companions planting was never so easy
Foreign plants do quite well here, they appear here there and everywhere without you having to spread a single seed and they are very hardy. Any other gardener looks on these “weeds” with bored cynacism and reaches for the round-up.
Don’t judge them on those nasty rumours that Monsanto spins, they can be useful and some are edible too.
Native to Europe and Asia, can use to loosen overgrazed, compacted pastoral soils as well as in the humblke veggie patch.
Dandelion companion planting
Their long deep tap roots break up hard soil and bring nutrients up from deep down to benefit shallower rooted annuals without competing for surface nutrients. They also release ethylene gas which aids in fruit ripening, so a patch of
Most intriguing of all is their power to combat fusarium wilt, a soil-borne fungal disease that effects tomatoes grown in the same soil year after year. This disease reduces health and yield of tomatoes, but dandelion roots produce an acid that starves the disease of iron.
Used as a nutritious salad green, often confused (by me at least ) with RED RIB DANDELION which is actually a chicory, but still a great addition to a salad!
Sow thistle too is said to aid growth, but I’m slightly suss on this particular edible. There was a particularly old and serrated one in my garden bed which I brushed passed. Where it touched my skin I came up in what can only be described as a horribly itchy flea bite like rash. With a reaction that extreme I’m loathed to put it in my mouth, no matter how nutritious it is. Turns out I’m one of those unlucky people with an allergy to the old Sow!
Native to Europe and Northern Africa, be heartened that when you feel its sweet sting at your ankles and merrily hop in pain that it is an indicator that your soils is oh so fertile, pop a tomato next door for optimum results.
This was one of the Permaculture lessons that blew my mind, Peak Oil aside, could that horrible stinging nettle that I had long called weed be a friend?
Nettle in companion planting
Nettles are said to increase disease resistance and resilience to insect attacks. People even go so far to say it improves the flavour of its neighbours, increasing their production of aromatic oils. As a tomato companion they improve their keeping quality by slowing down the fermentation process and for eggplants they are the ladybird’s preferred breeding ground so bad news for the resident aphids. And remember why nettles make a good mulch?
I recommend you pick up a copy of Adam Grubb’s Weed Forager’s Handbook to learn more, it’s really fascinating.
Eat the tender young leaves dried, blended or cooked for these benefits:
So next time you feel tempted to pull that weed, maybe rethink the definition and pull the ornamental taking up valuable tomato space instead.
Nettles are a protected place for caterpillars to transform into beautiful butterflies.
Butterfly metamotphosis photos taken by my clever dad