Science Daily: True Love Between Grass and Clover This is really a 3-way, and possibly 4-way love affair. Clover grows better in the presence of grass, and grass grows better in the presence of clover. Being a legume, clover roots provide shelter and food for bacteria that convert nitrogen gas in the air, into organic nitrogen forms. Plant growth is partly limited by shortage of organic nitrogen, so the increase in that substance results in faster and larger growth. The extra supply of organic nitrogen stimulates the grasses. It's not clear why the grasses stimulate the clover. There is a hint that root dwelling fungi (mycorrhizal fungi) are involved. Mycorrhizal fungi are known to stimulate other plants and provide plants with a nutrient "internet". Mycorrhizal fungi make plants more drought and disease resistant, and stimulate growth.
Remember the old tales of Native Americans growing corn, beans, and squash together? That's another legume/grass interaction. I don't know if the squash adds to the plant nutritional synergism, but probably receives nitrogen from the bean roots.
That reminds me, I should get some rhizobium inoculant. Rhizobium is the bacterium that legumes use to produce nitrogen. Maybe it's already in the soil - I do have wild clovers in my yard. There are also mycorrhizal inoculants. There are big claims for those - i don't know if they are reality or myth. It may just be that a well tended, richly organic soil, stimulates and nurtures the native mycorrhizal fungi. The linked wikipedia article states that commercial mycorrhizal inoculant may outcompete the locally adapted one - I don't know if that's good or bad.
Synergy is a newer name, for the old gardeners' idea of companion planting. I can usually figure out what one plant is getting from the combo, but not the other. For example, I plant onion- and garlic- family plants (various Allium species) around fruit trees, to bring in beneficial insects that love the flowers, and in hope that I will partially deter mammalian annoyances (deer, moles). I don't know what the alliums get from it.
Seeds of CHange has a nice article about companion planting. This article from Cornell University takes a more academic approach, but has lots of advice. For example, some advice I follow, more or less: "Plant dill, marigolds, chives, onions, parsley, basil and other flowers throughout the garden. Allow parsley, carrot and celery to remain in the ground over the winter. They will produce flowers the second season and attract beneficial insects. Also, plant strong smelling herbs among vegetable crops."
I should re-read "Carrots Love Tomatoes", an old garden book on this topic. It will help with garden planning for next year. There's also this Mother Earth News article. A lot of this is collected garden wisdom, not always based on research. But experience can count for a lot.
I like your comment and book recommendations. Little tricks make big differences. Even in cooking. When I make any kind of stock, vegetable, chicken, beef, or fish, I use fresh parsley stems, not leaves during the sock making time. Leaves, cooked for a long time, bring out bitter flavors. When I make soup from stock, I add chopped herbs on top of a bowl of soup. Yumm.
Re-reading the companion planting book. Also a good book, Raised Vegetable Bed Handbook for the Organic Garden, by Ian Gomersall, which has illustrations. Down to earth (literally and figuratively), no nonsense, practical.
Some of the companion planting info gets complicated. I want to simplify it. Diversity is key.
I think I will border the tomatoes with basil (listed as excellent for companion planting with tomatoes), and maybe chives or garlic chives, or scallions. Parsley is also listed as doing well with tomatoe. In the more vertical bed (north of the lower bed), Looks like corn does well with beans and cucumbers, which can be planted on trellis. Just thinking at this point.
In the walkways between the beds, I'm thinking about mint, yarrow, clover. Oregano, marjoram. Whatever is aromatic and can handle some walking and mowing. Plus, the clover and grass together makes use of this information.
The soup sounds good! I'll have a use for parsley stems! The leaves can go into some tabbouleh! Which can also use the nearby-growing tomatoes and mint.
A wonderful garden plan, full of flavors and aromas to walk in and snatch leaves for nibbling. Would love to wander through.
I harvest parley by cutting it to the ground, wash in cold water, cut off healthy leaves and dry them on my homemade dryer and store in glass jars, usually old spice jars. I cut the young stems, dry them, and store them in their own glass gars. I cut stems to the depth of its jar. Don't use leaves in long cooking processes, they tend to make the stock bitter. Stems give the flavor of parsley without the bitterness.
When I make stock, I grab a dozen or so dried young parsley stems and throw them in with the Mirepoix, the "holy trinity", (2 parts onions, 1 part carrots, 1 part celery, cut into small dice).
If I want brown stock, I roast bones and mirepoix in a roasting pan for an hour at 450 degrees.
Beef stock, put bones and mirepoix, roasted or unroasted, into a soup kettle, cover to 2 inches cold water over top of bones, add Bouquet Garni (1 bay leaf, 2 fresh thyme sprigs, 5-6 whole peppercorns, 6-8 parsley stems, 4 cloves garlic, 1 T tomato paste), simmer for 8 hours.
Chicken and poultry stock, put bones and mirepoix, roasted or unroasted, into a soup kettle, cover to 2 inches of water over top of bones, add Bouquet Garni (1 bay leaf, 2 fresh thyme sprigs, 5-6 whole peppercorns, 6-8 parsley stems) simmer for 2 to 2 1/2hours;
Fish stock, in a soup kettle, brown in butter, fish bones, 2 parts onions, 1 stalk celery, cover to 2 inches over top of bones with water and/or dry white wine (I use dry vermouth), simmer 1 hour.
Source: Char Zyskowski, Taste & Technique: Basic Cooking Classes
Sorry, this should be in the cooking site, but there are so many garden products in here, I am posting it here in Godless in the Garden.