Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Planting in Guilds and a new CHILDREN'S BOOK!

Chris and I have been talking for some time about writing a series of children's books that promotes sustainable living. I know, I know... We are a little crazy! But today I finished the first draft of a children's book that does just that! AND it's awesome.

The main character for our series is Hortense the Honey Bee and the stories are about her adventures as a forager. (Before you go all "what-kind-of-a-name-is-Hortense" on me, let me explain... Hortense comes from the latin word meaning Garden... plus I like old fashioned names:-))

The first book is called "Hortense the Honey Bee and the Giant Tomato Tree," and while I am NOT going to publish it here on the blog I do want to say that I love personification! AND I love how I was able to creatively tie in concepts like companion and guild planting and beneficial insects into it, without sounding too "Hippy," as my dad calls it. If you are interested in hearing more, leave me a comment below or visit my art blog!
I sketched this out while I was writing the book... I know the "tomato tree" looks more like an apple tree., BUT it's supposed to be a tomato tree, so use your imagination! 

Just in case you were wondering what I mean by companion/guild planting, I'll explain. Companion and guild planting is where you put a group of different plants together to help support each other. For example, Onions and Tomatoes grow really well together. Beans, Corn and Squash are also a great little guild. My favorite (simply because I love Cherries) is a Cherry Tree Guild. I'll be posting on that later!

Let me explain further. You plant beans with corn and squash because the beans fix nitrogen, and corn is a heavy nitrogen eater and the squash acts as a ground cover that keeps weeds out, and it enjoys the nitrogen as well. Plus the corn stalks are a built-in trellis for your beans! They all work together to make a crop that is bigger, and healthier than it would have been if they were planted on their own.

If you have a plant that is susceptible to a fungus, plant it with one that has antifungal properties. If your plants are famous for attracting the wrong sort of insect, plant it with one that either repels the delinquent insect, or that attracts a predator for the delinquent. You get the idea.

All things work together in nature. You just have to help them out sometimes.