Grit Blogs > Of Mice and Mountain Men

Note to Self: Don’t Do That Again

The garden planner utility I use says that potatoes and beans are excellent companion plants.  So I decided this year to let these cohabitate in their boxes.  To maximize the companion planting benefits I planted them in a checkerboard fashion in each box.  Seemed like a good idea at the time.

And it started off pretty well, but in one box, the potato vines took off and took over.  Soon I was hard pressed to find the bean plants at all.   

Beans n Taters 1 

When I pulled the taters aside to look for beans, nearly all of the bean plants had been smothered out.  The potatoes are doing GREAT, but the beans… well, this box will not be producing beans this year.

Beans n Taters 2 

In another box I planted the beans earlier than the potatoes and they got enough of a head start that they’re holding their own.  But then, these were *supposed* to be bush beans (like the other box) but turned out to be pole beans that are climbing all over the potatoes.  I’ll need to install poles for them to dance on so they don’t molest the taters.

My biggest problem in logic here is that I’ve gotten stuck into a sort-of square foot garden method.  In SFG, we plant each square foot of soil with a different crop.  I should have put one square foot of potatoes and one square foot of beans in each of 16 different boxes – along with assorted other crops.  But taters need a lot more depth than most crops, so that wasn’t going to work unless I doubled or tripled the depth on all 16 boxes to accommodate 1 potato plant.  Or two plants in 8 boxes.

By bastardizing the system like I did I’d have been better off to just plant half a box in taters and half in beans, with a security fence between them!  I’ll do that next year.  It may not make the most of the benefits of companion planting, but it should work better than this crazy scheme.  Especially if I make sure I get bush beans.

Ah well… the best laid plans…