The Secret Garden

Written by Aleda Collins

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I live in a suburban neighborhood with very strict rules about landscape and property use. It is required to get approval from the neighborhood to paint your house, pave your driveway, and even remove potentially dangerous trees! Even worse–there are no gardens allowed! Container plants are great, but I have made it my goal to transform a hidden corner behind the garage into a make-shift ‘raised’ garden bed so I can incorporate companion planting into my practices. Companion planting is placing varieties of plants in a close proximity as to benefit each other throughout their lives. Benefits that come from companion planting include pest control, nutrients, or habitat for helpful critters.

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So far, there is a 10 foot by 2 foot patch of land backed up to the house, lined with planks of wood that act as the walls of the garden bed. The walls are about 3 inches tall from the ground, just enough to pass as a raised bed. I have started the germination process with sage, oregano, basil, parsley, sweet mint, white onion chives, potato, and watermelon seeds. All of the herbs will be transplanted to this make-shift garden bed, whereas only one or two watermelon and potato plants will be transplanted and the rest will be given away to family and friends that are able to grow crops on their property. I chose to mainly produce an herb garden because herbs typically don’t grow to be too big, and subtlety is a priority.

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Basil is said to improve the quality of neighboring herbs, as well as repel flies and mosquitos. Mint also repels mosquitos, aphids, and ants while attracting bees (Dyer, 2021)! The list of beneficial properties of herbs and other crops is endless, but the important thing to remember is to do your research before companion planting because some plants don’t like to leave near each other such as basil and sage. For that reason, they will be on the opposite sides of my herb garden.

Gardening comes in so many forms, and being creative with the space that you have can lead you to a successful harvest. I am eager to see how herbs grow alongside each other compared to in separate containers, and to see if I can get away with my secret garden.