Bill Fox: Lenoir County Master Gardeners Plant Sale

Bill Fox: Lenoir County Master Gardeners Plant Sale

by Bill Fox
Lenoir County Master Gardener Volunteer

Lenoir County Master Gardeners Plant Sale

April 19 – 12:00 to 4:00 p.m.

April 20 – 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Location – The Lenoir County Extension office Greenhouse

1791 Hwy 11/55  - Kinston NC

We have concentrated on two themes this year. First, we have included in our plantings that are for sale, many native plants and pollinator friendly flowers and plants. Second, we are highlighting the exciting values of “companion planting”.  We have concentrated on the many advantageous companion relationships between vegetables and herbs with some exciting similar relationships between some vegetables and flowers.

Companion Planting

Companion planting, for the layman, is best described as the practice of planting two or more plants together or near one another to enhance the growth and the quality of nearby plants, or to provide maximum ground cover, or when possible to improve the soil.  

This approach to gardening offers many benefits, with a trade off being that more thought needs to go into the garden planning stage when deciding which plants should go where. While there are still some questions of exactly what is at work in making some plants good companions, science over the years has provided proof on many of the issues.  

Some of these things that we know work well are what we are talking about and featuring. Some of the successful companion planting relationships are due to chemical secretions at the roots, which affect other plants or have an effect on organisms in the soil. It is thought that some plants emit a gas or odor that can repel pests from either the roots or above the ground parts of the plants.

With some of these normal pests out of the way due to these effects the plant can then flourish. Lots of lab work has been done and more is being done that explore which plants are companionable with others. These studies determine companion ability and establish a degree of certainty and expected results.

What we talk about in our sale, is a very small slice of the companion planting knowledge that exists today. Agriculture is way into inter-cropping and much more is starting to happen there that utilize some of these same approaches. We will talk about herbs primarily and a little about flowers. These herbs have relationships good and bad for flowers, vegetables, trees etc. There are many flowers that are good companion plants for each other, and for vegetables as well as herbs.

What we are going to go into here is primarily what herbs or flowers makes good companion plants for vegetables. Some well-known companions in the flower world are parsley and roses and catnip which is very helpful to several flowers such as bee balm, hollyhocks, pincushion flowers, shasta daisies, yarrow, and roses. Companion Planting will require the gardener to shake off some old concepts and make room for some new ones.  Like for instance your thoughts on weeds.

Ever heard of stinging nettles? Not very nice are they? But it has been proven that stinging nettles grown near basil or rosemary, or lavender or any herb grown for the purpose of harvesting its essential oils, will improve the yield of same by a whopping 75 per cent. Companion planting can increase the yield of your vegetables and even enhance the taste of many of them if planted with specific herb. A handout is at the cashiers table that gives culinary info on all the herbs.

Herbs and any known companion planting aspects

Basil (All kinds or any kind) - Does not like rue or sage. Do not plant near rue or sage. Excellent companion plants for tomatoes, peppers, oregano, asparagus, and petunias. Helps to repel Mosquitos, flies, and thrips.

Borage -This herb deters horned tomato worms and cabbage worms. Excellent companion plant for tomatoes, squash, & strawberries. Loosens compacted soils, and provides organic potassium, calcium, and other trace minerals that all vegetables need. Does not have a known bad companion plant. Greatly attracts pollinators, bees hoverflies etc. Plant near any veggie in your garden and reap the benefit this plant provides as a companion.

Chamomile - is an excellent companion plant for cabbages, cucumber and onions. It improves flavor and growth of each. Plant sparingly though! Plant one every 150 feet. Plant with wheat at a one hundred wheat kernels to one chamomile seed. It has anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties.

Chives - This is the #1 must have kitchen herb. Hardy perennial and is a “workhorse companion plant” for any plant that is bothered by insect pests. Place chives near these plants and the chives will generally drive the pests away. They look gorgeous in salads or outdoors growing. They are full of vitamins & minerals, full of carotene which is a flavonoid antioxidant like lutein that protects you from lung and mouth cancer. It also fights high blood pressure. Many other vitamins and minerals have high levels in this.

Coriander/Cilantro - Repels aphids, spider mites, & the potato beetle. Coriander tea makes an excellent spray for spider mites. Helpful to anise in germinating. Attractive to bees.  

Dill - Great companion plant for cabbage and lettuce. Improves the plants health and flavor. Do not plant near carrots! It also can greatly reduce the yield of caraway and tomatoes, as it is known to attract tomato horn worms. Dill grows well if lightly sowed between, lettuce, onions, sweet corn or cucumbers. Honey bees love it. It also attracts hoverflies swallowtail butterflies, bees and predatory wasps. It will repel aphids spider mites and sometimes squash bugs. Use Dill in a salt free diet. Rich in mineral salts. Make dill water for flatulence, indigestion, stomach cramps, insomnia and colic.

Marjoram - Very similar to Oregano and can be used in place of Oregano. It is slightly less bitey than oregano. It is a friend to all plants and improves growth and flavor of any vegetable it is planted near. There are no bad companions known for this plant.

Sweet-Marigold (Licorice) - Anise fragrance. It is an excellent companion plant for any kind of basil, broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers, kale, eggplant, gourds, potatoes, squash and tomatoes. It is not a good companion plant for beans.

Mint - Good companion plant for cabbage and tomatoes. Improves the growth and flavor of both. It also repels the butterflies from cabbage worms and helps deter those same worms. It helps deter red ants from your plants. Those are the ones that deposit aphids on your plants. Mint is very easy to grow and you may want to consider growing it in containers as it has a penchant to spread and is perennial. Does not do well with parsley.

Oregano - This herb is closely related to Marjoram, but has a slightly spicier flavor. Commonly used on pizza and pasta sauces marinades for meats poultry and grilled vegetables, soups meat and fish dishes. It is perennial, a nice border plant. It is a good companion plant for most plants. Excellent for cabbages and grapes. Plant near broccoli cabbage and cauliflower as it repels the butterflies. It also repels the cucumber beetle when planted near cucumbers.

Parsley - Parsley is a good companion to asparagus, carrots, chives, onions, roses, and tomatoes. Parsley also attracts hoverflies and when it goes to seed it will attract the parasitic wasps. It will actually improve the fragrance when planted near roses. Parsley is a bad companion to Mint. Neither plant will do well if planted near each other.

Sage: Hardy perennial - Protects against cabbage worms and butterflies and moths. Helps the flavor and growth for cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots. Repels carrot flies. It is mutually beneficial when planted with rosemary. Do not plant with rue, cucumbers. or onions. It is not an ally or a friend of any of these plants. Cucumber is not an ally with aromatic herbs in general, and in particular not with sage.

Tarragon: Primarily a culinary herb _ It has an anise odor and largely due to that, it basically repels pests in your garden. It is recommended to improve the growth and flavor of all vegetables.

Thyme: Thyme is an easy to grow, hard to kill perennial plant - Known for its seasoning and dressing for poultry. This herb is good to be planted anywhere in the garden. It will accent the aromatic qualities of other herbs and plants. It deters the cabbage worm when planted near cabbage, kale, or broccoli plants. It is a good companion plant for eggplant, potatoes, and tomatoes.

Rosemary: Rosemary is an aromatic plant; a hardy perennial - The leaves look like small pine needles. VERY AROMATIC! Full sun or light shade and well-drained soil. Rosemary is a helpful companion plant for cabbage, beans, carrots, sage, and hot peppers. It repels cabbage moths, bean beetles, and carrot flies, planting carrots, potatoes, and pumpkins near Rosemary are not advised as they are very poor companions.

Lavender - We are trying to raise English Lavender. It is slow to germinate but, when established is a hardy perennial. It prefers alkaline soil. It does not require much water. It will not do well near sprinklers or near plants that require water. Deer and rabbit resistant and a pollinator attractor. It deters whiteflies and coddling moths from fruit trees.

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