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Here it is, the end of November already. I can’t believe it has flown by so fast.
We’re about to sit down to a big meal and a day of rubbing elbows with kin. It doesn’t matter if you like them or not, you’re family, you’re going to spend the day with them, so don’t stress. One day does not a lifetime make.
Thanksgiving is all about family and believe it or not, yours is not the only one there. Vegetables have families, too, and they didn’t get to the table by hanging out together. They have their own likes and dislikes.
Like our own families, they share certain traits. They each have their own cultural requirements in order to grow. They share the same flowering structure and pollination habits. Each family also attracts the same pests and disease.
If you have trouble with one member in the garden, chances are you’ll have the same problem with a brother or sister in the same family. The vegetable family tree has several big branches and here are the main ones.
The Solanaceae family (known commonly as nightshade) is one of my favorites. Tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplant are all in the nightshade family. I’m also fond of the Cucurbitaceae family of melons, gourds, squash and cucumber.
The Umbelliferae family includes celery, carrot, dill, chervil, cilantro, parsley, fennel and parsnip. The Leguminosae family (we call them legumes) includes beans, peas and peanuts. The Amaryllidaceae family has garlic, leeks, onions and chives. The Brassicaceae family (cold crops to most folks) includes broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, radish and more.
Just like at our annual gatherings, rotating who sits next to whom makes a big difference in the final outcome. In the house it’s called saving your sanity, in the garden it’s called companion planting. Let’s look at mix of families.
Did you know that beans do well with corn, thrive when grown with carrots, but they hate onions? Peas hate them, too. Broccoli likes onions and potatoes, but not tomatoes, beans or strawberries.
Carrots love tomatoes and lettuce, but don’t want to be anywhere near dill. Potatoes grow well with beans and corn, but they can’t stand pumpkins, melons, tomatoes, squash or cucumbers. Radish gets along with most all of the families, except it cannot abide its brother, the cabbage. Go figure.
So, we’re not the only families out there who have trouble being next to each other for long periods of time. Eventually though, we all end up together, and it all works out in the end. Need proof? Can you imagine a broccoli casserole without the onions on top?
Thanksgiving is our annual day to give thanks for the blessings of the past year. It’s a time to celebrate our differences and recognize our common traits. Getting to know all the members in your families (vegetables included) makes you wiser in the end.
You may love sitting next to Uncle Fred at the table, but after all that broccoli and a dozen deviled eggs, you may not want to watch the game on the couch with him, unless you brought nose plugs. Wiser is better.
Now, go find some humor in something, it’s a great stress reliever. Happy Thanksgiving and happy growing.
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