edible landscaping

Top 10 Companion Plants

10. Three Sisters (Corn Squash and Beans)

Native American agricultural tribes have been using this combination of corn, squash and beans for centuries because it works. A fish would be buried under a small mound for fertilizer and corn would be planted on top of the mound. Squash would cover the ground beneath the corn while the beans climbed up the corn and added nitrogen to the soil. Multiple mounds could be integrated into an edible landscape. Though this is only one combination of plants that work well together, it is simple, proven to work, and a great basis for understanding permaculture gardening strategies.

9. Yarrow

Yarrow is a beautiful wildflower that both repels insect pests and attracts beneficial insects to the garden such as predatory wasps, ladybugs, butterflies and bees. Yarrow is known for its beautiful, intricate leaves and bright flowers and can be effectively used to combat soil erosion. Besides benefitting the garden, this herb can be used as an anti-inflammatory agent, a tonic, astringent, or can be used in a variety of other medical uses. Flowers can be used to make bitters and has been historically used to flavor beer. Due to its hardy nature, yarrow thrives just about anywhere in the garden and comes in a variety of colors, making it excellent for aesthetic and practical purposes in any garden.

8. Stinging Nettles

Possibly the most unpleasant plant on this list, the stinging nettle is considered a weed by most. Chemical secretions within this plant cause it to burn when handled, so exhibit caution. Despite its drawbacks, stinging nettles are used in a variety of medicines and remedies including gastrointestinal aid, BPH, increasing testosterone in bodybuilding, or as a treatment for rheumatism. The leaves are eaten by many types of caterpillars and will increase the amount of beneficial insects in the garden. Stinging nettles are a natural repellent to aphids and the roots contain anti-fungal properties. Nettle leaves can be cooked as a healthy green or dried and used in herbal teas (soaking in water and cooking eliminate the sting). This weed is extremely beneficial, though care must be taken around the stinging leaves.

7. Wormwood

A strong, but pleasant smelling plant, wormwood is most famously used in absinthe, though can also be used to brew beer, wine, and in making bitters. This hardy bush contains chemicals that are the base of all standard malaria medications, but with wormwood no medication is necessary. It is a natural mosquito repellent, as well as a deterrent for moths, slugs, fleas, flies, and mice. Scattering wormwood around the perimeter of a garden acts as a natural fence to ward off unwanted visitors.

6. Marjoram/Oregano

These perennial herbs are a great addition to nearly any garden. They are unobtrusive to other plants and will increase yields of beans, asparagus, chives, eggplants, pumpkin, squash or cucumbers amongst many others. As long as the light is not being blocked and there is plenty of room for root growth, most plants will thrive alongside both marjoram and oregano. An aromatic mixture of herbs such as mint, spearmint, oregano, lavender or lemon balm can fill any empty spaces in the garden, stifling weed growth.

5. Mint

Everyone needs an herb garden. Besides repelling moths, ants and mice, mint is a great addition to many drinks, desserts, or as a garnish. Keep mint with other similar herbs and they will quickly fill out the space. Cabbage and tomatoes reportedly increase yields in the presence of mint, but proceed with caution. Despite all of its benefits, left on its own mint will take over a garden. It grows back with a vengeance after being cut. That being said, there will be no reason to ever buy mint at a grocery store again.

4. Beans (Legumes)

Everyone loves beans, and for good reason. Part of the legume family, they don’t need much space, they’re healthy, and they will revitalize your garden soil. Unlike many plants that use up valuable nitrogen from the earth, beans actually put it back through special enzymes in their roots. Known as nitrogen fixing, legumes take atmospheric nitrogen (N2) and convert it to Ammonium (NH4) in the soil, making this macronutrient available to future and current plants in the vicinity. Aside from plants in the onion family, beans will thrive alongside most crops. For best results, plant legumes before, after, and amongst heavy feeders like tomatoes, squash or broccoli.

3. Chives

Great in soup and even better in the garden, chives are a hardy, low growing part of the onion family. Besides inhibiting mildew growth and repelling many harmful insects, the bright purple flowers are known to attract bees, which are needed to pollinate squash, tomatoes, cherries, or a plethora of other flowering plants. Chives are best grown under most types of trees, bushes and vines but should not be present alongside beans. Harvesting can be done throughout the season as this plant will constantly regrow its leaves. Chives and other members of the onion family are excellent additions to any garden.

2. Garlic

Besides flavor, garlic has a multitude of benefits for many plants. Because this bulb thrives in shaded, nutrient rich soil, cover plants are recommended. Garlic has been known to deter ants, mosquitoes, aphids, cabbage butterflies, caterpillars, snails, tomato worms, weevils and vampires (can never be too careful). Despite all the apparent benefits, avoid planting garlic with any type of beans, cabbages, or sunflowers since they will compete with one another for valuable nutrients. Next time you have an extra clove of garlic, plant it under a fruit tree, amongst cucumbers, or interspersed with lavender. It will grow with minimal effort. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, and garlic certainly is that friend.

1. Tomatoes and Basil

Probably the most well known example of companion plants. Besides improving each others flavor, tomatoes and basil really do work together. The tomato vines provide shade for the delicate basil, which delays flowering, lengthens the harvesting season, and overall increases the yield. Meanwhile, basil is a natural repellent for fruit flies, house flies, and aphids who want nothing more than to lay eggs in a plump, delicious tomato. Tomato roots run deep, while basil tends to stay closer to the surface, eliminating competition between the two plants. High yields and high flavor means true plant love.

2

One of the peaches I started from pits blossomed!

I’m in shock because: 

1. Growing fruit trees from seed is a gamble. 

2. We had a warm winter without even the threat of frost. Peaches usually need a frost or at least a chilling period.

3. Trees are less than 3 years old. Planted out in November 2014.

Since there’s only 2 tiny blossoms on the same tree, I don’t know if it will pollinate, but I’m so excited just for progress. Tiny success!

3

Just a year ago, these were just little single unrooted sempervivum rosettes I plucked off the side of other plants, to fill the spaces between the bricks of the herb spiral.

Now, they have cloned themselves with more lateral rosettes, and have begun to bloom! I am hoping that in a few years, I won’t see the bricks at all.

8

Hi Tumblrs! Happy Sunday. I haven’t been posting a lot of food pictures and recipes lately because I have a job now. I’m a landscape designer and installer. I’m growing more food than ever though, at 4 different houses including my own. It’s the best job I’ve ever had. This is my work from the past month. These photos are of a back yard garden makeover. My crew is doing an awesome job. They’ve been working so hard and so have I. I built the brick labyrinth patio in the center mostly by myself. My friend Sarah helped me with a few rows of bricks, as did the homeowner and her friend Courtney. My crew installed all the DG, the bender board and hardscape lines, framed out and installed the big pavers for the dining patio, created drip irrigation everywhere, helped me plant everything, and made me laugh a lot which makes the day go by fast. 

In the first picture is a huge raised vegetable garden, one of two. These vegetable beds have really taken off! We’re growing peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, basil, squash, cucumber, malabar spinach, arugula, thyme, and beans. Yum! I also planted California native plants and succulents in garden beds throughout the yard, and big drought tolerant shrubs and trees in pots. The second set of pics you can see the property before, it was basically a big rectangular dirt patch with a massive stack of bricks in one corner. The picture next to it is after the hardscape elements were finished. We used the bricks to create a labyrinth-esque patio around the fire pit. You can actually walk this labyrinth, I made a bunch of turns in it. Now it’s after the after there’s furniture everywhere and a few more plants. I love the way this garden looks and feels. In the last set of pics is a green frog fountain that was sitting in three different pieces scattered about the yard. My crew set it up and we bought a small pump and got it working. My crew is amazing. I have to go there today to plant a vine and check on things. I can’t wait. I love my job! I would do this for free. Don’t tell any of my clients I said that.

5

If I could, I would replace all my grass with thyme.

I have seven different cultivars growing now, with outstanding features like lemon and pineapple flavours, variegated or brightly-coloured foliage, and creeping or bushy habits. I can really never have enough thyme.

Thymes (Thymus spp.) are in the mint (Lamiaceae) family. They’re beautiful, small-leafed plants that attract all sorts of pollinators with countless small blossoms.

I take chunks off of the thyme plants I have growing in the herb spiral to start areas of groundcover elswhere in the garden. They form patches easily from a small rooted stem.

I plant strawberries in a bed of thyme to repel pests, which allows the fruit to lay on soft, hygienic leaves, instead of soil.

My plants that need a little winter protection over the root ball are often planted under a bed of thyme, allowing them to be insulated during the colder months: tarragon, for example, springs up reliably every year from underneath a patch of golden thyme.

Under foot and between paving stones, thyme holds weeds at bay, and releases a sweet scent into the air when stepped on.

In essence, it’s a perfect permaculture plant, because it fulfills numerous functions: it’s edible, aesthetically-pleasing, labour-reducing, and insectary.

Dear Seattle,

A team of awesome individuals and I are creating a map of forageable sites in Seattle neighborhoods. The idea is to connect with home and business owners to gain permission for a team of volunteers to harvest their viable produce-bearing trees, vines, etc. and donate what the owners don’t need to those in our community who need help getting fresh produce.
Also seeking folks who will let us plant edible landscaping in their yards/parking strips for the same purpose.
Are you into it? Know anyone who is? Connect me!

Spread this idea around, share it however you see fit. This is an important project! We can help our local homeless and impoverished in huge ways with a little effort and teamwork!

ALSO: those who already have gardens and actively harvest their permaculture, please consider letting me know if you have excess you want to donate! Someone from my team will come pick up, or we can connect you with a list of drop-off points.

And gang, this is a project that I am personally spearheading. If you want to be involved, contact me! If you have any input, let me know!

Thanks, you are all champions!

Love,

Friday

Arugula Strawberry Nasturtium Flower Salad 

This salad was 100% grown in our garden. It has two kinds of edible flowers, nasturtium petals and arugula flowers. Arugula flowers are delicious, they taste like arugula only a little bit sweeter because they have a bit of nectar inside. Arugula is very easy to grow, it grows like a weed. I like to spread the seeds a few weeks apart to keep the harvest coming. It likes to grow in cooler temperatures. It’s also the one type of salad green I’ve noticed that doesn’t get bitter and tough when it goes to flower. In fact, the leaves get bigger and more flavorful, and the flowers are quite delicious. The nasturtium petals are delicious too, they have a very soft texture and are quite peppery tasting. This was dressed with a light dressing made from Meyer lemon juice (from our tree!) along with honey, olive oil, and salt and pepper. I rubbed the bowl with a cut garlic clove before adding all the greens and dressing. I can’t wait to make this again! 

Yum! Happy Spring everyone! 

Amazing that despite the long winter, the plants and trees are right on time.  

Nectarine about to flower.  

I’m trying to pull the nectarine tree in closer to the house, it’s nicely protected from winter under the eaves and gets lots of direct sun.  Can I get ahead of the peach leaf wilt this year is the big question.