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Isaac Smeele
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Location: British Columbia, Canada
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Hi there,

My wife and I are putting together are plans for what will be planted together in different beds come spring time. We are having trouble finding info on some of the plants and unsure if we have made the best pairings overall.

Here is our list:

A: horsetail, foxglove, pea, carrot, tomato, parsley, garlic, horseradish, nasturtium, turnip, radish, cucumber, brussel sprout, broccoli, cauliflower, squash

B: kohlrabi, onion, radish, beet, nasturtium, broccoli, cucumber, brussel sprout, cauliflower, squash, sunflower, cabbage, celery, lettuce, sweet corn, pumpkin, penny royal, melon

C: potatoes, sweet corn, beet, dwarf bean, onion, nasturtium, mint, dill, rosemary, coriander, sage, chamomile, oregano, thyme, cabbage, celery, lavender, stinging nettle, marjoram, yarrow

D: fennel, carrot, dill, lettuce, spinach, parsley, chive, marigold, onion, sage, chamomile, rose, strawberry, tansy, shallot, yarrow

E: basil, asparagus, tomato, parsley, rose, chive, parsnip, radish, potato, garlic, bush bean, pole bean, leak, lettuce, onion, nasturtium, raspberry, marjoram, rue

F: potato, bush bean, pole bean, pea, soya bean, turnip, peppers, sweet corn, horseradish, marigold, eggplant, savory, nasturtium, celery, cauliflower, broad bean, mint

G: apple, raspberry, blueberry, marigold, carrot, tansy, nasturtium, yarrow, lemon balm, rose, garlic, chive, saskatoon, comfrey, dandelion

Greenhouse: tomato, peppers, aloe vera, oregon grape

By Itself: wormwood

Still Unsure: endive, rutabaga, artichoke, kale, swiss chard, calendula, juniper, echinacea, golden seal, arnica, wooly lamb's ear, plantain, pennywort, yellow dock, witch hazel, citronella, horsemint, feverfew, ginger, valerian, cloves...

Thanks for your time.
 
Ken W Wilson
Posts: 463
Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
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My favorite companions plants are early sweetcorn and watermelon. Buy the time the corn's picked the melons are ready to really take off. I cut the stalks down to mulch the melons. The melons need a little room so they aren't shaded out. Like maybe two rows of corn then a row of melons, then two more corn. Cantaloupe work too.
 
Isaac Smeele
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That is a great combo. In our zone corn doesnt do well most years and watermelon and cantelope are only possible in a greenhouse but maybe through texturing our land we can create a warm enough microclimate for them to work outside.
 
Ken W Wilson
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What zone are you in? Do you have the same zone system we do?
 
Isaac Smeele
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Canadian plant hardiness zone 4b
 
Isaac Smeele
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"Unlike the USDA map which is based only on minimum winter temperatures, the Agriculture Canada map considers a wider range of climatic variables, including maximum temperatures and the length of the frost-free period." Ya they are different.
 
Ken W Wilson
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I can see why watermelon wouldn't work. Does it just not get hot enough for sweet corn? It seems like your growing season would be long enough?

Your zone system sounds a lot better.
 
Isaac Smeele
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Well i think its weather based because I know some years it grows decently but other years it just doesn't. I think its probably dooable every year if you find the perfect warm spot for it.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I don't remember reading how big the beds are, or how many plants you plan on putting into them, but I'll comment as best I can anyway.

Isaac Smeele wrote:A: horsetail, foxglove, pea, carrot, tomato, parsley, garlic, horseradish, nasturtium, turnip, radish, cucumber, brussel sprout, broccoli, cauliflower, squash


A mix of perennials and annuals doesn't seem like a good fit to me. For this year, it may be OK, but eventually the horseradish and horsetail may be taking over the bed. In my garden there is not enough growing season to harvest a crop of peas, turnips, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, tomatoes, or garlic before the bed would be overwhelmed by the squash vines. I could plant garlic after the squash is killed by the fall frosts.

Isaac Smeele wrote:B: kohlrabi, onion, radish, beet, nasturtium, broccoli, cucumber, brussel sprout, cauliflower, squash, sunflower, cabbage, celery, lettuce, sweet corn, pumpkin, penny royal, melon


This is a mix of cool weather crops and hot weather crops. Again in my climate, there is not enough time to harvest the cool weather crops before the hot weather crops need the space. Radishes and onion sets or bulbils have plenty of time to be harvested (perhaps as scallions). Not so much with the other things.

Isaac Smeele wrote:C: potatoes, sweet corn, beet, dwarf bean, onion, nasturtium, mint, dill, rosemary, coriander, sage, chamomile, oregano, thyme, cabbage, celery, lavender, stinging nettle, marjoram, yarrow


This bed seems like a lot of herbs, spices, and medicinals. I really like it. But I wouldn't add potatoes, sweet corn, cabbage, or beans to this bed. I'd devote the whole bed to herbs. Without the big annual vegetables, it is a mix of self-seeding annuals, biennials, and perennials. A wonderful combination.

Isaac Smeele wrote:D: fennel, carrot, dill, lettuce, spinach, parsley, chive, marigold, onion, sage, chamomile, rose, strawberry, tansy, shallot, yarrow


Seems like a great bed to me. I'm not a fan of roses, but everything else seems like they'd play nice together. I'd rather plant the perennial strawberries, chives, and yarrow under the apple tree.

Isaac Smeele wrote:E: basil, asparagus, tomato, parsley, rose, chive, parsnip, radish, potato, garlic, bush bean, pole bean, leak, lettuce, onion, nasturtium, raspberry, marjoram, rue


This is a mix of small delicate plants and huge robust plants. I'd expect the small delicate plants to be out-competed and overly shaded by the big plants. You seem to really like nasturtium.

Isaac Smeele wrote:F: potato, bush bean, pole bean, pea, soya bean, turnip, peppers, sweet corn, horseradish, marigold, eggplant, savory, nasturtium, celery, cauliflower, broad bean, mint


A perennial cold-weather horseradish in amongst all those annuals. Hmm... The peas, cauliflower, and (fava) broadbeans will be very mature by the time the beans, peppers, and eggplant can be planted. That's some fierce competition going on. There's those nasturtiums again...

Isaac Smeele wrote:G: apple, raspberry, blueberry, marigold, carrot, tansy, nasturtium, yarrow, lemon balm, rose, garlic, chive, saskatoon, comfrey, dandelion


Seems fine to me. I don't like shrubbery growing under fruit trees, because it makes picking difficult. Perhaps the horsetail, strawberries, and horseradish would fit well into this bed with other perennials. Garlic doesn't seem to fit here. Dandelion grows so well around my place as a weed that I'm more likely to harvest it from the lawn than from a garden.

Isaac Smeele wrote:Greenhouse: tomato, peppers, aloe vera, oregon grape


I would expect Oregon grape to be winter hardy for you.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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We are having trouble finding info on some of the plants and unsure if we have made the best pairings overall.


My first impression of your lists, considering this quote and the lists that you included:

Without being judgmental, since I do not know your experience level, and it's not for me to judge anyway, I would say that you may be biting off more than you can chew with some of your choices.

Considering the choices, my educated guess is that your experience with some of this is limited.

I'm answering so that you have the best opportunity to succeed.

There are some great garden books on pairing veggie plants with good companions. Carrots Love Tomatoes is the classic.

Some things to consider:

You have an interesting mix of perennials and annuals and medicinals and food in these mixes that might function, but might not and there are plenty of reasons that some of this might not work, or work well enough to be worthwhile.

The ability to meet the challenge of dealing with the complexity of these mixes, is in direct proportion to your experience as a gardener and or herbalist. Some of these plants are pretty serious medicinals, others spread in ways that are not really conducive to most people's long term veggie garden plans.

I might be wrong in my view of your experience level, and I apologize if that's the case, but I'm going to assume that this is the case at this point and give the best advice I can based on my own experience.

While I have some herbalist knowledge (I've made medicines for myself and have done a fair bit of wild medicinal and food harvesting and have taken and given wild plant walks and herbal workshops) and some gardening knowledge (I have a 1/4 acre of no till raised beds, have supported a multifamily CSA, have grown large market crops of plants such as garlic, and have worked on a lot of diverse farms) , I do not consider myself masterful enough to make the systems you listed work (without a ton of effort to manage it) and so I would not consider some of these combinations for a variety of reasons.

Foxglove, for instance, is a pretty powerful medicinal (that can mess with their heart), and I would never consider putting in a place where food plants are harvested, unless it was only I-or someone who I trusted to know what it looked like-who was doing the harvesting. In fact, I would vigorously exclude it from a garden where unskilled people are gathering food plants, for instance.

Plants like Horseradish, Horsetail, roses, comfrey, stinging nettle, raspberry, and mint can be very invasive in a vigorous spreading of roots and shoots kind of way, while foxglove can spread like crazy by seed or (I believe) tilled roots (I worked as a wwoofer in a garden where this was a serious problem plant). Some of these invasive plants could all be grown to battle it out together but I would not recommend it unless you grow them or observe them more separately first to get an idea of their nature. This is an important aspect gardening that most experienced gardeners, and permaculturalists will attest to: observe, observe, observe.

I would consider it a better choice to put the medicinals, like foxglove/penny royal/rue/tansy/nettles/lavender/tansy etc in a bed or wilder area that is predominantly medicinal, or in dense exclusive groves of their own in the garden, where they can more easy and more exclusively be managed, harvested.

Comfrey is often best put in it's own bed that is contained (some use an old bathtub). Other plants could be planted with it, but it should not be allowed to spread, as it is hard to get rid of and will take over. It is a serious challenge that takes vigilance and perseverance to eradicate once established.

A wild, feral, or semi feral area of your yard might be a better place to support your desire to include certain plants.

While I harvest stinging nettle bare handed, many (I would say most) do not appreciate it touching their skin, and therefor it is not the best choice to include in planting mixes unless you, or other harvesters are not negatively affected by it's sting.

A great resource for creating a medicine garden including advice on why to not plant certain things in certain ways is Growing And Using the Healing Herbs by Gaea and Shandor Weiss This is an introductory guide to herbalism, but it is really well done.

A great resource for understanding the optimum planting spacing for a given veggie species is: Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times, by Steve Solomon While I don't practice Solomon's garden style/philosophy at all, the info on the plant's needs is invaluable.

The second resource I recommend so that when you plant your seeds, or broadcast them, or put out transplants you have some idea of what is ideal for spacing; then you can thin it a bit as it progresses to match what the plant will want. As an example of this, a potato is a larger plant that can take up nearly 2 square feet of garden space and goes vertically about two feet as well. If this is planted with dwarf beans for instance, it is unlikely that your beans will be prolific. These might work if they are further apart, but I don't know what the companion situation is between them. A very simple example of what might work: Potato plants could have a preliminary crop of radishes quite close to them since the radishes are harvested early before the potato plant expands into this space.

Any climate that is challenged to grow corn, will likely not be able to overwinter rosemary. It might be better to put that one in a large terracotta pot and put it outside the kitchen to be moved indoors for the winter, unless you want to treat it as an annual. Aloe wont overwinter, even in your greenhouse, although it might like to live there the rest of the year if the conditions are right. I think it is best to treat it like your rosemary (pot it and move it from the greenhouse to indoors in the winter).

You can indeed grow corn and melons (the right varieties) in micro climates. Think the base of a large concave hugulkultur.

Saskatoon is a pretty tall plant that can create a large shaded area, which might be detrimental to the growth of other plants.

Juniper is the host to a rust that if present will deform your Saskatoon berries and leave them less palatable. Plant either Saskatoon or Juniper. I choose Saskatoon, and go harvest juniper when I want it from the wild.

Oregon Grape is a wild plant and that can be grown outdoors in your zone. It is locally available where I live, and so I would harvest it in the wild.

I do not have experience with purposefully growing these plants: golden seal, arnica, wooly lamb's ear, plantain, pennywort, yellow dock, witch hazel, citronella, horsemint, feverfew, ginger, valerian, cloves... although yellow dock and plantain are volunteers in my garden, and while I leave some, other folks make a choice to exclude these plants. They both seed like crazy and have a bit of a vigorous nature of taking up space. Ginger and Cloves are WAY out of your zone. Golden Seal is slightly out of your zone. Many of these are medicinals, some of them are perennial. I do not know how to make adequate suggestions in regards to many of these. From my limited knowledge, many of them are likely projects unto themselves.

As drawn up, this is a really ambitious project, and although you can indeed make choices to grow Bananas in Iceland [ ], or potatoes under your blueberries, without some experience (with the right spacing and the many considerations listed above [and probably many more]), it might be better to keep your annuals and non invasives together in simpler polycultures, and isolate your medicinals and invasives in their own space.

Again, without wanting to be judgemental, but trying to give good advice on this: the learning curve on this project might be beyond your skill set at this time.

My main suggestion now: Start a lot simpler, and make it more complex as you gain experience.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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While I was typing my last post over a long period of time while distracted, Joseph posted some really great responses similar to mine and many that are more specific and definitely concise in comparison. I completely agree with everything he said.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I agree with Roberto's assessment and recommendations. (Wishing that I had written something like that.) Perhaps start by growing a squash plant. See how tremendously huge they get, and how they take over a whole bed, and the beds on either side, and how they shade out everything else in the vicinity. Perhaps devote one bed only to corn. Observe how giant they are compared to other vegetables. Corn requires wind pollination. They pretty much need to be planted in a dedicated bed in order to be pollinated and make kernels. I acknowledge that there are purely decorative corns. They wouldn't require pollination.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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As Joseph pointed out with a few examples in his initial post: plants sprout, grow, and mature at different rates and the harvest might not happen due to being out competed for space, by faster, larger, or even more hungry or thirsty plants. As an example of this, there is the classic 'Three Sisters' garden of corn beans and squash. If a person planted all of these as seeds at the same time, the corn would likely be overrun by the others before it could gain the height it needs to thrive. If the beans were not super vigorous, the squash would bury them too. The native people who grew three sisters gardens had an intimate knowledge of their particular heirloom varieties, and through experimentation and evaluation knew when to plant which plants to best match the polyculture. Questions like where in the configuration each individual plant would be able to thrive to potential and in what volume ratios would the best harvests be gained would be answered by experience and small variations on the experiment. Trial and error is one way but might amount to a whole lot of squash and not much else. The best way might be to give each plant a large area and see how they grow, and then experiment with combining them. Also, a squash plant that is happy and healthy and properly cared for will provide far more fruit than one that is being stepped on, pruned back to reduce competition, or pushed around.

The hugulkultur that I helped in building at the Darfield Earthship, solved this problem by planting the squash seeds at the bottom, and then once the vines were growing and establishing themselves at ground level, they could be carefully threaded up the hugulkulture among the plants that had a chance to mature. I did not see how this came to be, as I was only there as a participant in the Permablitz.

A good introduction to polyculture can be found in toby hemenway's book: gaia's garden.

A certain amount of experimentation is very healthy, and can be extremely worthwhile, but it should not compromise your ability to grow the food you need.
 
Isaac Smeele
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Yes we are very new at this and all advice is welcome. We have ordered the books you mentioned and will read them as soon as possible. We hope to make the hugelkultur beds 6 feet high, 6 feet wide and up to 10 feet long; spaced to create micro climates between them. Here is an updated list with South and North sides of the hugelkultur beds. I tried to take all the feedback into consideration while continuing to pair things according to the companion planting guides I found online.


A: S - pea, pole bean, parsley, celery, cucumber, marjoram,
N - carrot, bush tomato, bee balm, lettuce brussel sprout, cauliflower,

B: S - kohlrabi, nasturtium, broccoli, cabbage, sage
N - rutabaga, beet, celery, swiss chard

C: S - nasturtium, sage, chamomile, oregano, thyme,
N - beet, kale, kohlrabi, garlic

D: S - tomato, bee balm, basil, marigold, chamomile, shallot,
N - spinach, parsley, carrot, squash, leek

E: S - asparagus, coriander, dill, endive, marjoram, marigold,
N - parsnip, savory, lettuce, leek, lemon balm

F: S - pumpkin, marjoram, melon, fava beans, oregano, marigold
N - pea, cauliflower, radish, celery, morning glory

G: S - garlic, onion, squash, marjoram, nasturtium, pole beans
N - potato, radish, turnip, marigold, horseradish

H: S - coriander, sunflower, nasturtium, tomato, carrot, basil,
N - parsnip, chive, lettuce, spinach, strawberry

I: S - wooly lamb's ear, yarrow, feverfew, lavender, echinacea, golden seal, pennywort, pansy
N - valerian, mint, yellow dock, arnica, penny royal, violet, weld

Between the Beds: apple, strawberry, marigold, carrot, horsetail, clover, sunflower

Year Round Greenhouse: tomato, peppers, aloe vera, eggplant, basil, rosemary, indigo, hibiscus

Trellis: oregon grape, geranium, hyssop, clover, zinnia, black eyed susan

Solo: wormwood, comfrey, foxglove, corn, witch hazel, quinoa, fennel, tansy, goldenrod, cosmos

Wild Area: raspberry, roses, plantain, garlic, marigold, rue, lavender, lilac, saskatoon, blueberry, hemp
 
Roberto pokachinni
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This is a much better list of combinations, Isaac!

If you planning on planting the tops of your six foot beds, I would suggest plants that you think might self seed, thus dropping them on the rest of the bed. Oregano comes to mind. Also Taller plants, that like heat, near or at the top (with sufficient watering in the first years establishing the huguls).

Horsetail might be better in the wild garden than amidst the beds.

Consider planting the apple so that it is at the base of a hugul on the North side. The reason for this is that the hugul can then shade the tree trunk base in the late winter and early spring which stops it from coming out of dormancy too early, which can cause a lot of problems. Also, the tree creates additional shade on the North side, furthering the cool side micro-climate.

Possibly consider for the sake of experiment (and boosting the diversity maybe) planting a south side plant (from your list of South side plants) of each plant in each grouping on the north side of each bed, and likewise visa versa in the alternate to see what difference it makes.

As an example of this, in your 'A' group, While concentrating your planting of the North side of the bed with your North Side list of plants, consider also planting one plant from the South Side list: one of pea, pole bean, parsley, celery, cucumber, and marjoram plant each on the North side with your main plantings of the North Side plants. I would actually think that the parsley would do better on the North side in this case. In the same 'A' group, of the North side list including carrot, bush tomato, bee balm, lettuce, brussel sprout, and cauliflower, plant one of each of those on the South side among the predominant planting of South side plants that you listed. In this case, I would expect that the tomato, and the carrot (and possibly the bee balm) would do better on the South than on the North, although the carrots might germinate better on the North (where they would not dry out as easy in the early, fragile stage). If that makes sense, and it's not too much hassle, it would go a long way to help you decide for next year what is best where.

The only thing that I should say, is that I would stress to go a little overboard on giving the plants too much space as opposed to too little. If you have a greenhouse and can keep some transplants coming on a steady basis, for example: some chard, lettuce, spinach, or even kale for larger spaces, etc, you can always keep setting them into any voids that seem to be persistent despite the expansion of other plants as they grow, then you can complete the canopy, without overshadowing in a more controlled manner.

That's all I can think of at the moment.

Please keep us posted on how these plants do with each other. Making good guilds is not easy and many people would like to do more of this sort of thing. If you can take notes and photos of the combos and their spacing at the time of planting and later on as they begin to develop, and through the maturation process, I believe it would be a great a VERY positive learning tool for many people.
 
Isaac Smeele
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Thanks so much! And we will be sure to take lots of notes and photos.
 
Greg Eckrich
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Good morning!

That's quite a list. Try this connection: http://ghorganics.com/
These folks have listed about 100 plants with their good and bad companion plants.

Best regards,

Greg. Eckrich
 
Jason Case
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Keep posting advice. I'm in the same boat. I have tons upon tons of seed and grand ideas but may have bitten off more than I realized. Learning loads after just browsing for a few hours.
 
John Polk
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I think that it is important to group plants with the same watering requirements.

Most culinary/medicinal herbs from the Mediterranean area do not need/want much summer water.
Most annual vegetables do need frequent watering.
Combining them together in a bed may not be the best choice.

Any plant whose flavor (most Mediterranean culinary) or medicinal value is based on its essential oils should be companioned with yarrow. Yarrow, as a companion, will increase the essential oils that these plants produce.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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Any plant whose flavor (most Mediterranean culinary) or medicinal value is based on its essential oils should be companioned with yarrow. Yarrow, as a companion, will increase the essential oils that these plants produce.


When yarrow comes up as a volunteer in my garden, I either leave it be, or consider transplanting it. My annual veggie beds will eventually be all perennial herbs and berries. Yarrow is a foundation pioneer plant in any temperate herbal garden, in my opinion, and should be included for the great benefit it provides the garden too; it attracts beneficial insects, repels harmful insects, and does interesting synergistic things to nearby companions as John mentioned. It is also a plant that is used in some biodynamic preps.
 
Isaac Smeele
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Thank you guys!

We are hoping the hugelkultur beds absorb enough liquid that they don't need to be watered often. We will place the plants that thrive with lots of hydration lower down because from the research I've done about companion plants, annuals and perennials help each other out quite often. I'll be sure to grow yarrow close to lavender, oregano and other essential oil producers.
 
Dave Dahlsrud
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"Trellis: oregon grape, geranium, hyssop, clover, zinnia, black eyed susan "

I'm not sure about the point of the trellis here, nothing on this list really needs any trellising as far as I can tell unless it's just purely decorative. Sounds like you have a pretty good plan though. Do you have a way to post a diagram or pictures or something? Sometimes that visual really helps folks get a clear picture and they could off a little more help/advise/opinions.
 
Isaac Smeele
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So Adalia put the pencil to work and made a little diagram:


Here's the legend

Garden

Hugelkultur Beds:
A: S - wooly lamb's ear, yarrow, feverfew, lavender, echinacea, golden seal, pennywort, pansy
N - valerian, mint, yellow dock, arnica, penny royal, violet, weld

B: S - kohlrabi, nasturtium, broccoli, cabbage, sage
N - rutabaga, beet, celery, swiss chard, kohlrabi

C: S - asparagus, coriander, dill, endive, marjoram, marigold,
N - parsnip, savory, lettuce, leek, lemon balm

D: S - coriander, sunflower, nasturtium, tomato, carrot, basil,
N - parsnip, chive, lettuce, spinach, strawberry

E: S - garlic, onion, squash, marjoram, nasturtium, pole beans
N - potato, radish, turnip, marigold, horseradish

F: S - pumpkin, marjoram, melon, fava beans, oregano, marigold
N - pea, cauliflower, radish, celery, morning glory

G: S - pea, pole bean, parsley, celery, cucumber, marjoram,
N - carrot, bush tomato, bee balm, lettuce brussel sprout, cauliflower,

H: S - tomato, bee balm, basil, marigold, chamomile, shallot,
N - spinach, parsley, carrot, squash, leek

Herb Spiral:
S - nasturtium, sage, chamomile, oregano, thyme, sage, basil, yarrow
E- coriander, nasturtium, clover
W- spinach, strawberry, mint
N- kale, lettuce, marigold, garlic

Around Apple Trees:
strawberry, marigold, carrot, clover

Fill Spaces:
clover, sunflower, geranium, hyssop, zinnia, black eyed susan

Year Round Greenhouse:
tomato, peppers, aloe vera, eggplant, basil, rosemary, indigo, hibiscus

Solo:
A. wormwood
B. comfrey
C. foxglove
D. cosmos
E. tansy
F. goldenrod
G. fennel

Feild:
corn, quinoa

Cultivated Wild:
raspberry, roses, plantain, garlic, marigold, rue, lavender, lilac, saskatoon, blueberry, hemp, horsetail, oregon grape, witch hazel

Looking forward to hearing your inputs!
 
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree
Posts: 9927
Location: Portugal
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bee bike books duck forest garden greening the desert solar trees wofati
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Isaac - the image isn't showing up for me. I think the permissions might need changing, or maybe you could upload the image somewhere else, or direct to permies.
 
Isaac Smeele
Posts: 37
Location: British Columbia, Canada
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Burra Maluca wrote:Isaac - the image isn't showing up for me. I think the permissions might need changing, or maybe you could upload the image somewhere else, or direct to permies.


Sorry about that here it is:

 
Those are the largest trousers in the world! Especially when next to this ad:
Ernie and Erica Wisner's Rocket Mass Heater Everything Combo
https://permies.com/t/40993/digital-market/digital-market/Ernie-Erica-Wisner-Rocket-Mass
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