Crop Talk, July 11: Week 6
Companion Planting

The next time you ride the wagon to the back of the farm, you may notice tall, broad-leafed sunflowers growing in the lettuce field. They're not volunteers. We planted them there because they love the hot summer sun, and their leaves catch a lot of it, providing shade for the lettuce, which doesn't tolerate the heat so well.

Companion planting -- growing different plants that help each other in the same space -- is a sustainable technique that farmers have used for centuries. Native Americans, for example, often planted corn, beans, and squash in the same plots because the beans fixed nitrogen for the corn, the corn provided climbing poles for the beans, and the squash acted like living mulch, covering the soil with its wide leaves so weeds didn't grow.

Here's what Rodale's Organic Life says about companion planting:

"Organic gardeners know that a diverse mix of plants makes for a healthy and  beautiful garden . Many believe that certain plant combinations have extraordinary (even mysterious) powers to help each other grow. Scientific study of the process, called companion planting, has confirmed that some combinations have real benefits unique to those combinations. And practical experience has demonstrated to many gardeners how to mate certain plants for their mutual benefit. C ompanions help each other grow—tall plants, for example, provide shade for sun-sensitive shorter plants. And the technique  uses garden space efficiently.  Vining plants cover the ground, upright plants grow up, allowing for two plants in the same patch.  Companions also prevent pest problems. Plants like onions repel pests, and other plants can lure pests away from more delicate plants. Or one plant may attract the predators of another plant's pests."

Read more here.

What’s going on in the Big Red Barn on Sunday mornings? Classes in Canine Parkour and Confidence Foundations for dogs, of course!

Canine Parkour is a sport in which you turn your surroundings into an environmental agility course. You and your dog will begin to see neighborhood walks in a whole new way. A park bench becomes an opportunity to practice “2 paws up," and a tree becomes the perfect obstacle for a “go around!" You’ll discover things to go under, over, through and in, and balancing on curbstones and landscape timbers will be a walk in the park.

In Confidence Foundations we pay particular attention to communication with our dogs, building skills for on-leash and off-leash cooperation. Your dog will become more sure-footed as we observe the way he navigates labyrinths, hoops, cavalettis, textures, and more. We'll improve balance and coordination using bodywork, body wraps, and thoughtful movement.

These classes are part of Joyful Dog LLC’s Great Country Fidos offerings. We’re accepting registrations for our final four-week summer term, which begins on July 31. Canine Parkour is at 9:30 Sunday mornings, and Confidence Foundations is at 11:00. Tuition is $108 for farm members for each four-week term, and $140 for non-members.

Joyful Dog also offers private training in good manners for puppies and adult dogs, Tellington TTouch, and behavioral issues by appointment at the farm, or in your home. Call 703-554-2384 to register.

Great Country Farms | 540-554-2073 | CSA@GreatCountryFarms.com | www.GreatCountryFarms.com