Our younger Twenty Something daughter called this week to report that relationships are work, that she and her boyfriend will be separated this summer because of jobs, and that it feels complicated. “Sometimes it’s easier to be single,” she said. I look out at the gardens where the Bearded One and I have been working on separate projects. Males and females can communicate, I tell her. If enough different flowers are planted between them to facilitate pollination.
This week I planned the garden according to the principles of companion planting, at least as many of them as I could absorb. One or two. The idea is that some plants help each other grow and thrive, while others will hinder. As with plants, so it is with humans. Side-by-side, ’til death, or something, do us part.
Principle One: Like the smell of your companion. So I moved the chives out of the Circle Garden to the Rings Garden with the other onions and the onion-friendly potatoes, cabbage and broccoli. Onions are pungent and affect the taste of their bedfellows, plus they stunt the growth of beans and peas. Oh, and the sweet peas came up this week. I see little hearts, while the Bearded One points out, seriously, how they look like a row of darts thrown straight down.
Principle Two: Split up the work. In the place where the chives were, on the south side of the new hoop house in the Circle Garden, I’ll plant the “Three Sisters” combination which is corn, beans and squash. The corn stalks support the pole beans, which return nitrogen to the soil that the corn leeches out, and the squash covers the ground and keeps it moist. American Indians planted this way for centuries. An image of The Three Sisters planting technique is on the reverse side of the Sacajawea dollar.
“I am my own person,” says my younger daughter, still talking about her relationship. “I am myself, an independent individual. We are two different people.” Yes, I say, so true, and with very different perspectives. While I continue my weeding and plant the snap peas and carrots (with the cabbage, broccoli, and onions), the Bearded One finishes everything about the hoop house that can be finished, but the plastic still cannot go on, he says. I am impatient for the plastic, I admit.
Principle Three: Attract sweetness and repel harm. We are watching Garfield exploring the hoop house. We really can’t train him not to go on something that’s not there yet, and so we watch him with amusement and a bit of trepidation…I wish the plastic was on, and we could be legitimately keeping him off of it.
Why can’t we put the plastic on? I ask, patiently. Not bossy. The Bearded One is in charge of this part of the project, and I am exercising my right to know.
Sometimes I like to know a reason, I say. Garfield swings from the arches.
And then the Bearded One becomes, before my very eyes, the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate from Monty Python’s Life of Brian, complete with lisp — which he’s been seeing me do for days since I saw it again on YouTube. Vewy well, he says from the deck, sweeping his hand out across the yard. I welease the Weason!
The grass is too wet and the circus tent-sized plastic will stick to itself when we lay it out Also, the wind keeps kicking up. Oh. Okay. I can wait a day. If I have to. I guess.
Garfield is a great companion to the gardens on a molecular level. Five or six a day is starting to be normal.
The mason bees aren’t active around the cookie can “hive,” but it’s still cold here. Most days lately it never makes 50 degrees. We’ll plant all kinds of flowers among the vegetables, maybe even start them in the hoop house. Next week. Once we get the plastic up. When the timing works. It’s a two-man job.