Plants Need Friends:
Vegetable Garden Companions
It simply makes good sense to have friends. Friends support us, make good companions, offer advice and lift our spirits when we’re down. It’s really not much different in the vegetable garden: companions can help thwart stress, minimize pest invasions and avoid “fights” by keeping some plants away from each other.
Most gardeners are aware of the many beneficial insects that help patrol for unwanted pests. The best ones to consider include ladybird beetles, lacewings, mantids, spiders and predatory mites. Planting parsley, dill, basil and fennel will offer habitat for these beneficial insects and arachnids at various stages in their life cycle. Planting some clover or buckwheat will also attract bees for plants that need pollinators.
Native Americans planted the “three sister”—corn, squash and pole beans in proximity to each other because they could share the same growing space. The corn provides a trellis for the beans while the squash grows low and helps repress weeds and retain moisture by covering the ground. Be aware that competition for nutrients will still exist so fertilize regularly. If you plow the spent crops back into the soil you’ll return nitrogen and other nutrients for the next season.
The old adage that marigolds repel some rests is true and false. The greatest benefit from marigolds is as a cover crop that is then plowed into the garden soil where chemicals are released that have been proven to repel nematodes. As far as a ring of marigolds stopping pests—not likely although bees will like you and you’ll likely smile whenever you see the marigolds in bloom so go ahead and plant them!
Though there is little scientific evidence regarding the planting of certain veggies with one another compared to the mounds of anecdotal evidence and charts of pairings and the like, there are some known influential matches. Here are just a few of the more common ones: Keep beans away from onions and gladiolus but plant them with carrots and beets. Plant melons and cukes among corn and the vining plants will like the shade and the corn will like having weeds kept down and ground moisture preserved.
Tomatoes must be kept away from all Cole crops (cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, etc.) and they also dislike potatoes and fennel. Plant garlic between tomatoes and you’ll protect them from red spider mites. Tomatoes will protect roses from black spot. If you have roses but can’t plant tomatoes nearby, make up a spray for the roses. Use 5 parts water, 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and tomato leaves. Blend them on high in a blender, strain and spray your roses.
Another problem tomatoes face—and young plants of many varieties are cut worms and slugs. An easy and inexpensive solution is to ring your plants with diatomaceous earth! Seen under a microscope, diatomaceous earth or “fuller’s earth” will look spiny which is why cut worms and slugs are repelled—they get all sliced up. You could also sink tin cans two or three inches into the ground around each plant as a protective collar if you have only a few plants to guard.
In closing, do a Google search for “pests and plants that repel them” or “plants helping other plants” or “plants harming other plants” or “beneficial garden insects” and you’ll find many sites that will take you further on the journey to be more natural in your approach to warding off garden problems.
May 20th Update
Q: I have a garage of old tools that belonged to my granddad. Some are even to repair Model T automobiles. I have been told that vintage tools are collectible. -- Steve, West Pueblo, Colo.
A: One of the better references is the "Antique Trader Tools Price Guide" by Clarence Blanchard and published by Krause. Some of the values listed are a handsaw manufactured by Henry Disston & Sons, $1,210; a plow plane from 1884, $14,300; a plumb and level with wooden arch and lead plumb bob, $440; early hatchet, $50; miniature brace, Dutch origin, $120; and a box of letter stamps, set of 27, A to Z plus &, $33.
As you can clearly see, tool chests have become treasure chests, especially if they are filled with older, desirable tools. A good source to buy and sell older tools is Brown Auction Services, 27 Fickett Road, Pownal ME 04069.
Q: I have a partial set of Sakura china in the Laredo pattern. Although I originally had a complete service for 12, I have managed to break several plates, cups and saucers during the past 20 or so years. I really like this pattern and would like to replace my missing pieces. Can you help me? -- Terry, Bluffton, S.C.
A: Your pattern was discontinued during the late 1990s. Replacements, Inc. is the go-to source for missing pieces of sterling flatware, china and crystal. I checked the company's website and found several pieces, including a cup and saucer for $9.99; a 9-inch vegetable bowl, $79.95; and a dinner plate, $23.99. The toll-free number is 800-737-5223.
Q: I have an opportunity to buy a recording by Caruso, "Chanson de Noel," issued by Victor on its red seal label. I can buy it for $50. Deal or not? -- Carl, Ramona, Calif.
A: Your record was cut just before Christmas of 1916 and is valued in the $5 to $15 range, depending on condition. Most Caruso recordings are not as rare as many people have been led to believe. The ones to look for are his Zonophone recordings, which can sell for upward of $1,000 each, depending on selection and, again, condition. My advice is to pass on the "deal."
May 12th Update
Q: My dad was in the Vietnam War, and I have a $5 Military Payment Certificate from 1961. I have been offered $50 for it. -- Bob, East St. Louis, Mo.
A: According to "Vietnam War Collectibles" by David Doyle, U.S. personnel in Vietnam were not paid in cash, but rather in scrip known as Military Payment Certificates (MPC). This was done in an effort to curb black-market activities. When leaving Vietnam, troops could exchange pay certificates for regular U.S. currency.
Doyle values your $5 MPC at $125. Of special interest to collectors are those numbered 591, 611, 641, 651, 661, 681, 691, 692 and 701. Beware of reproductions, because some have popped up, especially at military shows.
Q: I have collected Fenton Glass for several decades, and now find I have gathered more than 300 pieces. About a third of my collection is "Carnival Glass" from the 1920s and '30s, which I found at local estate sales and flea markets. Since I am thinking of downsizing, I wonder what would be the best way to liquidate my collection for the best price. -- Kathryn, Spring Branch, Texas
A: Since there are dozens of antiques dealers in both Dallas and Houston, I would begin by seeing if there is any interest in your immediate area. Most dealers are helpful and can advise you. Consider investing in a good price guide to help determine values. I especially like "Fenton Glass Identification and Price Guide" by Mark Moran and published by Krause.
You also might consider eBay, since that will provide you with an international marketplace. Although it takes time and effort to photo, post and process items on eBay, it should allow you to get the maximum amount for your Fenton pieces. I monitored eBay for several days, and the activity for Fenton appears to be brisk.
Q: I have my first-grade reader from the 1940s, "Fun with Dick and Jane." I wonder if it has value. -- Barbara, Ramona, Calif.
A: Oh, Oh, Oh, see Barbara smile when I tell her that the reader is quite collectible and probably worth about $50. Condition is always important, and if there are torn pages or pencil or crayon marks, it certainly will be less.
May 6th Update
Q: I have an old electric Singer sewing machine. It is in working condition. Whom can I contact to find out if it has any value? -- Carol, Stottville, N.Y.
A: Most electric sewing machines are fairly common and of little interest to serious collectors. Judging from the photographs you sent me, I think your machine is probably from the 1940s or early '50s. Most of the Singer machines from this period sell for less than $100 at auction.
Q: During a move, one of the rockers from a rocking chair was broken off. I would like to have it repaired, but have no clue how to find a reliable restoration business in my area. -- Mary, Rio Rancho, N.M.
A: You can find restoration businesses by checking the Yellow Pages of your phone book or by going online. I suggest you contact several repair people and then pick the one who sounds most competent and reliable. Always check with the Better Business Bureau to see if there have been any complaints recorded. Always ask for references.
Q: My great-grandmother had a china cabinet that probably was made in about 1880. It is tiger oak and really a beautiful piece of furniture. My problem is that the doors have curved glass and one of the panels is broken. Does anyone still make curved glass for Victorian pieces? -- Steve, Gunnison, Colo.
A: B&L Antiqurie, Inc. is a business that specializes in the replacement of curved glass. Contact is 6217 S. Lakeshore Road, P.O. Box 453, Lexington, MI 48450; bentglasscentral.com; email@example.com; and 800-840-1110.
Q: I have an opportunity to buy a pair of candlesticks made by Fenton in ebony with autumn leaf decoration. They are priced at $75 in a local shop. -- Carlie, Hastings, Neb.
A: The candlesticks were made during the 1990s and are not that old or rare. I checked several guides, and the set in ebony seems to retail for $40.
Q: I have several books of old World War II ration stamps. Any value? -- Wanda, Phymouth, Ohio
A: WWII ration memorabilia is still fairly plentiful. Old ration booklets generally sell for less than $10.
Q: I have a picture of John Glenn and two astronauts who were the first to land on the moon. It is a hologram from 1969. What is it worth?
A: I found one of the holograms from 1969 at an online auction. It sold for $95 and included a clipped signature of Glenn’s.
Q: I have a cup and saucer with a “golfer” design of a man with clubs. It was made by Susie Cooper and is probably from the 1940s or ‘50s. Is this a keeper? I paid $10 for it at an estate sale.
A: Susie Cooper was first affiliated with the A.E. Gray Pottery Company in Henley, England, during the early 1920s. Eventually, she was offered space at Crown Works in Burslem, and it was there that she really established her reputation. During the 1960s, she was chief designer for the Wedgwood group. In 1979, she received the Order of the British Empire in the New Year’s Honors List.
After a search, I found several cup and saucers designed by Cooper similar to the set you have, mostly priced in the $90 to $150 range. Keeper, I’d say.