Companion Planting: A Reliable Option or Nonsense?: Mountain mint

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Companion Planting:  A Reliable Option or Nonsense?

By wildflowers
August 29, 2010

So what about Companion Planting? Is it merely folk lore and old wives' tales without any scientific evidence to back it up? Or can you create a beautiful garden that flourishes in rhythm with the natural balance that mother earth has to offer (without the use of pesticides or other harmful chemicals) by using companion planting practices? Maybe some traditions and folklore were created for a reason.

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Name: Lance Gardner
coastal plain Virginia (Zone 7a)
Question authority, guide in wisdom
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Lance
Sep 4, 2010 7:56 AM CST
One of the best plants I have ever seen for attracting beneficial insects is the east coast native mountain mint, Pycnanthemum muticum. There are several other species, as well, that will probably also work. They are such tiny little flowers, but work amazingly well. And the mint is also one of the strongest ones I have ever smelled. Beware, however, they are mints and spread quite well. Don't let that deter you, just keep an eye on it and give away what you pull.
Here is something I have tried for many years, but more so this year. I had read that potatoes repel bean beetles, and beans repel potato bugs. So I thought the same might hold for beans and tomatoes. I planted pole beans and tomatoes in a long row, and let them intertwine. I just now noticed my first bean beetles, and no potato bugs anywhere, so it seems to be working. In other years, the bean beetles destroy the beans. Spider mites on the beans were a problem, but the beans are still surviving and producing, so I can tolerate that.
Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground -- the unborn of the future Nation. The Constitution of the Iroquois Nations.
Dogs; Family Fun Unplugged; Perennials, Annuals, Veggies; Happy Birthday Wishes
Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
The WITWIT Badge Organic Gardener Native Plants and Wildflowers Critters Allowed Birds Bee Lover
Dragonflies Herbs Keeper of Poultry Vegetable Grower Composter Hummingbirder
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wildflowers
Sep 4, 2010 8:54 AM CST
Lance, Thanks for the sharing this info!

It's always so good to learn from actual experience rather that just the concept!!

We have a mountain mint growing here too called Pycnanthemum incanum that really attracts many varieties of bees, hoverflies, wasps like a magnet! I have found that to be true of a few other natives here... when they are in bloom all the native insects are buzzing around!

We have had so much heat this summer that some of the mountain mint did not do too well. This patch found growing among the other natives in partial shade is thriving!

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May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Name: Neil
London\Kent Border
Forum moderator Garden Ideas: Master Level Tip Photographer I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Charter ATP Member Region: United Kingdom
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NEILMUIR1
Jul 26, 2014 1:19 AM CST
Dear Christine, a most fabulous Article. In the UK in Agriculture we use conservation headlands. As we have thousands of miles of ancient hedges the idea was to leave a gap of about 9 feet, but this varies depending on field size! The idea is and it works is to let the ancient hedgerows and the native wildflowers that abound in the headlands attract insects that are beneficial to the crops that are grown.
It works very well as the organic movement in the UK is large, and they support this method. No pesticides or herbicides are used on the crops. The natural predators of many of the destructive pests flourish in the conservation headlands and the birds benefit from the insects and fruit from the hedgerows. The birds also eat many insects that are pests. Swallows, house martins and our native sparrows, starlings, Robins, blackbirds and thrushes who thrive snails. Our woodland provides a good habitat along with peoples gardens for Hedgehogs, they love slugs and snails.
As for Allotments which are most popular for both vegetable and flower growing, they are using similar techniques. I do not know if you have allotments in the US? But basically the Council have to give people without gardens (mainly in cities), the right for a space of land to grow vegetables and indeed flowers. Allotments are highly sort after and there is a huge waiting list!
In our garden we grow Rosemary as a companion plant, This si because it has a most volatile oil and seems to deter both carrot and onion flies. Nasturtiums we use for salads as the leaves are like watercress and the flowers look wonderful in salads, They are edible and safe. Of course the dreaded cabbage white butterfly will demolish nasturtiums and set their eggs upon them. A small sacrifice for the safety of our brassicas. Although they do not attack them alone, vigilance is vital. African marigolds are also most effective, as they stink, and seem to ward of a lot of things.
Thyme planted between the paaving cracks, also seems to make unwanted pests go away. Herbs seem to have a natural repellent to some insects.
Regards from a very hot and humid England.
Neil.
p.s. my new Passion flower.



Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
The WITWIT Badge Organic Gardener Native Plants and Wildflowers Critters Allowed Birds Bee Lover
Dragonflies Herbs Keeper of Poultry Vegetable Grower Composter Hummingbirder
Image
wildflowers
Jul 26, 2014 6:20 PM CST
Neil, thank you for the compliment.

What beautiful photos of your passion flower! It looks almost life-like with the water droplets, especially in the second photo!!

I also loved reading about your experiences with companion planting. I'm especially fond of hearing about beneficial insects and birds being invited and welcome in the garden. You mentioned swallows which are very good bug eaters. We happen to have a swallow family nesting under our porch eaves right now, which doesn't bother us much. Especially since they are helping keep the bug population down. Right now there's a second batch of four little hatchlings sitting in the nest, although it seems surprisingly late in the year! It's so hot here in Texas during the summer months; poor little things. We had a chuckle watching them this morning as each baby bird turned around, tail side out, and one by one pooped outside of the nest. Hilarious!
May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Name: Neil
London\Kent Border
Forum moderator Garden Ideas: Master Level Tip Photographer I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Charter ATP Member Region: United Kingdom
Ferns Native Plants and Wildflowers Seed Starter Cat Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters The WITWIT Badge
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NEILMUIR1
Jul 26, 2014 7:31 PM CST
Dear Christine, we have water meadows near us so get a lot of unwanted insects. However nature has provided the answer with the swallows, sand martins and House martins, which are all swallow family.
To help matters further we have a lot of Common pipistrelle bats, As we have no rabies at all in the UK and all bats are highly protected by law, large colonies exist. It is a most wonderful sight to see them vacuuming the insects up from the meadows, and indeed anywhere els they can find them!
We have a large colony of Common pipistrelle just near us living in the roof of a neighbours house. Although messy, they cause no trouble really as they are small, but fantastic insect catchers.
Regrads from a most humid England.
Neil.
p.s. A Hibiscus in flower in the garden!
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