Season 3, Week Two Column: “Garden of Companions”

Groundhog Hill is situated atop a knoll on Gypsy Acres, our family farm owned by my sister Paula. My maternal grandparents, Paul and Pearl Daugherty Enlow considered themselves gypsies based on their many re-locations, hence, the name they gave their farm. The name stuck, and Paul and Pearl enjoyed many wonderful years together there.

As a little kid, I always thought of Gypsy Acres as “Grandma & Papa’s farm.” That was its name. I didn’t really hear of Groundhog Hill until junior high or high school when I learned that it was a kind of a notorious spot for that eternal teenage ritual: Parking.

Since I started writing about the garden there, I’ve heard from several high school classmates who’ve said things to me like, “Oh, I know where Groundhog Hill is.” Or, “Sure, I’ve been there lots of times.”

Interesting! Very interesting! {eyebrows raised}

Today, Groundhog Hill is known for a different sort of companionship: Companion Planting.

Several years and several gardens ago, Dad gifted me with a terrific book called Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening by Louise Riotte.

Carrots Love Tomatoes:  A great book on Companion Planting.

Carrots Love Tomatoes: A great book on Companion Planting.

This book (and Dad) have taught me to plant the garden wisely by locating certain vegetables next to each other to either keep the away bugs or to help improve the taste. For example, carrots and tomatoes both benefit from being planted next to one another.

Green Beans are greatly improved by Marigolds grown alongside them. No need for insecticide as the perfume of the flowers keeps the bugs away.

Conversely, some veggies don’t like one another at all. Cucumbers don’t like Potatoes or aromatic Herbs. Beets don’t do well next to Pole Beans.

For me, I have further distilled this theory: If foods taste good together, they probably grow well together. Tomatoes and Basil. Check. Corn and Basil. Double Check. Green Beans and Green Onions. Triple Check. Beets and Carrots. Quadruple Check!

A certain fowl has a fondness for Groundhog Hill, as well. Several times in the last week, I’ve seen this wild turkey (along with a companion or two) hot-trotting out of the garden as I pull up in the truck. I assume this bird has a taste for worms (and hopefully, not Purple Corn Seed).

No groundhog sightings yet, but the black angus cattle have returned to graze in the pasture next door. As always, they remain aloof and appear oblivious to my greetings (and to my shouts of “Oh. My. Aching. Back!”)

Meanwhile at Dad’s house, my paternal and fraternal companions and I have been enjoying the first of the Spring Onions, Spinach, and Red Leaf Lettuce grown in the house garden.

These companions are also of the homegrown variety, reared by the same two expert gardeners who tended us with loving care, and most of the time, we play very well together….just like Beets and Carrots.

More later….

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About Surfing Hollywood

Steve La Rue is an internationally recognized leader in Film & Television with 20+ years experience as a Development Executive championing such series as Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The X-Files, The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Battlestar Galactica, and Farscape. He writes, blogs, and consults on All Things TransMedia from his home at the beach in Santa Monica, CA, where he balances his life by surfing every damn day.
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