Companion Planting for Fruit Trees: Natural Insect Repellents

Written By TheListLady

peaches on the tree
peaches on the tree

Companion Planting for Fruit Trees

While modern agriculture relies heavily on toxic chemicals to raise crops and control insects, home gardeners are reaping the benefits of companion planting; the natural way to attract beneficial insects and avoid the use of pesticides. Fruit trees can be protected if the right plants are used nearby. The method of course is not new.

What is companion planting?

Companion planting is about creating a natural environment in the garden to encourage the quality growth of nearby crops. Putting the right plants together enhances growth, improves soil and controls the destructive insect population yet attracts beneficial insects. Nature is balanced.

What is the “Three Sisters” method of companion planting?

The “Three Sisters” method of companion planting was how Native Americans created a system of companion planting. This system provided a balanced diet of corn, beans, and squash from a single plot of land.

How did it work?

The corn stalks provided support for climbing beans, which did not compete with the corn – and provided its own nitrogen – while the squash created a dense cover that shaded out weeds which would have affected the corn and beans.

What are some companion plants for fruit trees?

1 – Garlic – Use garlic to repel aphids, caterpillars, mites, and Japanese beetles. Garlic is considered a beneficial nursery plant because it attracts good insects by providing shelter, pollen and nectar.

Peach Trees – Plant garlic at the base to repel borers and prevent leaf curl.

Apple Trees – Plant near apple trees to protect against apple scab.

2 – Comfrey – Comfrey is beneficial for the avocado tree and most other fruit trees because it serves as a trap crop for slugs. A trap crop pushes insects away from other essential plants because of its disagreeable taste or a bad smell. The comfrey plant will also accumulate calcium, phosphorus, and potassium. It will help keep surrounding soil moist and rich.

3 – Chives – Chives, like garlic, is one of the most popular repellents because of its powerful ability to repel beetles and aphids. Plant chives to prevent apple scab while growing under apple trees. It will also repel mites and nematodes.

4 – Nasturtiums – Plant under a fruit tree to deter white flies, squash bugs, cabbage moths, potato beetles, and the striped pumpkin beetle. It also acts as a trap crop (see definition in number 2) for aphids. Nasturtiums will limit woolly aphid damage.

5 – Lavender – Plant lavender and it will repel fleas, ticks, and mice. Plant near or under fruit trees to deter the coding moth, while attracting beneficial insects such as butterflies. (see link below for ways to attract butterflies to your garden)

6 – Tansy – Plant around fruit trees to repel flying insects, Japanese beetles, squash bugs, cucumber beetles, ants, and moths. Tansy will also concentrate potassium into the soil.

7 – Clover – Plant around apple trees to attract predators of the woolly aphid while it also attracts many beneficial insects.

8 – Leeks and Onions – Plant leeks near apple trees to improve their growth. Plant onions to repel borers, slugs, cutworms and mites.

For more gardening ideas, see links below:

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Plant Nutrient Deficiencies, Identifying Plant Problems

By , Guide

Original Article:

Not all plant problems are caused by insects or diseases. Sometimes an unhealthy plant is suffering from a nutrient deficiency or even too much of any one nutrient. Plant nutrient deficiencies often manifest as foliage discoloration or distortion. The following chart outlines some possible problems. Unfortunately many problems have similar symptoms and sometimes it is a combination of problems.

Be sure you eliminate the obvious before you kill your plants with kindness.

  • Check first for signs of insects or disease.
  • Foliage discoloration and stunted plants can easily be caused by soil that is too wet and drains poorly or soil that is too compacted for good root growth.
  • Extreme cold or heat will slow plant growth and effect flowering and fruit set.
  • Too much fertilizer can result in salt injury. Your plants may look scorched or they may wilt, even when the soil is wet.

For a definitive diagnoses, contact your local cooperative extension service.

Plants require a mix of nutrients to remain healthy. Nutrients that are needed in relatively large amounts are called the macronutrients. Plant macronutrients include: nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, sulfur and magnesium.

There are a handful of additional nutrients that are required for plant growth, but in much smaller quantities. These micronutrients include: boron, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum and zinc.

All of these nutrients are taken in through the roots. Water transfers the nutrients from the soil to the plant roots. So one requirement of sufficient plant nutrition is water. A second requirement is the appropriate soil pH for the plant being grown. Each plant prefers a specific pH range to be able to access the nutrients in the soil. Some plants are fussier than others, but if the soil pH is too acidic or alkaline, the plant will not be able to take in nutrients no matter how rich your soil may be.

Plant Nutrient Deficiency Symptoms


Calcium (Ca)

  • Symptoms: New leaves are distorted or hook shaped. The growing tip may die. Contributes to blossom end rot in tomatoes, tip burn of cabbage and brown/black heart of escarole & celery.
  • Sources: Any compound containing the word ‘calcium’. Also gypsum.
  • Notes: Not often a deficiency problem and too much will inhibit other nutrients.

Nitrogen (N)

  • Symptoms: Older leaves, generally at the bottom of the plant, will yellow. Remaining foliage is often light green. Stems may also yellow and may become spindly. Growth slows.
  • Sources: Any compound containing the words: ‘nitrate’, ‘ammonium’ or ‘urea’. Also manure.
  • Notes: Many forms of nitrogen are water soluble and wash away.

Magnesium (Mg)

  • Symptoms: Slow growth and leaves turn pale yellow, sometimes just on the outer edges. New growth may be yellow with dark spots.
  • Sources: Compounds containing the word ‘magnesium’, such as Epson Salts.

Phosphorus (P)

  • Symptoms: Small leaves that may take on a reddish-purple tint. Leaf tips can look burnt and older leaves become almost black. Reduced fruit or seed production.
  • Sources: Compounds containing the words ‘phosphate’ or ‘bone’. Also greensand.
  • Notes: Very dependent on pH range.

Potassium (K)

  • Symptoms: Older leaves may look scorched around the edges and/or wilted. Interveinal chlorosis (yellowing between the leaf veins) develops.
  • Sources: Compounds containing the words ‘potassium’ or ‘potash’.

Sulfur (S)

  • Symptoms: New growth turns pale yellow, older growth stays green. Stunts growth.
  • Sources: Compounds containing the word ‘sulfate’.
  • Notes: More prevalent in dry weather.


Boron (B)

  • Symptoms: Poor stem and root growth. Terminal (end) buds may die. Witches brooms sometimes form.
  • Sources: Compounds containing the words ‘borax’ or ‘borate’.

Copper (Cu)

  • Symptoms: Stunted growth. Leaves can become limp, curl, or drop. Seed stalks also become limp and bend over.
  • Sources: Compounds containing the words ‘copper’, ‘cupric’ or ‘cuprous’.

Manganese (Mn)

  • Symptoms: Growth slows. Younger leaves turn pale yellow, often starting between veins. May develop dark or dead spots. Leaves, shoots and fruit diminished in size. Failure to bloom.
  • Sources: Compounds containing the words ‘manganese’ or ‘manganous’

Molybdenum (Mo)

  • Symptoms: Older leaves yellow, remaining foliage turns light green. Leaves can become narrow and distorted.
  • Sources: Compounds containing the words ‘molybdate’ or ‘molybdic’.
  • Notes: Sometimes confused with nitrogen deficiency.

Zinc (Zn)

  • Symptoms: Yellowing between veins of new growth. Terminal (end) leaves may form a rosette.
  • Sources: Compounds containing the word ‘zinc’.
  • Notes: Can become limited in higher pH.

How to Grow Strawberries in Your Garden

Strawberries are considered a perennial fruit, although it is best to grow strawberries as biennials (see “propagating strawberries” below for more information please).

Strawberries are, by far, the most popular garden-grown fruit. They come in so many different varieties, you’re almost certain to find one that will grow well in your climate.

And, there’s always the option of growing strawberries from the wild variety you find near your home. Wild strawberry’s flavor is much sweeter and more concentrated than the commercial varieties. However, the plants produce significantly fewer and smaller fruits much smaller,making it difficult to grow a significant crop of wild strawberries.

Three general types of Cultivated Strawberries:

June-Bearing Strawberries: growing these strawberry varieties will produce 1 crop of fruit each year, early in the summer.

Ever-Bearing Strawberries: growing these strawberry varieties will produce several crops fruit throughout the season, starting mid-summer until frost.

Alpine Strawberries: these are native to Europe and bear small flavorful berries all summer.

How to Grow Strawberries – Nutrition Information

Strawberries offer: vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, beta carotene, folate, malic and citric acids, fiber, and a little protein, iron, and calcium.

Strawberries are a well-known laxative, so don’t get too carried away with that delicious bowl of fresh strawberries! Dehydrated strawberry leaves make a tasty and nutritional tea, high in vitamin C and K. It’s reputed to be especially good for adults and children with diarrhea, digestive, intestinal, or urinary tract issues. A strong strawberry leaf tea is supposed to be a useful treatment (gargle) for tightening gums. Strawberry fruit is supposed to help whiten your teeth. And, strawberry fruit (and leaves) are often used in facial lotions to help close pores and tighten skin.

How to Grow Strawberries – Climate & Growing Conditions

Strawberries are very versatile and can you can grow strawberries throughout the United States and in much of Canada. There are even certain varieties that can be grown in Alaska.

For best success, plant your strawberry patch in a location with full-sun exposure, on a south facing slight hillside (if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere). A southern exposure will produce a crop sooner than if the exposure is otherwise. The hillside promotes air-flow around the plants, which will help you avoid fungal diseases in the strawberry garden patch.

Do not plant strawberries in a garden bed that previously had potatoes, tomatoes, peppers or eggplants. If your selected location did have any of these varieties, it is best to wait at least 3 years before growing strawberries there.

How to Grow Strawberries: Prepare the Garden Soil

Strawberries can grow well in a wide range of soils, as long as the soil has good drainage, is free from weeds, and is rich in organic matter. A dose of bone-meal and aged manure/compost is helpful also for growing strawberries. (Note: Soil that is reasonably rich in organic matter such as compost, is less susceptible to drought and gives your strawberry plant’s roots a much healthier growing environment.)

To grow strawberries, the pH of the soil should be slightly acid: from 5.5 to 6.5. You may want to check your soil’s ph level prior to planting.

It is very important that the soil have good drainage. If the soil is too saturated with water, the strawberry plant roots are easily damaged (which affects the health of the entire plant.) To grow your best crop of healthy strawberries, there should be no standing water on top of the soil after a rain.

It’s also very important that you keep the strawberry bed free of weeds. Strawberries grow well only when there’s no competition from other plants. It’s best to keep a shallow layer of mulch (such as straw) around the plants. This will serve several purposes: it minimizes the weeds, helps the soil retain its moisture, and also keeps the berries cleaner.

How to Grow Strawberries – Planting Strawberries

One can grow strawberries by planting new plants in the spring. However, the best results come from planting them in the fall. This gives the strawberry plants an early start for an extended growing season in their first year. The first year is important, because it prepares the plant for the harvest year (2nd year). When growing strawberries, the healthier and more vigorous the plant in its first year, the better your crop will be in the harvest year.

For the best start to your strawberry garden, consider requesting “virus-free” plants when you purchase your new plants. The roots of the young plants should be healthy, vigorous, and straw-colored. (Any plants with few roots or with black roots should be discarded.)

Once you’ve brought your strawberry plants home, you’ll want to plant them as soon as possible. While you’re preparing the bed for planting, place the plants temporarily in a shallow trench in a shady spot and keep the roots moist (but not sopping wet). Do not allow the roots to dry out.

You can plant your strawberry plants in hills, or in rows (often called “matted” rows). Which you select depends upon your preference. Growing strawberries in hills seems to produce bigger berries, but fewer berries. Growing strawberries in rows is the most common method.

Row planting: place plants so that runners are spaced around the mother plant approximately 6″ apart. Keep the row width at no more than 18″. Any extra runners should be removed to prevent overcrowding (which reduce your crop yield). Space the rows 3 feet apart.

To plant: dig a hole deep enough so that the strawberry plant’s roots are not crowded, and can extend downward without bunching. Fill in with soil, and lightly firm the soil around the plant. ** Important: The crown of the plant should be even with ground level.

For optimal strawberry growing conditions: keep the strawberry bed free of weeds and do not allow the plants to fruit or flower the first year. Remove all of the blossoms on first year plants as they appear. This is very important. Most beginners ignore this advice, and end up with a less than successful strawberry patch for all their effort. The second year is really the harvest year for strawberries. If you allow the plant to produce fruit in the first year however, it will stunt the plant and you won’t have a good crop in the next year.

How to Grow Strawberries – Propagating Strawberries

You can grow strawberries by seeds, but the easiest way is by using the runners to form new strawberry plants. A “runner” is a stem that shoots out from the “mother” plant. Growing strawberry plants is easy then – a new plant will form where the runner touches the ground. You will want to use some care in selecting the “mother” plant. Select only those that are healthy and that have not been allowed to fruit in the same season as the intended  propagation.

Note: destroy any runners that don’t produce a flower truss in the first year.

Once you’ve selected the parent plants, keep an eye on the selected plants and remove any flowers that form. Do not allow flowers or fruiting on the parent plant. Keep the parent plant weeded, fertilized, and well watered.

In mid-summer you should start to see runners forming. Don’t allow more than 4 runners per parent plant. Cut any additional runners off the parent plant. For the remaining (attached) runners, leave them attached to the parent plant, but place the opposite end of the runner in a small (3″) pot of soil, placed in the ground. You may need to weight the runner vine down to keep it in place until the roots form on the new strawberry plant.

The runner vine will try to keep on “running” past the new plant you’re growing, but it is best to allow only one new plant per runner. Cut the runner extending past the new young strawberry plant, leaving about 3″ attached to the new plant. Keep the young strawberry plants growing well by keeping them watered, weeded, and giving them a monthly dose of liquid fertilizer.

Once the new plant is growing and rooting (in about 5 weeks), sever the young plant from the vine to the “mother” plant. You can now pick the pot from the garden soil, and transplant the new strawberry plant in it is new garden bed location. Keep the young plants watered, and give a monthly dose of liquid fertilizer.

Tip for Growing Strawberries: Remove all runners from the new plants in this first season, and remove all flowers as they form. This will give you a good crop of leaves on your first year plants. This is very important, because the buds that grow next year’s flowers (and strawberries) form at the base of the strawberry leaves. The more leaves you have the first year, the more strawberries you’ll grow in your second year.

Once the runners have been removed from the mother plant, you can allow the mother plant to flower and grow strawberries. Do not use the mother plant to propagate again though.

You’ll find that 3rd year plants don’t produce well. It’s better to remove them after the 2nd year, and keep a constant stock of fresh plants each year. If you do this, you will keep growing strawberries successfully year after year.

How to Grow Strawberries – Watering Requirements

To grow strawberries, the plants will need 1″ of rain per week. It’s best to use a drip or soaker hose for watering to minimize risk of plant diseases. Strawberry plants have very shallow root systems, so a dry spell will have a huge impact on your plants. With this in mind, it is very important that your strawberry plants get enough water. If not, you’re likely to grow a much smaller crop than you would’ve otherwise had.

Note: Keeping a light layer of mulch around the strawberry plants will also help keep the ground moist.

How to Grow Strawberries – Fertilizing Requirements

A good healthy mixture of composted/aged manure gives your strawberry patch the best start. As far as additional fertilizing needs, there’s quite a bit of discussion around what the best time to fertilize your strawberry crop is. Some say fall is better and that you’ll risk a smaller yield if you fertilize in the bearing season. Others say never to fertilize in the fall, as you can risk winter damage. Please check with your local extension office for their recommendation for fertilizing strawberries in your growing area.

How to Grow Strawberries – Gardening Challenges

Birds, verticillium wilt, red stele, leaf scorch, powdery mildew, spider mites, bud weevils/clippers, gray mold, slugs, snails

How to Grow Strawberries – Harvesting Your Crop

Do NOT grow strawberry flowers, fruit or runners on your strawberry plants in the first year. Be sure to remove all blossoms as they appear.

In the second year, pick only strawberries that are fully ripe. The berries are very perishable, so don’t pick more at one time than you can process effectively. Handle strawberries carefully and don’t stack the berries more than a couple of inches high. Strawberries are very easily bruised.

Try to pick your strawberries in the morning, or on an overcast day. Berries picked in the heat of the day don’t keep as well. Also, it is best to place your full baskets in the shade or in a cool location, until you’re ready to take them inside.

Also, as you harvest, be careful not to trample the surrounding strawberry plants.

Note: When harvesting your berries, if you see any injured berries, remove and destroy them. (Why waste your plant’s energy on bad berries? This way, they’ll redirect their growing efforts to the good fruit remaining. Also, if there’s a diseased fruit, you don’t want to risk it contaminating the rest of the strawberry crop.)

How to Grow Strawberries – Preparing for Winter:

After the harvest season is over, prepare the strawberry garden bed for next year by cutting off the foliage, weeding the bed, and fertilizing the bed.

After there have been a couple of hard frosts (but before temperatures drop to below 20 degrees (F)), cover the strawberry bed with 3″ of mulch. Straw and hay make wonderful mulch for strawberries. I’ve also heard of those who use leaves, sawdust or pine needles.

In the spring, you will need to remove most of the mulch, leaving just a thin layer to help keep the weeds at bay. Rake the leftover mulch into the empty spaces around the strawberry plants and in between rows for additional weed protection.

How to Grow Strawberries – Storage:

How to Freeze Strawberries:

How to Dehydrate Fruit – Strawberries

Strawberry Recipes


What to Plant in Your Fall Vegetable Garden

by P. Allen Smith – Garden Home

Read the original article here

It hardly seems logical to discuss Fall planting when Summer is just getting underway, but it’s the right time  to begin your plans for an autumn garden.

Ideally gardeners should start preparing for fall right around the summer solstice, if not before if you live in an area with a short growing season.  In most areas planting should take place from July through August to allow for plenty of time for seeds and plants to grow and mature before the first autumn freeze.

The average date of the first killing frost in your area is the most important thing to know when it comes to fall vegetable gardening.  Your local garden center is a good source of information for this date.  To determine when to start planting, find out the number of days to maturity for the vegetable. Next, count back the number of days from the first average frost date.  Some people add a week or so to allow for a few extra days to harvest the produce once it’s mature. You will find maturity information on seed packets and some plant labels.

Most everything you plant in spring you can grow in your fall garden, too.  These are cool season plants, meaning they will tolerate a light frost, thrive in short daylight hours and perform best with mild temperatures.  Some vegetables even taste better when nipped by a light frost.

10 Plants for Your Fall Vegetable Garden

Broccoli – Broccoli seedlings should be planted 10 weeks before the first frost date in your area. This means planting them during the last hot summer days so it’s important to mulch around them to help keep the ground cool and moist. Feed the plants 3 weeks after transplanting into the garden. Use a low nitrogen fertilizer. 70 days to maturity.
Brussels Sprouts – Brussels sprouts are ideal for fall gardens because they really taste best when allowed to mature in cool weather. In my mid-South garden, summer comes too quickly to grow them in the spring garden. Set the plants out in mid-summer. It will take about 3 months before the sprouts appear. They are ready for harvest when they are firm and green. 90 days to maturity.
Cabbage – Plant seedlings 6 to 8 weeks before the first frost. If the heat of summer is still intense when it’s time to plant in your area, give the young plants protection from sun. Cabbages are heavy feeders that require fertile soil rich in organic matter and consistent moisture. 70 days to maturity.
Cauliflower – Plant seedlings 6 to 8 weeks before the first frost. Cauliflower can be tricky to grow. Rich soil and consistent watering are the keys. Fluctuations in temperature, moisture and nutrients can cause the plant to “button” or produce small, undersized heads. Blanch the heads by tying the outer leaves together over the heads when they are about 2 to 3 inches across. This keeps them from turning green and becoming bitter. 60 days to maturity.
Kohlrabi – Kohlrabi is a member of cabbage family, but it looks and tastes similar to a turnip. The bulbous edible portion grows just above the soil line. Shade young plants from summer sun. 40 to 60 days to maturity depending on variety.
Lettuce – Sow seeds in late summer. Provide the seedlings with consistent moisture and shade from the afternoon sun. 45 to 60 days to harvest depending on type and variety.
Mustard Greens – Sow seeds 6 weeks before the first frost. Seeds will germinate in soil that is 45 to 85 degrees F. Keep the soil consistently moist to encourage rapid growth and tender greens. 45 days to maturity.
Radish – Sow seeds for radishes 4 weeks before the first frost. Winter varieties such as China Rose, mature slower, grow larger and store longer. They should be sown about 6 weeks before the first frost. Sow the seeds evenly so you don’t have to thin them. No feeding necessary, but soil should be fertile and well drained. They are quick to mature so check them regularly. They are ready to harvest as soon as they are of edible size. 25 to 50 days to maturity depending on variety.
Rutabaga – Sow seeds 12 weeks before the first frost. In regions where summer is long and hot, wait to sow seeds until night time temperatures are consistently around 50 to 60 degrees F. Rutabagas are a cross between cabbage and turnip. Although they are suitable for early spring gardens, they seem to have the best flavor when grown in fall. Keep the soil consistently moist to prevent roots from forking. 90 days to maturity.
Spinach – Sow seeds 5 weeks before first frost date. The short days and cool, moist weather of fall is even better for spinach than spring. An established spinach crop will last well into winter and can survive temperatures down into the 20s. Spinach prefers very fertile soil to encourage rapid growth and tender leaves. 45 days to maturity
Here’s a few more winter vegetables to add to your garden beds:

Kale because it’s nutritious, delicious, and one of the hardiest plants in the garden. Add to that the large number of varieties and the ornamental qualities of this plant and you can’t go wrong with growing kale in the fall vegetable garden.

Collards make the list right up there with the kales. Just as cold hardy, collards also flourish during the high temperatures of summer. It’s a cinch to nurture collards, especially the variegated variety, right through the winter.

Leeks tolerate repeated freezing and thawing and your biggest challenge will be getting them out of the garden after the ground has frozen. They require a very long growing season, so plant in early spring for fall harvests.

Mache isn’t well known or appreciated by many gardeners, but can provide you with tasty, lettuce-like greens well into the fall.

Parsnips are included on the list because cold temps really bring out their best flavor and sweetness. Planted in early spring they will grow through summer, survive the winter unprotected and can be harvested right through the following spring.

Garlic isn’t a winter vegetable in the sense that you can harvest it during the fall season like all the others. I’m including it here because it’s one of my favorite plants, and in many areas you’ll get the best results growing garlic from a fall planting.


Cold Climate Herbs

Chives, sour cream and a baked potato, nothing could be a better addition to a lovely meal. Chives return each year like clockwork and offer not only their delectable stems to the gardener but also their flavorful flower. The flower is a beautiful addition to spice up any salad. When winter arrives, your chives seem to die but the roots continue to grow. Next spring you’ll see the chives emerge again. There’s nothing difficult about growing chives. Simply plant the seed in well turned soil, keep the ground moist and you’ll soon see the shoots appear.

Plant your chives closer to the center of your garden. If you’re growing chives herbs near the edge of the garden close to grass, this causes a bit of confusion. The grass and chives mix and until they’re taller, its’ tough to tell them apart. Once the chives start to grow, they multiply. To give some as a gift or create another area of chives, just dig up a clump and put them in their new home.

Cilantro and coriander are two herbs in one. The seed is the coriander and the ferny leaves are cilantro. These are also very easy to grow annually. They don’t require a long growing season. You can use the leaves as they grow for cilantro but when you’re ready to harvest the coriander, tie the stalks together and put a paper sack over the top. Tie the sack to the plants. Hang these upside down to dry and the seeds fall into the sack.

Fennel – If ever there was an under appreciated plant, its fennel. The leaves are good for diets and its not wonder. They’re tiny ferny little things that couldn’t add many calories to anyone’s diet. The plant, however, is beautiful in the spring. The soft leaves remind you of a furry pet in your garden. You’ll almost want to pet it. The leaves have a licorice scent, as does the bulb of the fennel plant. You use both. Don’t worry weather it lives through the winter. It doesn’t but it scatters enough seed for even more plants the next year.

Oregano – Most people don’t realize that oregano makes it through the winter in colder climates and comes back the following spring. This plant is a lot hardier than it’s given credit. Once the oregano is established, it tends to wander other place you might not want it. You’ll find that it likes sunny areas but also grows well in partial shade.

Mints – If you grow any of the many mints, there are two rules. Rule one: Keep the mints in containers. Rule two: Keep the mints away from each other if they’re different flavors. Rule one prevents your mint from becoming a weed that invades everything around. Rule two prevents the mints from cross-pollinating and creating a new flavor, often not as good as the first two. This is particularly bad if chocolate mint crosses with an orange mint. You then have not an orange chocolate flavor but a plant you want to eliminate.

Lemon balm is a member of the mint family and has it’s bags ready to travel to other areas of your garden. This hardy little plant is delightful with cooked pork and as a garnish. You’ll find yourself going to the garden to squeeze a leaf and release the lemony pledge smell from the plant.

The Resilient Gardener, Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times

By Carol Deppe

The Resilient Gardener – click here to view or purchase on Amazon

Scientist/gardener Caarol Deppe combines her passion for gardening with newly emerging scientific information from many fields – resilience science, climatology, ecology, anthopology, sustianable agriculture, nutrition, and health science.  In this book Deppe extends these principles with detailed information about growing and using five keystone crops that are especially important for anyone seeking greater self-reliance: potatoes, corn, beans, squash and eggs.  In this book you’ll learn how to: garden in a time of climate change and unpredictable weather; grow, use, and store more of your staple crops; save your own seeds and seed potatoes; and keep a flock of ducks and chickens whilst integrating them into your gardening activities, and growing most of their feed.

The Resilient Gardener is both a conceptual and hands-on gardening book.  “Resilience” here is broadly conceived, and encompasses a full range of challenges, from the personal, financial, health, dietary – to serious regional disasters and global climate change.  However this is a supremely optimistic and realistic book about how resilient gardeners (and their gardens) can flourish even in challenging times and help their communities to survive through everything that comes their way – tomorrow or in the next thousand years.

The Resilient Gardener is so essential, timely and important, and I will recommend it to everyone I know. It doesn’t matter if you garden or if you don’t-this is practical wisdom good for humans to know, passed on by a careful student who has deeply studied her life. Carol Deppe’s lens is the garden-which is great for gardeners, but really, she speaks clearly to all of us. If you try to think like Deppe, you will find you have a new view of your life no matter who you are. This is a wise and intelligent book. Hats off to Carol Deppe!–Deborah Madison, Author of Local Flavors and Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

In the years since Carol Deppe wrote the classic Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties, she has continued to grow in deep wisdom and experience. The Resilient Gardener is brilliantly timely, and shows us how to create gardens that can survive our increasingly erratic weather, while supplying key nutrition lacking in most vegetable gardens. This book fills a critical niche, and I recommend it unreservedly.–Toby Hemenway, author of Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture

The Resilient Gardener is the most comprehensive and detailed book about gardening that I have read to date, and I could not find one sentence that I would quibble with. Not only does Deppe discuss all the immediate, nose- to- the- grindstone kind of information about producing and using homegrown food, but also all the surrounding environmental and cultural aspects of gardening that are so vital to success. A must read for beginning gardeners, and full of details even the most experienced will find invaluable.–Gene Logsdon, author of Small-Scale Grain Raising and Holy Shit: Managing Manure to Save Mankind

The Resilient Gardener gives concrete examples of how to deal with diet, climate, and economic changes before the need arises. Deppe challenges us to experiment with and practice all aspects of gardening, seed saving and food storage, and advises on the growing need to meet special food and climate requirements in the face of our food system’s fragility. This book is an invaluable tool for gardeners and farmers as we experience more and more volatility in our food systems.”–Suzanne Ashworth, author of Seed to Seed

Carol Deppe is informative, funny, and intriguing as she guides us through every phase of gardening–dispelling myths while also orienting us to the technical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of growing food. The Resilient Gardener is the quintessential guide to gardening from an authority who also knows how to enjoy herself.–Didi Emmons, author of Vegetarian Planet

Carol Deppe’s celiac-friendly approach to gardening and nutrition provides a wealth of information on how to overcome food intolerances many are confronted with each day. If you struggle with food allergies or sensitivities–or want to use natural resources to create a healthy world for you and your family–this book is for you.–Peter H.R. Green, MD, Director, Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University

“Growing food is among the most positive changes anyone can make in the face of uncertainty about the future. The Resilient Gardener is an information-packed resource for people starting or expanding a garden practice. This book empowers readers with skills and understanding, as did Deppe’s previous book, Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties.”–Sandor Ellix Katz, author, Wild Fermentation and The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved


Product Description

CREATIVE, PRODUCTIVE GARDENING FOR GOOD TIMES AND BAD.In an age of erratic weather and instability, people’s interest in growing their own food is skyrocketing. The Resilient Gardener presents gardening techniques that stand up to challenges ranging from health problems, financial problems, and special dietary needs to serious disasters and climate change. Scientist and expert gardener Carol Deppe draws from emerging science in many fields to develop the general principles of gardening for resilience. Gardeners will learn through Deppe’s detailed instructions on growing, storing, and using the five crops central to self-reliance: potatoes, corn, beans, squash, and eggs.
Learn how to:
  • Grow food in an era of wild weather and climate change
  • Garden with little to no irrigation or “store-bought” inputs
  • Garden efficiently and comfortably (even with a bad back)
  • Customize your garden to deal with special dietary needs or a need for weight control
  • Make breads and cakes from home-grown corn using original gluten-free recipes (with no other grains, artificial binders, or dairy products)
  • Keep a laying flock of ducks or chickens, integrate them with your gardening, and grow most of their feed

And more . . .The Resilient Gardeneris both a conceptual and a hands-on gardening book for all levels of experience. Optimistic as well as realistic, Deppe offers invaluable advice for gardeners (and their communities) to flourish.

Entrepreneur seeks to build community bonds one plot at a time

Through her Farm Girl Food Gardens landscaping business, Mary Phillips builds raised garden beds and plants whichever crops her clients want. She looks at her venture as a calling, to help people connect through healthful food.

Mary Phillips sees food as a universal language.

“I really believe that food translates in ways that other things don’t,” said Phillips, 24. “Especially food that grows in your garden.”

'Being outside in the sunshine is good for a person. Getting your hands in the dirt is healthy,' says Mary Phillips, who installs and stocks food gardens for Memphis-area residents.Photo by Mike Maple
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“Being outside in the sunshine is good for a person. Getting your hands in the dirt is healthy,” says Mary Phillips, who installs and stocks food gardens for Memphis-area residents.

Recently, the young horticulturist found a way to incorporate her belief into a business plan.

Phillips installs raised garden beds in residential yards as part of her edible landscaping business, Farm Girl Food Gardens.

Since April, she has helped green up the thumbs of seven Memphis households.

“It’s about keeping people healthy and promoting personal wellness,” she said. “Being outside in the sunshine is good for a person. Getting your hands in the dirt is healthy.”

The job begins with a visit to the client’s yard to assess the property, estimate the size of the beds and discuss what plants the client is interested in.

She builds the containers out of wood and transports them to the client’s house in her truck.

Then she fills the beds with compost, and plants and waters the tomatoes, squash, peppers, herbs or whatever else is requested.

“Everybody wants tomatoes, of course,” she said. “Herbs are really popular, and I think they’re fantastic. They’re low-maintenance, and you reap the benefits year after year.”

She hesitates a bit when she gets a request for watermelons and cantaloupes.

“They’re tough in a raised garden because they spread,” she said. “It’s good to plant things that are easily preserved and things that can be pickled and canned.”

Besides building the beds for a fee, Phillips offers consultation services, including when to expect a harvest, how much watering is necessary, what kind of mulch to use, and the seasonality of different crops.

“Mostly it’s, ‘When can I plant,’ and ‘When can I eat it,'” said the native Memphian.

Midtowner Pamela Mashburn, 61, enlisted Phillips’ services in the hopes of reuniting with her love of gardening.

“I had not had a garden in a while, and I thought it would be a wonderful way to try out gardening again,” Mashburn said. “My husband and I are kind of empty-nesters, and it’s a fun way to have fresh vegetables. If they actually make it.”

Mashburn settled on four tomato plants, two squash, two cucumber, one okra and two types of basil.

“She came and filled the beds with wonderfully rich dirt and some well-started, healthy plants. All I have to do is keep them watered and maybe weed a little bit,” Mashburn said. “It’s a way to be a part of the grow-your-own-garden movement, and we can just catch on the shirttails of Mary. She’s quite a farmer.”

Phillips first got bitten by the gardening bug while interning at a Kansas farm during high school, but it was her college experience that would cement her love of the land.

“(At Warren Wilson College in North Carolina) we had a sustainable agriculture program, where we had a fully functional farm. My roommate was on the farm crew, so I would go out there Saturday mornings and milk the cows,” Phillips said.

Phillips acted as the manager of the Binghamton Development Corp.’s Urban Farms before leaving to help head up the Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market (she is marketing manager through the summer), and she was recently hired to teach farming at the Hutchison School.

“Obviously, she’s someone who has found her passion and is excited about local food systems and encouraging people to grow their own food,” said Josephine Alexander, coordinator of GrowMemphis. “She’s so passionate about sharing with other people and helping them get set up to grow their own food and experience the joy she experiences.”

Phillips views her new venture as more of a calling than a business.

“I am called by the mission of food access and creating community through food,” she said. “I want to get food gardens out there, to get people to grow their own food and for folks to meet their neighbors. For me it’s an act of community development.”

She has seen it in action.

When Phillips moved into the Binghamton neighborhood, she noticed her neighbors weren’t as friendly as she would have liked.

“I would try to chat with my neighbors on the block, and they would tell me they don’t speak English. They would never have a conversation with me,” she said.

Approaching them with homegrown watermelon in hand, she met with a different reaction.

“She said, ‘Oh, thank you, thank you so much,’ and she spoke perfect English,” Phillips said of one neighbor. “It completely broke down the barrier.”

“It’s these little interactions that seem like trivial daily decisions. They’re a lot more. They end up making good communities,” she said. “Food is a language that transcends all barriers — class, gender, race and age. Everybody can talk food. If I can feed good, nutritious food to people and establish bonds between neighbors, I will feel I’ve been a success.”

Free Food in Your Yard: Edible Weeds

Edible Weeds

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By , Guide

Got weeds? Then, you’ve got dinner. Take a closer look at the weeds growing in your yard, and you’ll find that many of them are edible, delicious and nutritious. Here are 12 edible weeds to locate and try:



Edible Parts: Fruit, leaves and roots

When to Harvest: Late summer

Uses: Eat fruit fresh or use in jams, syrups and baked goods. Use leaves or root bark to make tea.



Photo © Flickr user isamiga76

Edible Parts: Roots and stalks

When to Harvest: Spring through fall

Uses: Use young stalks in place of artichoke hearts. Use cooked roots in soups and casseroles.



Photo © Flickr user Paul_L_Nettles

Edible Parts: Shoots, flower heads and pollen

When to Harvest: Late spring

Uses: Eat peeled shoots raw and in salads; add them to stir-fry; or enjoy them cooked. Boil young female flowerheads, and eat them like corn. Use pollen in place of flour.



Photo © Flickr user dmott9

Edible Parts: Flowers, leaves and roots

When to Harvest: Spring through fall, but leaves and blossoms are best when harvested young

Uses: Use in the same manner that you would use dandelions.



Photo © Flickr user bdesham

Edible Parts: Flowers, leaves and roots

When to Harvest: Spring through fall, but leaves and blossoms are best when harvested young

Uses: Add leaves and flowers raw to salads. Sautee the leaves; make dandelion wine or jelly out of the blossoms; or use the roots to make a coffee substititute.


Japanese Knotweed

Japanese Knotweed
Photo © Flickr user foodistablog

Edible Part: Young shoots

When to Harvest: Early spring before the plant gets woody.

Uses: Use shoots in place of rhubarb. Steam it. Add it to soups; use it to make jam; or try it in baked desserts.


Lamb’s Quarters

Edible Parts: Leaves and stems

When to Harvest: Mid-spring to late fall

Uses: Add raw to salads. Sautee and serve as a vegetable. Use in place of spinach.



Photo © Flickr user brewbooks

Edible Parts: Leaves and seeds

When to Harvest: Spring through fall

Uses: Add young leaves to salads. Sautee older leaves. Eat seeds raw or roasted.



Photo © Flickr user pellaea

Edible Parts: Leaves, stem, flowers and seeds

When to Harvest: Summer

Uses: Add raw to salads; toss in soups; boil it; or sautee it.


More About Purslane

Red Clover

Red Clover
Photo © Flickr user John_Poulakis

Edible Parts: flowers

When to Harvest: Late spring through summer

Uses: Add raw to salads. Steep for tea. Toss in soups.


Stinging Nettle

Stinging Nettle
Photo © Flickr user pawpaw67

Edible Parts: Young stems and leaves (after boiling)

When to Harvest: Spring

Uses: Leaves must be boiled to destroy stinging hairs. Use in soups, pasta dishes or other cooked dishes. Steep for tea.


More About Stinging Nettles

Wild Violet

Wild Violets
Photo © Flickr user Retromoderns

Edible Parts: Flowers and leaves

When to Harvest: Spring

Uses: Add to salads. Use atop baked goods as decoration.


Weed Harvesting Guidelines

1. Only harvest weeds that you can positively identify and know to be edible. The Complete Guide to Edible Wild Plants, by the Department of the Army is a good reference, if you aren’t sure.

2. Avoid picking weeds close to roadways. They’ll have absorbed exhaust fumes and road run off.

3. Avoid harvesting weeds in areas that may have been contaminated by animal feces.

4. Do not pick weeds from yards that have been treated with pesticides or herbicides.

5. Only eat the parts of plants that you know to be edible. Many edible plants have non-edible – and sometimes poisonous – parts.

Kim’s Garden Soil Recipe

I am often asked about the soil in my raised beds.  What do I use? How much? Where do I buy it?

The last two years I’ve attempted to garden directly in Germantown’s hard, unforgiving clay.  Even after adding lots of compost I still had low yields.

This is the first year that I’ve used raised beds, so I did some experimenting.  The nursery blend didn’t appeal to me because it lacked the high levels of compost and manure that I was looking for.  I decided to blend my own based on what I was learning from Patty Moreno, the Garden Girl, and the Square Foot Garden technique.  I couldn’t afford to follow their exact recipe so I improvised within my budget.  I’m not sure how many bags of soil I purchased from Lowe’s and local nurseries but it was a lot!  I tried to use 3 equal parts Pete moss/garden soil, compost/manure and top soil (instead of top soil, the square foot garden experts recommend vermiculite). In some beds I was able to use a higher percentage of compost/manure than the other ingredients.  It’s more expensive if you have to buy it but the results are excellent.

My garden soil ingredients: Top soil, Black cow composted manure, organic garden soil, Pete moss, Nature’s Own garden blend, cotton burr compost, worm castings, a few have chicken manure and most have some rabbit manure. All of my beds had a layer of fall leaves at the bottom that I raked in last winter.  One had homemade compost from my backyard composter.

This year I plan to do more aggressive composting so that next spring I can rely on my own animal manures and compost to enrich my soil.  Buying all of this can be expensive so my goal is to build a self sufficient and sustainable system in my backyard.

I’m still experimenting with plant food.  I love the tomato tone and garden tone the best.  The liquid seaweed is still in the experimental stage.  I use the tomato blossom spray only when the blossoms are falling off or are slow to set and grow tomatoes. When my rabbit manure catcher is full I empty it right into whichever bed looks hungriest. I also use my worm castings around a plant’s roots whenever the leaves start to yellow.

One very important ingredient that I always add to my beds after they’ve been planted and everything has grown to at least an inch, is mulch.  I use hardwood mulch around every plant to inhibit weed germination and growth, to hold in soil moisture, protect my plants from drying out quickly, moderate soil-temperature fluctuations, and add nutrition to the soil. There are many different types of mulch to choose from including straw, hay, grass clippings, leaves, wood chips and Pete moss.

Kim’ Composting System

A few weeks ago I cleaned out my old composting box which I built with hardware cloth and wood two years ago.  The leaves and grass broke down into beautiful compost but the branches, roots and twigs were still solid.  I decided to redesign my structure into two simple forms and use only grass clippings, leaves and kitchen scraps  (no meat or diary products) in these.  Instead of building the big boxes that I wanted, I decided to go with simple and cheap (in this case free) since my resilience money has run dry. I used my old 5′ tall hardware cloth.  I secured the sides with twisties.  I may pull a couple of black garbage bags over these to heat up the compost and speed up the whole process once they fill up.

Simple and cheap composting design
Secure with twisties

I also use a large trash can that I drilled holes in for composting but I have to be careful to keep the green a brown matter equal.  Too many fruits and veggies without the addition of leaves, dirt or paper products result in maggots.

Occasionally I help out the city garbage collectors by picking up the neighbor’s leaves all bagged up on the curb.  In the late fall there was plenty to fill up my entire composter and cover my dormant garden beds.

My worm composter works well but slow.  It takes a while for the worms to break down our scraps.  The best thing about this composter is the compost tea that comes out the spigot every time it rains. I’m hoping the bottom tray will be full of castings by the end of summer.

Worm composter from Can-O-Worms
Worm castings inside my can-o-worms

The chickens are the best composters of all.  They eat EVERYTHING and turn it into gold (eggs and manure).   We don’t have eggs yet but it won’t be long now.

My best composters