We finally got that last hard freeze out of the way and it’s safe to plant the rest of our seeds, annual plants, and vegetable starts. As The Queen of Procrastination, the waiting hasn’t really bothered me. I know that many of you have had several things like peas and poppies planted for weeks.

Many gardeners spend the winter months planning their spring gardens, perusing the seed and plant catalogs that start showing up after Christmas. Veteran gardeners know if you want specific varieties of seeds, you’d better not procrastinate, or else you risk not getting the varieties you want.

While planning your garden, is your focus on beauty or are things laid out for convenience? Maybe you don’t give much thought to either of those things and plant wherever you find the space to do so. I tend to do the latter. I’m simply not a designer, whether it’s my garden or my landscape.

Many gardeners are very calculating about how they plant, using several methods, including planting by the moon and companion planting. Companion planting means using the characteristics of individual plants in a symbiotic way so that by them growing near each other, one or both plants do better.

There are several types of symbiotic relationships when it comes to living things. In the first, one plant can benefit from another without helping or harming it. And example of that would be epiphytic plants, or those that grow on other plants, like orchids on trees. The orchid benefits by having something to attach to, but it neither benefits nor hurts the tree.

In another, one plant benefits at the expense of another. Parasitic plants are this type. If you’ve ever had dodder in your garden (and I have), you’d better get it under control, because it will kill whatever it’s growing on. When you see a network of yellow or orange twining around your plants like Silly String, it’s a good bet it’s dodder.

A third type is when both plants help each other out. There are many examples of this in the garden and this is the main basis for companion planting. A common example of this is planting marigolds to attract hoverfly larvae.

Marigolds give off a scent that hoverflies like and their larvae feed on other insects that may be pests to other plants you’re growing. Other pests are repelled by the marigold’s scent. Planting these next to beans helps keep Mexican bean beetle away.

Beans and cucumbers planted next to each other is beneficial to both, and bush beans planted between strawberry rows causes both plants to grow better. Planting carrots next to chives will improve the flavor of both.

Perhaps you’ve grown a “three sisters garden.” The tradition of growing corn, pole beans, and pumpkins or other squash is said to have first been practiced by Native Americans. In the same space, when planted at appropriate times, the beans climb up the corn and the squash vines grow on the ground at the outer edges of the corn plot.

These are just a few examples of companion planting and whole books have been written about the method. If you want to know more details about how companion planting can work for you, I can recommend Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening, by Louise Riotte, and Soil Mates:Companion Planting for Your Vegetable Garden, by Sara Alway.

Read more at Kylee's blog, Our Little Acre, at www.ourlittleacre.com. Contact her on Facebook or by email at pauldingprogressgardener@gmail.com.