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Companion planting with medicinal herbs in a diverse homestead?

Matt Smith


Joined: Feb 04, 2012
Posts: 181
Location: Central Ohio, Zone 6A - High water table, heavy clay.
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.
tel jetson
steward

Joined: May 17, 2007
Posts: 2972
Location: woodland, washington
    
  49
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.


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Matt Smith


Joined: Feb 04, 2012
Posts: 181
Location: Central Ohio, Zone 6A - High water table, heavy clay.
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


Joined: Feb 04, 2012
Posts: 181
Location: Central Ohio, Zone 6A - High water table, heavy clay.
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.
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 5827
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
  86
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


Joined: Feb 04, 2012
Posts: 181
Location: Central Ohio, Zone 6A - High water table, heavy clay.
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.
Elizabeth L'Abate


Joined: May 06, 2012
Posts: 9
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


"May all things move and be moved in me and know and be known in me. May all creation dance for joy within me." Chinook prayer
Evelyn Smith


Joined: May 06, 2012
Posts: 14
Location: Rice WA Zone 6
Are there any plants I can use to discourage our many gophers?
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 5827
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
  86
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


Joined: May 06, 2012
Posts: 14
Location: Rice WA Zone 6
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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