Borage in Bloom

Borage is a great companion plant – especially with tomatoes to ward off the tomato hornworm!


Herb Show and Herb of the Year!

We visited the Midwestern Herb and Garden Show this past weekend and had the privilege of hearing Mel Bartholomew speak about his “All New Square Foot Gardening” method and book.  He is very knowledgeable and his mission is to end world hunger by teaching his square foot (meter) gardening techniques around the world.  I was surprised to learn that he also offers a course whereby you can become a certified teacher at one of the 3 day SFG Symposiums that are offered.  The next one being offered is in North Carolina and then one in Hawaii – you can read more about these on his website.  There is also an online course offered from the SFG University.   A young man named Josh was there to assist in the presentation and he is the youngest person to complete the course (he graduated 8th grade last year).  I was very happy and impressed to see a member of the younger generation with such interest in gardening.  There is also a cookbook published and Mel did mention that he will be writing his next book on Herbs!  He will be asking for the assistance of the Midwestern Herb group who hosted this event and mention them in the book  (I thought that was pretty cool)!

Speaking of herbs … I just recently started planting some herb seeds.  Since it is still too early to plant most of the vegetable seeds, I reason that I can get a good headstart with the herbs and even start using them for cooking.

 Dark Opal Basil

 Dill seedlings

This Rosemary and Stevia I did purchase at the show even though I have planted seeds of my own.  This is the first time with stevia and the seeds are very tiny and there were only a few in the packette so I thought I would purchase a plant already started.  Same for the rosemary – it can be fickle at times to start from seed.  Other herb seeds started are lemongrass, oregano, marjoram, lavender, winter savory, thyme, sage, anise, cumin and lemon balm. 

Each year the International Herb Association chooses the Herb of the Year and this year’s choice is Dill.  You can find information on their website and I also discovered this nice post along with some recipes by Jim Long on his blog.  He is author of 25 books on herbs, gardening and cooking.

Advice from “Great Garden Companions” by Sally Jean Cunningham states that “dill is a great companion for cabbage family crops, such as brussels sprouts.  The brussels sprouts support the floppy dill, while the dill pulls in the predatory wasps.”

“Planting squash with plant friends, like dill and nasturtiums, gives the squash a competitive edge against pests.  The nasturtiums help repel squash bugs and the dill attracts aphid predators.”

Also … I received word yesterday that my blog was added to which is very exciting!  I submitted my information and if you have a gardening blog of your own you would like added there you can go to the above link and submit your information.

Companion Gardening revisited

From time to time I will revisit pictures, blog posts and articles I have saved on my computer.  Usually this is a good time to clean up the computer and remove those pictures, etc. that are duplicates or that I just don’t need anymore.  I came across a blog post I had written on Companion Gardening and I decided it was time to refresh my memory and browse through the “Great Garden Companions” book written by Sally Jean Cunningham once again, especially since I am planning the garden for next season and should incorporate many of the plants that are beneficial into the scheme of things.

Random notes on Companion Gardening (from previous post)

Four o’clocks  – this flower is considered a trap crop for Japanese beetles.  This means that the beetle will flock to the four o’clock flower instead of its regular target, in my case, I hope to keep them off my rose bushes and hibiscus plants.  Both of these had Japanese beetles dining on them last year.  Each day as the four o’clocks become full I intend to have a bucket of soapy water on hand and flick the beetles in the bucket .. this I am thinking will immobilize them … permanently.

Nasturtiums  – this is a picture of how I plant most of my seeds in trays and since the nasturtium seeds are quite big, you can see them clearly.  I scatter the seed in the tray and then cover with the soil, water, place under grow lights and wait for action.  This flower I will plant all over since it is said to attract loads of beneficial insects which are the good bugs that eat the bad bugs who do the damage to your plants.  They also are said to repel aphids, potato beetle, Mexican bean beetles, cucumber beetle and squash bugs.  I will be planting more nasturtiums near my cucumber, zucchini and beans.  Another note states to plant with vine crops to protect ground beetles and spiders (beneficial insects).

 Buckwheat is used as a cover crop because it adds good nutrients to your soil.  If there is an empty garden place make sure to grow some buckwheat there.  I have an area which one day will be planted with flowers.  I tossed some buckwheat seeds in this area and will let them do their magic.  I will also plant buckwheat in borders around the gardens since it attracts parasitic wasps, hoverflies and honeybees … the good bugs

Also between the corn rows to attract wasps that parasitize the corn earworm!

Basil –  I will plant around my tomato plants along with Borage which will repel the tomato hornworm.  Basil also repels aphids, asparagus beetles, mites and mosquitoes.  Borage will attract bees and other beneficial insects.  My pepper plants will be nearby along with marigolds that will be planted throughout the gardens.

I found this very interesting regarding the dandelion – they have taproots which reach down below the topsoil to absorb important nutrients from the subsoil, which become part of the dandelion plant.  Make sure to add the dandelion (before it flowers) to your compost or back into the topsoil for those important nutrients.

 “Great Garden Companions” written by Sally Jean Cunningham is the source of my research and a book I highly recommend.

I will add more notes after rereading the book but one tip that I will add now is to start your flower and/or herb seeds indoors.  You want to get a jump start on them so they are already blooming or producing when you plant your other seedlings out such as tomatoes, cucumber, squash so they can perform the companion tasks of repelling evil bugs and encouraging good bugs. 

Here’s a heads up note – There will be free seeds offered to the first 20 participants in the Great Garden Giveaway and one of those seeds is the Golden Guardian Marigold which I have used and continue to use in my gardens … a good companion plant!