood still survive.

Hydroponics

"Car

Fresh Herbs

In our unthinking acceptance of highly processed convenience foods, we have almost forgotten those magical plants that have served man' kind for thousands of years by pleasing the sense of smell, helping the digestion and lending their special flavours to food. Commercial chemists are still trying in vain to match these tastes and aromas. The expensive dried herbs that can be bought at the supermarket in fancy little bottles are only a pale echo of the real thing. Most of the vitamins, fragrance and flavour have been lost in processing and exposure to air.

In a hydroponic garden, it is possible to raise all kinds of herbs. These can be included in a large system that supports other plants, as long as friends and enemies are kept apart, or you can raise them separately in a smaller herb garden. Lights aren't always necessary for indoor growing. A sunny window with a southern or western exposure should make it possible to grow satisfactory crops. Not only that, but a small kitchen garden full of colourful and fragrant herbs is a charming addition to any cooking area. Outdoors, of course, herbs thrive.

The most important herbs for cooking are: basil, chive, chervil, dill, lovage, marjoram, Oregano, parsley (curly or plain), sage, savory, tarragon and thyme. There are many others you might want to try, and for obtaining more exotic seeds, see the Resource List at the end of this book. Just remember, for seeding indoors and out, don't put more than four or five different herbs in a single planter or they get too crowded. Always plant two seeds per location and thin out the losers. Don't throw them away; save them, stems and all, for soups or salads. When planning' the layout of your kitchen garden, place the tall herbs in the rear and the lower ones in the front to make harvesting easier.

Some herbs, tarragon for example, have a very poor germination rate. You would be wise to plant four or five seeds where you want only one plant. Other kinds, like parsley, are slow to sprout. For these herbs, you may want to start up more quickly with transplants or cuttings. Because of its tall and narrow "leaves," chive can be seeded close together, almost as you would sow grass seed. Most herbs, such as basil and sage, germinate very quickly.

The information given below will help you germinate and harvest your herbs. The growing time to the first cut you make in the Herb Yields chart includes the germinating time shown in the Planting Guide. All of these plants can last from four to eight months before they need replanting. Some can last as long as twelve months, if the plants and unit are kept clean.

HERB PLANTING GUIDE

Dark Covers

Clear Covers

Days for Germinating

Anise

7-10

Basil

Borage

Camomile

Chervil Chive

Coriander

Dill

Fennel

Lemon Balm

Marjoram

Mint Mustard

6-10

10-14

Onion

Oregano

Parsley

Rosemary

Sage

Savory Sorrel

Tarragon

Thyme

Watercress

Growing Time Yield (ounces)

Variety

1st Cut

Replacement

1st Cut

Replacement

Basil

9-14 days

4-7 days

9

15

Chervil

12-16

7

5

8

Chive

15-20

7-10

3

5-8

Coriander

15-20

7

5

8

Dill

12-15

5-7

5

8

Marjoram

12-15

5-7

4

5

Mint

24-30

7-10

6

10

Onion (seed)

10-15

7-10

5

7-10

Oregano

13-18

4-7

4

5

Parsley

13-18

7

5

8

Rosemary

15-24

10

6

8

Sage

12-18

6-9

8

12

Savory

14-20

7-10

8

12

Sorrel

14-19

7-10

8

12

Tarragon

20-30

10

5

8

Thyme

18-24

7-10

3

5

Watercress

12-15

6-10

5

8

This information was kindly supplied to me by Applied Hydroponics of Canada, Montreal.

This information was kindly supplied to me by Applied Hydroponics of Canada, Montreal.

If you've never tried cooking with fresh herbs, aside from parsley which seems to be about all we use these days, then you are in for a pleasant surprise. An indication of the startling difference between fresh and dry herbs can be gotten by doing a small test. Go to your spice rack and smell the contents of the jar of dried marjoram leaves, then crush a fresh leaf between your fingers and bring it to your nose. You should now be completely hooked on growing and using fresh herbs.

Cooking with fresh herbs needn't be confined to gourmet dishes; everyday meals will benefit greatly from their use, particularly with bland vegetables like potatoes and lima beans. Recipes will be provided in the next chapter for both kinds of dishes. To whet your appetite, though, remember that whatever kind of meal you are serving, hydroponics will make it possible to have a fresh green salad winter or summer.

BASIL

Basil has a special affinity for tomatoes. It is the secret that accounts for many delicious southern Italian dishes containing tomatoes, such as spaghetti and ravioli sauces. Northern Italy is famous forpesto butter, that lovely pasta cream made with fresh basil. This herb will lend a new and interesting flavour to practically all foods. It is one of the few herbs that actually increases in flavour when cooked. Try sprinkling fresh, chopped basil on a tomato salad.

CHERVIL

Chervil improves the flavour of any herb with which it is mixed, making it a constant ingredient in the finesherbes of French cooking. Chervil's mild flavour makes generous use necessary. Sprinkle it on peas, spinach, tomatoes and eggplant before serving. It tastes best if added to foods that don't need cooking. Using it in a soup or sauce means it should be added last and the dish should only be allowed to boil once more. For special occasions, use two or three good handfuls of fresh chervil in French chervil soup.

CHIVE

The smallest of the onion tribe, chive has a subtle flavour. It is one of the best culinary herbs, making fatty foods more digestible and giving a special piquancy to almost anything. In melted butter or sour cream, chive is the finishing touch to mashed, boiled or baked potatoes. It is excellent when used on salads, soups, in cottage cheese, devilled eggs or in the famous Green Sauce that will be given later. Chive can't be dried. Mind you, dried chive is being sold, but one taste of each kind will show what I mean. For breakfast, fold fresh, chopped chive into scrambled eggs halfway through the proceedings.

DILL

The lacy leaves of dill are delicately aromatic and when finely chopped yield a very special, sharp and interesting flavour. There are three main uses for dill: with fish (particularly in sauces), for flavouring bland vegetables like peas and potatoes, and in seed form for pickling cucumbers and cabbage. Try sprinkling fresh, chopped dill on a cucumber salad.

Dill grows tall and graceful (two to three feet) and other things can be planted beneath it. However, don't grow dill next to fennel: they cross-pollinate and produce strange and useless offspring that are neither dill nor fennel.

LOVAGE

This giant herb has a strong scent reminiscent of yeast or the famous soup extract, Maggi. It gives strength to soups, stews, casseroles, salads and mixed vegetables. This extraordinary herb deserves a bit of experimenting. Lovage is an important flavouring for some vegetarians, for it provides the tastes normally associated with meat or soup bones. For everyday use, put finely chopped lovage in or on a soup. The aromatic seeds can also be used.

MARJORAM Sweet marjoram has a milder and slightly different flavour than its cousin, wild marjoram (oregano). It is a meat herb and benefits pork, veal, lamb, poultry, venison and sausages. Sweet marjoram is good in such diverse foods as stuffings, omelets, Bloody Marys and cottage cheese. Put fresh, chopped marjoram in your next poultry stuffing.

OREGANO I his herb is a favourite in Italian, Spanish and Mexican dishes. Its hot flavour is best in tomato dishes, spaghetti, pizza, hamburgers, meat loaf, .sauces, stews and stuffings. Tomato or bean soup is much improved by the addition of a small quantity of Oregano. Oregano in cooking is as old as the Greek hills where it originated, and it has both stimulating and medicinal properties. For a flavour-ful dish, cook chopped, fresh Oregano leaves in a spaghetti sauce.

Companion Planting ChartHydroponicsOregano Companion Planting Chart

To make the plant spread, keep snipping the buds of the top leaf growth.

PARSLEY

Parsley underlines the taste of food. It has a remarkable gift for overcoming strong odours on the breath, even the powerful garlic is largely neutralized by it. In large amounts, it is a good natural tranquilizer. The finely chopped leaves are added twice in cooking; at the beginning when other flavours are brought out, and again shortly before serving. For everyday use, sprinkle chopped parsley on buttered, boiled new potatoes.

Parsley is a carefree crop, but very slow to germinate. An old tale claims that the seeds must go to the devil and back nine times before sprouting, so don't give up.

SAGE

The beautiful gray-green leaves of this wisest of all the mints is a must in every kitchen. The ancients thought it prolonged life, the Chinese love it as a tea for medicinal purposes and the modern family uses this incredibly fragrant herb on a modest scale in cheese dishes and sausages. With pork and fatty meats, sage is almost indispensable because it aids in digestion. Who would ever think of stuffing the Christmas turkey without using it? For everyday use, any stuffing will benefit from sage.

SAVORY

The traditional use of savory in bean dishes had its origin in making them easier to digest. Savory also gives its distinct and attractive flavour to stuffings, meat pies and sausages. Its fresh tops can be cooked with peas, lentils and beans of all kinds. Every kind of uncooked salad benefits from savory. A few leaves added to the water when cooking Brussels sprouts or cabbage improve their flavour and reduce cooking odour. For everyday use, cook fresh, chopped sa-very with lentils or broad beans.

TARRAGON Tarragon is the king of all culinary herbs and has had a most distinguished career, particularly in French cuisine. It is used freely, chopped in salad dressings, sprinkled over salads and main dishes such as steak or fish, and on all vegetables. Melted butter with chopped tarragon or tarragon sauces are excellent company for delicate vegetables such as mushrooms, eggplant or asparagus. Try tarragon in fish and poultry stuffings and in marinades. For everyday use, put fresh, chopped tarragon in a sour cream salad dressing.

The best tarragon is the French or True tarragon. It can only be raised by propagation. The Russian tarragon that is found in seed packages is a poor second to the French variety.

Companion Planting Chart

THYME

You would almost think thyme was the twin sister of sage, since they go so well together. The beautiful, broad, dark green leaves of the English variety and the narrow gray-green leaves of the French type are the most flavourful and popular of all thymes. In early Greek and Roman days it was used on the body as an antiseptic. Today, however, it is without equal as an additive for soups, sauces and stuffing. Few serious cooks would think of preparing pork, lamb or chowder without a hint of thyme. Try some fresh, I hopped thyme on onion soup.

Hydroponics
Herbs 101

Herbs 101

Learn what you can do with herbs! How to Plant, Grow, and Cook with Natural Herbs. Have you always wanted an herb garden but didn't know how to get started? Do you want to know more about growing your own herbs in the privacy of your home and using them in a variety of cooking?

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment