Today I planted onions and carrots. I planted them side by side, because they like one another's company a lot. They help each other along. The smell of the onion keeps the carrots biggest pest, the Carrot Fly, away. The carrot returns the favor and excretes an odor that the Onion Fly detests. With alternative rows of onions and carrots, these pests will keep their distance. 

This is just one example of the wonder of companion planting. Many plants either dislike or like an other plant. Gardeners and farmers use this knowledge to get nicer crops and use less pesticides. Beans like corn and spinach, but not tomatoes and cabbages. Beets and radish like lettuce while parsley and celery prefer a proper distance. Sometimes it is the capacity of keeping away a pest, other times it is a wanted nutrient that is provided by the neighbor, other times it is for protection, shade or support.

When I had finished planting my onions and carrots I was about to start planting a row of sunflowers on a strip of land that remained free on my potato field. But then I saw Juri waiving with long arms at me. He was driving his horses over the dirt road coming from the river. He had loaded a cartful of sand for me and wanted me to hurry back home to open the gate so he could deliver this heavy load. I gathered my seeds and hurried home, thinking to plant the sunflowers tomorrow. Now, as I myself am fascinated by companion planting and reading more about it, I learn that sunflowers and potatoes are not friends and should not be put together. Potatoes shrivel by the presence of sunflower, while the sunflower even refuses to bloom with a potato at its feet…