Companion Planting Guide by World Permaculture Association
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Judielaine Bush

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since Jul 28, 2018
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forest garden homestead
Four acres near Pittsboro, NC. My goals are more restoration than production, fighting the honeysuckle, autumn olive, tree of heaven, and stiltgrass and establishing native species in their place. But hey, if i can enjoy the fruits of that labor, i'm for it!
Piedmont, NC
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Recent posts by Judielaine Bush

I left my garden sorrel response hanging there, didn't i! It's done well for me once it was behind a fence and had less rabbit and no deer pressure. The wood sorrel (Oxalis spp) Tivona Hager didn't like and Joe Banks loves mostly grows for me in locations where we have pets at liberty to relieve themselves, so i haven't really tried it. I'm hoping to get some of the native O. violacea established along with the local waterleaf Hydrophyllum virginianum. If those both start thriving, i'll be delighted.

I didn't list fruits, nuts, and berries. I've got pawpaws  (a purchase selection and a number from seed), native red mulberry Morus rubra, Dunstan heritage hybrid American chestnuts (one from a seed picked up at an NC chestnut orchard, one purchased), an American persimmon,  heritage southern apples, a Chicago hardy fig, a number of rabbit eye blueberries (i probably should have gotten Southern highbush because i have them in a more damp location), and thornless blackberries. Most of these were planted the winter of 2018-2019. The figs, blueberries, and blackberries have produced but are still maturing. The rate wasn't enough to outstrip my ability to eat them to preserve any. I'm wondering if there might be fruit on the chestnuts and mulberries this year.

I'm not trying any new plants this year: i'm trying new techniques and locations for the ones i've grown. I think i may not have had good room for solanaceae plants to rotate, and i'm breaking all new ground for them. I'm adding purchased amendments, giving up on the theory that we can create enough compost to really make a difference.

I am trying mushrooms this year -- we have plenty of fodder for our wood chipper and if i can have mushrooms speed wood chips to be good soil amendment , that will be a win.
2 weeks ago
What a nice time to think about that question!

I have to say that i'm not sure i know the best times to harvest vegetables (as opposed to fruits). I've tried looking for information on how much of a cutleaf coneflower or sochan one should harvest at  a time. It's definitely thriving. I found crowns that formed last year and i think  they may flower this year, and i've found seedlings in some places i tried to establish them as well. I've nibbled a leaf or two in my garden all winter, mixing with other greens, but i'm thinking that maybe i can harvest a big bunch of leaves from the two crowns in my garden plot soon.  I have some radicchio/chicories that i am hesitating on cutting the whole heads of as well. Will they get bigger? (Yes, so far.) Sorrel (Rumex acetosa
The walking onions are thriving right now. I'm not sure again, how much i can harvest now without harming the plant later. I suspect i miss the opportunity to put some up -- dehydrating or pickling. I toss a few leaves in with greens i cook, but i'm not sure i'm getting all the value i could.

I found a productive spicebush (Lindera benzoin) last fall and enjoyed making a spiced syrup steeping the berries in a mix of syrup and vodka. Many of the shrubs within the orchard fence seem to be male. I also made mint extracts with alcohol and have enjoyed having a small dose off and on over the winter. Teas have been nice, too, but i don't drink them as often as i could. My anise hyssop has resprouted after the winter, and i look forward to it  thriving this year to a harvestable quantity.

Violets have just come back and i'm beginning my violet salads. The native violets here (Viola sororia) have no scent. Crowns of sweet violets i purchased don't seem to be particularly scented either: i worry the seller was not familiar with English sweet violets. I've tried starting Viola odorata from seed for the umpteenth time -- this time i have some seedlings! I've bought a white variety so i can distinguish them from the abundant native ones with some ease. I look forward to flavoring some sugars.

I have found rose petals a delight -- fresh in salads and in teas. I let petals sit in sugar and made decadent sugar cookies with the flavored sugar.

I'm anticipating runner beans and thicket beans (Phaseolus polystachios) returning. I didn't  get much off the plants in their first year, but i have enough thicket beans to plant some more: i think they'll do well where the runner beans did not (too much shade?).

I've two wild black cherries (Prunus serotina) that i've pollarded. This is the third year since lopping off the top of a 2" diameter trunk cherry, the second for the other. We have good tall cherry trees (75' probably) and sometimes a few fruit make it to the ground but it's all far out of reach. Pollarding the cherry  at about 8' high means the branches are in my reach but not the deer. Yesterday i saw the flower buds on the three year old branches! I'm excited about having them in reach.

I think it might be better to think of the following as perpetual instead of perennial: i've lemon grass and Malabar spinach i've overwintered inside. It's the second over wintering for the lemon grass, the first for the Malabar spinach. I didn't really like the Malabar spinach fresh, but the dehydrated leaves were great in soup this winter. I will be more aggressive with picking the leaves this year.  And i had my first attempts at sweet potato last summer. The standard type for NC didn't produce tubers well in my very heavy red clay, but it did vine well. I liked the greens. Another variety, "Scarlet" produced a massive tuber in the clay but wasn't as aggressive a vining plant. I think it may be a better bet for me, so i'm starting slips from a saved tuber.  All these have cyclical work associated with them, but i think it's worth it.

2 weeks ago

osker brown wrote:Our upcoming crops for the fall are sochan,....

I'm curious about your fall harvest of sochan! I was searching sochan today to get an idea of what to expect in harvesting in the spring, but if there's a fall harvest too, i'd be delighted.
6 months ago
I'm pretty certain about the one plant that has recurred from the older growth at the base. But it certainly seems that it should be a prolific self seeder. I hope to find that out this year, with the plants that have thrived in the sun.

Are your plants thriving in partial shade where you are?
7 months ago
I haven't seen much mention of Talinum paniculatum (Jewels of Opar or Fame Flower). I keep track of the botanical family as well as scientific names because it helps me in understanding  what to expect. Up until 2006 one could have written that Talinum paniculatum was in the same family as (summer) purslane and miners' lettuce (or winter purslane). The taxonomists have apparently decided they aren't that closely related, since they separated the genus Talinum into its own family and  Portulaca into its own. USDA Plants hasn't caught up with these revisions and still lists it in Portulacaceae.

The map of where the plant is native in the US is curious, with populations apparently rare and scattered north of the 31st parallel: One wonders if birds distributed seeds to the northern counties where the plant has been found and the population had just started when the  botanist collected the plant.

Buoyed by the thought it might be suitable, and happy of the thought of a summer green, it was an early plant in my gardening attempts. I was influenced by my understanding that Jewels of Opar was like miners' lettuce (which i had known from years of hiking in the Santa Cruz mountains) and so i had certain expectations. I had it in a shadier spot and wasnt surprised by its size there. I'm in 7b, and have had a plant come back a couple years. This year, i tried a planting in a much sunnier space and found out, wow!, how much larger and productive can this plant be! I'll be trying to protect these (along with my first year scarlet runner beans) .

I've got a rather tired red clay as soil, and my garden plot is where i suspect top soil was borrowed in grading the house site.  That's where my first plant is managing. The thriving plants are with amaranth and sesame on a small hugelkultur berm. The clay might have a bit more loam in it in this spot, but currently it's quite sunny. Hopefully the chestnut tree will change that.

The leaves are tender and succulent, and a bright yellow-green. They have a nice crunch, no bitterness, a slight earthy edge. They bruise easily. I seem to have snails EVERYWHERE this year, but the T paniculatum seems only slightly bothered. The flowers and seed panicles are lovely, suitable for arrangements fresh and perhaps dried, and definitely making seed collecting easy if you are at the edge of the perennial range.

I can't tell yet if deer or rabbits would graze it: i've grown my plants in protected areas so far. The unprotected plants may have been grazed away by a particularly rapacious bunch of rabbits this year or they're lost in goose grass. Next year i will try an unprotected area but in the sun.

A few permies who are closer to the 31st  parallel than i have written of the plants naturalizing, and some have the seed listed for sale.  My original seeds were from, with an established plant it's easy to get seeds for the next year.

7 months ago
I'm in a 7b patch that is surrounded by 90' yellow pines and dotted with  mature tulip poplars. I understand the shade concern. This year, with the warm spell in March, the leaves came out early and i think the early shade made even more prominent the uncommon coolness of May.

Similar in height to Jerusalem Artichoke is sochan (Rudbeckia laciniata), another member of the vast asteraceae family in the same sunflower tribe. This thrives in light shade, so i'd give it a strong recommendation. I haven't eaten any yet: i transplanted a volunteer plant from a spot to my garden and wanted to give it a year to establish.

Using sochan:
* Nutrition
* Included in  "Incredible Wild Edibles 36 plants that can change your life" by Samuel Thayer

On the other end of the height spectrum, violets -- the leaves make great additions to salads -- and sorrel have worked for me. I'm looking into Virgina waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum) both as an aggressive native for understory planting and as an edible.


Egyptian walking onions have worked wonderfully for me: it's taken some time to get used to using them, but their ruggedness is good.

I'm not crazy about chickweed and bittercress, edible winter annuals that will show up in my yard without invitation. I'm not brave enough for poke: i do grow it in my fenced area for the birds, because the deer eat down it everywhere else. I've been reading about how edible milkweed (particularly butterfly weed) is and i wonder i'f i'll brave that. As a perennial, butterfly weed's bright orange flowers might be welcome in your garden. I spent some time reading about the poisonous characteristics of potatoes just to try and put the risk in context.

I'm giving Scarlet Runner beans (Phaseolus coccineus) a try as a perennial. They're another attractive plant. 7b might be too warm, but i'm hoping they might be productive in the long autumn, and, as a perennial, get a jump in the spring.

7 months ago

Dan Boone wrote:...  This year is looking like a HUGE year for our wild passionfruit -- passiflora incarnata.  I mostly just stuff those into my face, ...  

This is the third year for a volunteer plant (under our black walnut). I've put it up on a tee-pee, and it's setting plenty of fruit. I've been wondering what to do with them once they ripen. Do you just spit out the seeds as you go? Or swallow the seeds?

I ran across something that implied the skin has pectin, but the jam recipes all seem to add pectin.

8 months ago

greg mosser wrote:... this batch has ... been a little more local-i-fied with mugwort (also bitter!) and spicebush berries.

I made my first batch with just the black walnuts and then added the sweet and spice with sugar in which i put the few spicebush berries i collected. I don't drink much so it's taking a while to finish, but it was a marvelous way to use black walnuts. I want to try picking some, perhaps next year.

8 months ago
I've bought a role of 4" high Tenax  pet fencing -- it's like the extruded plastic mesh deer fencing but shorter. I've also some step in fence posts. I used this for a variety of purposes, and this past fall i used it to fence off an area of native plants i wanted to get established. Both inside and outside the fence i planted crimson clover. Inside the fence the clover grew lush and tall over the winter. Outside the deer cropped it to the ground. The flimsy barely there fence has kept the deer away since last fall.  I assume that while the deer pressure is high -- cropping any sprouts down to the ground all winter -- there was just enough easy access forage that the hassle of dealing with the fence wasn't worth it.

Now to see if the crimson clover "straw" will suppress the blasted goose grass that took over the area last year.
10 months ago
Violet leaves are a delightful addition to salads and i understand the tougher leaves are decent potherbs. I think they make an excellent ground cover, although i've had rabbits denude twenty five square feet overnight.

I've a lilac too -- not the abundance of lilac you apparently have -- and did not know the flowers were edible! Mixing the lilac with the violets is brilliant. I';ve been trying to source some of the scented violets, Viola odorata. Someone said they were selling bare root plants, but i have begun to worry they did not know the difference from V odorata and V sororia. I'm going to be cranky if i've bought more V sororia.  I think my seed starting skills have gotten better so i think i might have success with the cold stratification to start from seed. I'm thinking about getting a white variety and then i will be able to visually identify the scented flowers - it's such a strong scent i think i could use it with the purple blossoms providing the visual impact.

Anyhow, great blog post!
10 months ago