Monthly Archives: January 2016

Companion Planting with Dill

Companion Planting: Dill.

Plants that assist each other to grow well, repel insects or even other plants when grown next to each other is called companion planting and can be a sustainable and eco-friendly way to improve and protect your garden against unwanted pests and disease.

Chromatography has been used to explain why some plants like or dislike being planted with other plants. It is possible to make a specific chromatographic test to find out why, or if at all, a plant is helping or hindering its neighbors. Chromatography has also been used to prove that plants do significantly better with compost than without.

A good companion plant for cabbage, improving its growth and vigor. Dill does not do well planted with carrots and will reduce the carrot crop. It can be sowed with cucumbers and lettuce often deterring the pests that frequent these plants.

Natural Insect and Disease Control: Devil’s Shoestring

Natural Insect and Disease Control:

Devil’s Shoestring: Tephrosia virginiana.

Devil’s shoestring got its name from voodoo and witchcraft. It was used to “trip up” the devil and keep him from your door.

There are about 19 species of this North American native weed and much confusion over how they look with many being called Devil’s shoestring and being described as a big clump of grass or more like a vine. This member of the viburnum family has a valuable natural insecticidal property to it. Although low in toxicity to animals, it is regarded as poisonous to fish. Wild turkeys however love to eat it.

Resembling a large clump of grass growing in the open and in light shade on limestone slopes and cliffs, the roots contain the popular natural insecticide ingredient rotenone and can be used by making a strong tea of them, straining it with a coffee filter and then spraying it onto infested plants with a spray bottle.

Also known as rabbit bean, turkey pea, goat’s rue and hoary pea, Native Americans used it for medicinal purposes and to poison fish. It prefers well-drained sandy soils. The photo above is known most commonly as goat’s rue.

Also read about how to get rid of thistles naturally in this month’s archived articles.

Beneficial Bugs: Nematodes.

Beneficial Bugs: Nematodes.

Phylum: Nematoda

We usually think of nematodes as being a bad thing, but there are bad nematodes and good nematodes. Beneficial nematodes attack soil-borne pests. They kill their hosts by invading them and then releasing a bacteria that causes the host blood poisoning.

Beneficial nematodes are microscopic, so you won’t be able to see them, but you can purchase them in a paste-like form from some garden suppliers. Add water to the paste and sprinkle it on moist soil around plants in the evening when the sun won’t just bake them. One particular species of nematode called Steinernema carpocapsea is very effective against caterpillars, cutworms, webworms and billbugs. Heterorhabditis bacteriophora loves Japanese beetle grubs.

Good nematodes can also be used to control fleas, iris borers, cabbage root maggots and strawberry root weevils.

Also read about controlling thistles and the edible daylily in this month’s archived articles.

Companion Planting: Daylily

Companion Planting: Daylily.

Plants that assist each other to grow well, repel insects or even other plants when grown next to each other is called companion planting and can be a sustainable and eco-friendly way to improve and protect your garden against unwanted pests and disease.

Chromatography has been used to explain why some plants like or dislike being planted with other plants. It is possible to make a specific chromatographic test to find out why, or if at all, a plant is helping or hindering its neighbors. Chromatography has also been used to prove that plants do significantly better with compost than without.

One little known fact about daylilies is that they are edible. Buds and blossoms can be sautéed in butter, added to squash dishes or tomato dishes. They can also be dipped in batter and deep fried like squash blossoms.

As a companion plant, they are good to plant on a hill to prevent erosion or on a slope that is too steep to mow.

Also read about Best Harvest Festivals in the U.S and China Asters in this month’s archived articles.

Beneficial Bugs: Earthworms

Beneficial Bugs: Earthworms.

Class: Chilopoda

From the time we are kids, we are told that worms are good for the garden and soil, but we rarely are ever told why. Earthworms can eat their weight in decaying plant matter every day. That thick band you see toward one end of their bodies is the area that holds their reproductive organs. Two worms become impregnated by each other and offspring can live for 10-12 years.

Earthworm castings (excrement) greatly improve the texture and mineral content of the soil. They are high in phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium, all minerals many soils would lack without these soil dwellers.

To encourage worms in your garden, make sure to add plenty of compost to keep them in your garden soil. If they do not have organic matter in the soil to feed on, they will go elsewhere.