"I have a small area for a vegetable garden. Last year my garlic grew nicely, but I would also like to squeeze in tomato plants and pole beans.
"But last year my tomatoes were stunted and dried out. Was it because I had them next to the garlic?"
Heidi Naman, via email
o, it wasn't due to the garlic.
N I suspect your tomatoes didn't get enough water last year. It was a very long, dry, hot summer. Tomatoes and pole beans need lots of water at their roots.
But by July, garlic needs dry conditions. That's when garlic leaves start to yellow and wither.
It's a sign that the garlic bulbs are getting ready to be harvested.
If garlic is watered when it's ripening, your crop can develop rot.
It means that, just based on water requirements, tomatoes and pole beans aren't good companions for garlic.
I wonder if you could place your tomatoes at one end of the garlic rows and pole beans at the other.
That would work if you plant from north to south, because the pole beans could be put at the north end and the tomatoes at the south end.
By the time the tomato plants get big, sunlight won't be such a crucial factor for the garlic, and in any case, the sun is so high in the sky at that time of year that most areas of vegetable gardens get sun, unless very tall plants are placed to the south.
As well, you could separate the watering requirements by raising part of your veggie bed, so that the garlic could be better drained while nearby crops are being watered.
If it is just a hill (not a wooden-edged, raised bed) you could rotate crops by relocating the hill every spring.
"What is the best type of manure to use for potatoes, tomatoes, or root vegetables?"
Gerry, via email
he most important thing is that the manure is old and thoroughly composted.
One year is usually enough for it to mellow.
Two years is safer.
It's also vital to be very cautious with high-nitrogen manure around root vegetables, unless you want small roots with extravagant foliage.
Leafy crops do well with high-nitrogen feeding.
Many gar-eners in farming areas where manure is free routinely use old manure in vegetable gardens.
Horse manure is very gentle, but higher in nitrogen and potash than phosphorous. It usually has more weed seed than other manures.
Sheep and llama manure have a similar balance of ingredients. They are termed "hot" manure, which can burn roots if not thoroughly composted.
Other "hot" manures come from chickens and turkeys. They contain high phosphorous and nitrogen, but low potash.
Steer manure is very balanced, and can be used without getting an overdose of nitrogen. It's a good, all-purpose manure for almost anything.
So is pig manure: nutritionally balanced and very light.
Unfortunately, pig manure is hard to find.
Mushroom manure is generally good for vegetable gardens (though not for potatoes and other acid-soil lovers). It's quite alkaline - occasionally very alkaline - but for veggie gardens that grow moss in winter, it's a good corrective.
So my vote is for steer or pig manure, since they are nutritionally balanced and can be used for many types of vegetables.
Anne Marrison is happy to answer garden questions. Send them to her via firstname.lastname@example.org
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