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Companion planting with medicinal herbs in a diverse homestead?  RSS feed

 
Posts: 181
Location: Central Ohio, Zone 6A - High water table, heavy clay.
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I'll be doing my best to put a foot in the water with perennial medicinal herbs this year, and I'm hoping to glean some earned advice concerning companion planting before I start.

I've tried and benefited from some of the better known combos (Borage amongst tomatoes), but most of the literature I can find on companion planting isn't comprehensive enough to include medicinal herbs.

I try to grow the widest possible range of annual veggies, as well as fruit/berry/nut bushes and trees, in zone 5/6.
 
steward
Posts: 3402
Location: woodland, washington
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I think you're on the right track. look for diversity in multiple traits. root structure, for example. and nutrient requirements. light requirements. if theres a plant particularly susceptible to insect herbivory, include in the guild plants that attract predatory insects. give some thought to seasons of growth, e.g. don't plant all your Spring ephemerals together. if there's a plant particularly susceptible to mammal herbivory, plant something repellent to the offending mammal.

basically the same stuff you're probably familiar with for food plant guilds. the uses are different, but the ideas behind the design are very similar.
 
Matt Smith
Posts: 181
Location: Central Ohio, Zone 6A - High water table, heavy clay.
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Thanks tel... good info.

I wish I was a bit more advanced when it comes to constructing guilds and the like, but I'm still pretty green at it.

Found the following info here:
http://www.herbfest.net/growing-herbs/gardening-with-herbs/272-companion-herb-plants-for-your-herb-garden

This info isn't as much about medicinal herbs, but I do like that it suggests positive interactions between culinary herbs and fruit trees/bushes. If garlic really does help repel Japanese Beetles, this place is gonna look like a garlic farm for the next few years.

Basil: Basil can benefit the growth petunias and the flavors of tomatoes, asparagus, peppers and oregano; it should not be planted near common rue or sage. To increase the essential oils in your basil, plant chamomile or anise.

Borage: Borage acts as a deterrent to tomato hornworms and cabbage worms and is known to attract bees and wasps. It also improves soil composition and helps any plants near it be more resistant to both pests and disease. Plant borage with strawberries, tomatoes or squash to enhance both the flavor and amount of your fruit or vegetable harvest.

Chamomile: In addition to increasing the essential oils of any nearby herbs, chamomile can help basil, wheat, onions, cabbage and cucumber plants. This herb also attracts hoverflies and wasps, which assist in pollination and prey on aphids and other pest insects.

Chive: A long-term investment, chives are often planted in conjunction with tomatoes, carrots, apple trees and roses. At first growth they will repel aphids from tomatoes, mums and sunflowers, and after about three years they have known to prevent apple scab and rose black spot.

Cilantro/Coriander: This familiar kitchen spice will deter aphids, potato beetles, and spider mites. It’s a good companion to anise, caraway, spinach and dill. If you have continued problems with spider mites, a tea made from coriander can repel them.

Dill: Companion to lettuce, cabbage, onions, sweet corn and cucumbers, dill should not be planted near carrots, caraway, lavender or tomatoes (it attracts tomato horn worms). This herb will keep aphids, spider mites and squash bugs from taking over your garden and will attract hoverflies, wasps, and honeybees. To avoid cross-pollination, don’t plant dill near fennel.

Garlic: In addition to its health benefits, garlic deters rabbits as well as tree borers, aphids, cabbage looper, codling moths, Japanese beetles, snails, carrot root flies, ants and cabbage maggots. It is especially beneficial when planted near apple, pear and peach trees, roses, cucumbers, peas, lettuce or celery.

Mints: Be careful when planting mints as they can be very invasive; keep it in a container if possible to prevent its spread. Cuttings of mint can be beneficially used in mulching around turnips, cabbage, broccoli and mustard, and can also be effective in discouraging mice. As a live plant, spearmint and peppermint are especially useful in attracting bees and repelling black flea beetles, ants, mosquitoes, white cabbage butterflies, aphids and cabbage maggots. Do not plant mint near parsley.

Rosemary: Rosemary benefits the growth of sage, cabbage, beans and carrots by deterring cabbage moths, bean beetles and, if cutting are placed around carrot crowns, carrot flies. Again, don’t plant rosemary near basil or the rosemary will die.

Sage: Another herb to pair with beans, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and carrots as it repels cabbage moths, black flea beetles, carrot flies and some bean parasites. Again, sage grows well with rosemary, but do not plant it close to rue, cucumbers or onions.

Tarragon: A general nuisance to pests, tarragon is well-planted throughout any garden and can help enhance the flavor and growth of nearby vegetables, especially eggplant.
 
Matt Smith
Posts: 181
Location: Central Ohio, Zone 6A - High water table, heavy clay.
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Also just found some great starting points here:
http://users.netconnect.com.au/~ewood/companion_planting.html

Would still very much appreciate more detailed info as to why and how some of these pairings work, but this is very helpful.
 
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a medicinal herb, that greatly improves any plant that is raised for the essential oils.
The yarrow triggers an increase in oils in nearby plants, hence more flavor/aroma.
If you want mint that will 'knock your socks off', plant it amongst yarrow.
Most culinary herbs, likewise will benefit from the yarrow.
It is hardy to about zones 2-3.

 
Matt Smith
Posts: 181
Location: Central Ohio, Zone 6A - High water table, heavy clay.
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John Polk wrote:Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a medicinal herb, that greatly improves any plant that is raised for the essential oils.
The yarrow triggers an increase in oils in nearby plants, hence more flavor/aroma.
If you want mint that will 'knock your socks off', plant it amongst yarrow.
Most culinary herbs, likewise will benefit from the yarrow.
It is hardy to about zones 2-3.



Good to know! I'm definitely planting some of that this year, so I'll make sure to locate it accordingly.
 
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dandelions help tomatoes.

Calendula roots help deter bad nematodes (there are GOOD nematodes, unless in your body) that love tomato roots.

Rose geraniums, even in pots, near rose plants, help keep june bugs/Japanese beetles away.

Elder trees supposedly "elder " other herbs, and teach them.

Too much nitrogen decreases essential oils in herbs...so don't plant near high nitrogen-feeding plants.

lavender and rosemary enjoy each others company.

Yellow dock's deep roots bring iron closer to the surface, and make iron more available in the soil around it.

Mints are good interspersed with squash--perhaps to deter the dreaded squash bugs with their yellow larvae.

These are off the top of my head without consulting my many herb books, most of which don't mention companion planting anyway...

Mints are good inter
 
Posts: 15
Location: Rice WA Zone 6
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Are there any plants I can use to discourage our many gophers?
 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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I hate to say it, but the only plant I know of that might deter a gopher is a nuclear power plant. Just kidding.
Gophers can quickly decimate a nice garden!

EDITED to add: Evelyn, I am looking at a property near you. Not encouraging to know there are "many gophers" in the area.

 
Evelyn Smith
Posts: 15
Location: Rice WA Zone 6
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How about garlic or chili stuffed in their tunnels? I'm going to think of someway to deter those gophers! That is if the cats don't eat them all first, one month they killed at least 30 of them!
But don't let the gophers get in your way John. It's great here in Rice, and the people are really nice. It's beautiful right now, blue skies with puffy white clouds and everything green, green everywhere! And there are already permies here so you would have like minded neighbors! Sam and I got 22.5 acres for $51k. About one third is hilly with conifers, the rest is old pasture. There are lots of places for sale around here too. good hunting!
 
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Hello?? Did you say gophers

First, how bad are your gophers? If they've set up shop, they'll learn to love most domesticated herbs when everything else is gone. If they are inside your garden, drive them out of the garden. Depending on who needs food more, and according to your ethical discipline, plant gopher spurge to stop the traffic from coming in. I have used this in the past when I thought it just repelled them. However, I read that they eat the roots which have kind of latex in them. The rodents eat this and their insides stick together.  I live in a no kill zone. I still like to believe in the intelligence of beings and think that they have figured out how to avoid these plants and not eat them. To find innovative ways to repel gophers check their eating habits vs. plants. they avoid.  They are primarily root and cambien layer eaters and many roots are allelopathic. This is what you need to look for in fighting gophers and my new bane: ffield mice -- VOLES! Not as heartbreaking as gophers yet, but they breed more often)

Sonar works for me. In the old days I'd use rebar stuck in the ground with a tin can on a wire. wind would rattle the can and re-bar resonates it into soil. They're not going to do an emergency exit no matter what you do. Look at how the animal moves. If you've ever trained a horse or even ridden a bit, you know it takes them longer to move a leg than it takes you to give the message and you mentlly drum your fingers. Now think of rodents (back and forth, back and forth a thousand times having to build new tunnels every time you mess them up.) At first level you're just getting them to NOT BREED in your area. Then invite them to find someplace quieter. One of the few positives for turning the soil is checking out who's living there. They will always be there, just don't invite them to dinner.

Does anyone have more info on allelopathy content in various plants? the only study I read was Montana State U. finding that lupine is not sensitive to knap weed roots. This is a major herbal breakthrough for plants.  let me hear from you!
 
Posts: 73
Location: Ontario zone 4b
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Companionship in guilds adds the most amount of VOC to ward off pests and prevent disease...also serving multiple other functions at the same time.. i find using herbaceous layers in the garden is always a plus as far as finding the right combo there really is no perfect combo everything you are growing can eventually connect and communicate under the ground in the rhizosphere through hyphae anyways if i guess the soil is rich in mycelium. But for disclosure there are several helpers in the garden borage helps( tomatoes Nd brassicas  as does sage and thyme and garlic... borage is also great for squashes pumpkins and melons ....if i were you i would stick with bordering with a few deep taprooted herbaceous plants aka echinacea/ borage/ yarrow/ hyssop then move into the other layers always remember anything that is spicy or savoury aka garlic sage should not be companions with fruit and anything sweet or anise is good for fruit ..the complexity of levels you can mash together is endless and as long as it all serves a purpose it will work well in warding of gurdeling animals grazers bad bugs and bring in pollinators and predators that are great for the garden.
 
Posts: 73
Location: Youngstown, Ohio
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Yarrow seems to help everything it grows  near!  The only additional one I have is Rue.  It is apparently a plant of banishment.  It works in the physical realm too.  Planted near the roses and raspberries I had FAR less Japanese beetles last year. 
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