Companion Planting Tips


Check out my new post at The Detroit News, The Good Life blog… enjoy friends

A Companionate Herbal for the Organic Garden, Herbal Therapeutic Concoctions & Yummy Herb Butters Recipe’s!

Summer is here and we are in full swing! I am finding it harder and harder to get to this blog with all the responsibilities I have around on the farm.  I am constantly thinking of things to write about and share, but finding the ‘thyme’, or should I say making the ‘thyme’ is just taking more effort than I would actually like.  But here I am and of course I love being here.  Lets talk more on herbs shall we? I just can’t seem to get enough of herbs, they are so versatile and useful in so many areas in life… the kitchen, bouquet and right into the personal care line! I love to go out to the gardens and pick them… as I brush against their leaves they just welcome me there with their lovely aroma’s telling me to pick & enjoy!  I have often touched on companion planting and I recently came across a great list that I thought I would like to share with all of you. Today I am going to focus a bit on the personal care end with of course a few yummy recipes for Herb Butters! Thanks for coming… see you again soon!

A Companionate Herbal for the Organic Garden~  This list was adapted from The Rodale Herb Book; How to Use, Grow, and Buy Nature’s Miracle Plants; published by Rodale Press, Inc. 1974, pg.s 268-269.

HERB:                          COMPANIONS AND EFFECTS:
Basil                             *Companion to tomatoes; Improves growth and flavor; repels flies and mosquitoes.
Bee Balm                       *Companion to tomatoes; improves growth and flavor
Borage                           *Companion to tomatoes, squash and strawberries; deters tomato worm; improves flavor &
Caraway                         *Plant here and there; loosens soil.
Camomile                       *Companion to radishes; improves growth & flavor.
Chervil                           *Companion to cabbages & onions; improves growth & flavor.
Chives                            *Companion to carrots; improves growth & flavor.
Dill                                *Companion to cabbage, improves growth & flavor; dislikes carrots  
Fennel                            *Plant away from gardens.  Most plants dislike it.
Garlic                             *Plant near roses and raspberries, improves growth & health; deters Japanese beetle
Horseradish                     *Plant at corners of potato patch to deter potato bug.
Hyssop                            *Deters cabbage moth; companion to cabbage & grapes; Keep away from radishes.
Lovage                            *Improves flavor and health of plants if planted here and there.
Marigold                         *The workhorse of the pest deterrents.  Plant throughout the garden: discourages                                             Mexican bean beetles, nematodes, and other insects.      
Mint                               *companion to cabbage & tomatoes; improves health & flavor; deters white cabbage moth.
Marjoram                        *Here and there in gard3en; improves flavors.
Nasturtium                     *Companion to radishes, cabbage & curcurbits; plant under fruit trees.  Deters aphids,
                                       squash bugs, striped pumpkin beetles.  Improves growth and flavor.    
Pot Marigold                   *companion to tomatoes, but plant elsewhere in garden too.  Deters asparagus beetle,
                                        tomato worm and general garden pests.       
Peppermint                      *Planted among cabbages, it repels the white cabbage butterfly.
Rosemary                       *Companion to cabbage, bean, carrots & sage; deters cabbage moth, bean beetles & carrot fly
Rue                                *Keep it far away from sweet basil; plant near roses and raspberries; deters Japanese beetle.
Sage                              *Plant with rosemary, cabbage & carrots; keep away from cucumbers; deters cabbage moth
                                       & carrot fly.
Summer Savory              *Plant with beans and onions; improves growth and flavor; deters bean beetles.
Tansy                             *Plant under fruit trees; companion to roses & raspberries; deters flying insects,
                                        Japanese beetle, striped cucumber beetles, squash bugs and ants.       
Tarragon                         *Good throughout the garden.
Thyme                            *Here and there in garden. It deters cabbage worm.

Of course as usual this is only a small amount of information in a world of endless info!  These are the most commonly used herbs in the kitchen, but doesn’t even touch on medicinal ones.                 

 Aromatic herbal baths are one of the most pleasurable ways to cleanse your skin and revitalize your whole body after a hard day at work.  You can add particular herbs to promote relaxation or stimulation.  Therapeutic preparations can be made at home from essential oils and herbal infusions quite easily.  In an earlier blog I gave you the how-to’s on Oils and Vinegars for cooking, here are some personal care recipes!  Enjoy!

Antiseptic Wash~ Among oils with antiseptic action are thyme, lavender, tea tree, and eucalyptus.  Add 8 drips of one of these to a small bowl of water and apply to minor wounds.

Foot Bath~ You will need: Fresh leaves of bay, eucalyptus, lavender, lemon balm, thyme, marjoram, spearmint.
*Sprinkle 1-2 handfuls of herbs into a large bowl.
*Add 2 tsp. of salt and enough hot water to cover the feet and ankles.
*Soak feet for at least 10- 12 minutes while breathing in the delicious aroma’s!

Hand Cream~ You will need: 1 cup rose water, 1/4 cup glycerin, 1/4 cup cornstarch and 3 drops chamomile oil.
*Blend rosewater, cornstarch and glycerin.
*Heat gently in a double boiler to thicken, then cool for about 15- 20 minutes.
*Stir in oil.
*Store in screw top jar for up to 3 months.  

Lavender Spritz~ For a classic skin freshener, fill an spritzer bottle with distilled water and add a couple drops of lavender essential oil.  Shake to blend and before each use.

Lip Balm~ You will need: Oil of eucalyptus, lemon, thyme, jasmine, lavender, geranium, juniper, OR  peppermint.
*Add 2 drops of one of the oil’s listed above to 1 tbsp. of warmed cocoa butter.  Put in a small jar and let it cool. 

Stretch Marks Massage Oil~ You will need:  5 drops of EACH~ lavender oil and neroli oil, 6 drops frankincense and 1/4 cup almond oil.
*Add oils to a small stoppered jar and shake to blend.  Massage gently into the skin to firm it up and to combat stretch marks.

Rosewater Toner~ You will need: 2/3 cup rosewater, 2/3 cup witch hazel and 6 drop glycerin.
*Pour all the ingredients into a bottle and shake will before each use.


Herb butters add a lovely finishing touch to cooked veggies, fist or chicken and are so easy to make!  All you need to do is beat your favorite fresh or dried herb9s0 into some softened butter, cover with some plastic wrap and chill until you’re ready to serve it up!
Here are some yummy Herb Butter Recipes to try this year!

Lemon & Fennel Butter ~ the flavor of fennel goes very well with fish or grilled corn on the cob!
1 Stick salted butter, softened
2 tbsp. chopped fennel fronds
zest of half lemon, grated
1/8 tsp. pepper
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl until thoroughly blended; pat into a roll about the size of a tangerine, cover with plastic wrap and chill.  When ready to serve, cut into chunks~ very cute!

Cilantro & Scallion Butter
~ Use this on some new potatoes and enjoy the sweet savor of scallions blended with the pungency of cilantro!
1 Stick salted butter, softened
2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro or 1 1/2 tsp. dried
1 scallion (green onion) finely chopped.
Follow prep method above.

Chive Pepper Butter ~ So yummy on grilled chicken or roasted cod fillets!
1 stick salted butter, softened
2 tbsp. chopped fresh chives or 1 1/2 tsp. dried
1 tbsp. mixed peppercorns, lighted crushed
Follow prep method above.

Happy Day,

Herbs: Planting, Tips & Varieties and a few Herb Recipe’s!

Some of the herbs in our Kitchen Garden.  As you can see I use lots of ‘containers’… An old drawer holds my oregano, several pots partly burriered have basil, old wooden tool box houses parsley and others planted around.

The end of the month… we are already through one third of this year… I certainly cannot believe how fast time keeps moving on.  Our farms winter market is over ~ 21 weeks have flown by and now the regular season farmers market which will consume the next 29 weeks our lives begins… Gardening and farming will soon take up much of each day.  I love this time of year and the feeling of exhilaration that comes along with it.  In the next few entries here at Dragonflies, I will be focusing on Herbs. We will be able to start putting out all those goodies in the gardens, decorating our porches and patios and adorning our flower beds with boundless blossoms… my favorite time of year!

Now to touch on Herbs, one of my favorite subjects in the world of gardening.  I have mentioned in earlier entries about our Kitchen Garden and the herb part of it, here is a photo of one end of it in mid-spring when basil’s and the more tender annual herbs have been put in. As you can see I use many types of containers to hold the herbs including an old wooden drawer for oregano, party buried pots for basil’s, an old wooden tool box for parsley.  There is thyme, lemon grass along with several other herbs planted directly in the ground around the containers.
I am going to break this up into four sections over the next couple entries;  Planting, Varieties, Tips and of course
Cooking with.

You may be wondering where do I put herbs? I don’t have an herb garden or I don’t even know how to cook with herbs. Well as you will come to learn herbs are a gardener’s best friend… they are both easy to grow and use. Once you get started you’ll wonder how you ever did without them.  So first lets break down this section into a couple groups as well: Where to Plant and What to Plant!

*Where to Plant:
  Well, here again you have several choices which include right in with your regular veggie garden if you have one; you can create an Herb Garden separately, in your kitchen garden; or you can incorporate them in with your flower beds.  I have all of the above and so can you!  As you will find out, herbs are great friends with both veggies & flowers, they are not just yummy they are natural enemies & deterrents to several bad bugs that want to eat your good stuff!
~In my Flower Beds I incorporate a hedge of purple basil; we use them for both culinary uses as well as in bouquets- we let some of them bloom out for this reason… absolutely stunning in bouquets!  I also use thyme off set with creeping phlox along the rock border of several of my flower beds; they can be snipped through the season for kitchen use and then a few left to bloom after the phlox has finished it’s show.
~If you want to have a separate section for herbs in your Garden rather than intermingling, then I would recommend using Raised Beds at one end to put them in.  Also, I would focus on one bed for your perennial herbs such as oregano, chives, sage, tarragon and thyme; another for your true annuals such as basil, savory, marjoram and lemon grass; and yet another if you can for your biennials such as parsley and fennel.  If you have rosemary, be sure to pot up and bring in the house; although it is a hardy annual, if you live in Zones 5 or lower it will not survive our freezing temperatures.
~In our Gardens and Fields I use herbs right along side of many of the veggies we grow.  As an Organic produce farm I believe in and practice completely companion planting.  Here are a few everyday ones for you to use:
  ~dill with carrots or cabbage- the dill confuses carrot rust flies, which lay their eggs on carrot roots and may deter cabbage pests as well.
  ~Basil with tomatoes will keep tomato horn worms at bay- not to mention it is believed that they encourage one another  to grow!
  ~Chives with roses to discourage insects and diseases- any allium member for that matter.
  ~Most any type of mint planted near cabbage or tomatoes to ward off the white cabbage moths, aphids and flea beetles.
  ~Oregano enhances the flavor of beans in the garden and repels insects that bother broccoli.
  ~Sage enhances rosemary, deters cabbage moths, carrot flies, flea beetles, and slugs.
  ~Plant thyme next to tomatoes where its flowers will attract bees for pollination.
Go to the previous blog post to see many ideas of companion planting with herbs.
We also have a Kitchen Garden which has yet another separate herb section. This is used primarily for our everyday cooking.  With us growing produce for farmers market and our CSA we need to have a little something that’s just for us and where we don’t have to walk out to the field or hoop house. 

What To Plant:  You may be a bit of a challenge simply because there are so many varieties of each type of herb.
There are several basic culinary herbs that I will recommend and some tips on each, along with a couple that your pets will appreciate as well.  I am not planning on going into the world of medicinal herbs simply because I am not knowledgeable enough to feel comfortable telling people how to use them.  I am completely for the use of them and I would highly recommend educating your self in this area.  I will say though that we eat a lot of raw garlic in flu season!
*Basil will never treat you wrong! In my opinion the number one most important herb- although I have a biased opinion because I love Italian cooking… so maybe my opinion doesn’t mean diddly right here!
There are many types of basil’s and you may seem overwhelmed when you go to purchase your plants.  The tried and true is Genovese for the truest Italian cooking.  I once purchased a variety called Italian Pesto, it is comparable to Lettuce Leaf which is so named because of the very large leaves. Greek Dwarf is a tiny leafed perfectly mounded basil, used in many Italian dishes- the leaves make it a challenge.  If you like to cook with fish and/or chicken then try lemon and lime varieties; if you are into Thai cooking get a Thai Basil- yes that is what is called- it is anise flavored; Cinnamon basil is also available.  If you want both culinary and for bouquets arrangements try Purple Ruffles or Red Rubin, both stunning when in bloom and the leaves are very similar to a Sweet basil. 
*Parsley is my tied for second staple herb.  I use this in many potato dishes, chicken soup and of course pasta sauces.
*Thyme, oh how I love thyme… Any time we are grilling there is a bowl of Olive Oil with fresh thyme leaves soaking and infusing the oil to be brushed onto summer squash, eggplant, chicken and fish and of course pizza crust just before the sauce goes on… yummy!
*Oregano is a must have if you are creating pasta sauces and salsa too!
*Sage is an herb that we use in our Artisan Sausages that Neil creates- main staple to our famous Breakfast Sausage.
*Fennel is also all about our sausage, except this goes into our wonderfully yummy Italian sausages… not overly fennel flavored, just the right blend.  This is also for those fish lovers, fennel and butter brushed onto fish just before grilling.
*Rosemary is not one of my favorites, but many people use it on fish & chicken and in potato dishes as well.
*Marjoram is what I will use in exchange for thyme occasionally if I feel like a little something different.
*Tarragon, again great in Olive Oil for grilling fish & chicken.  Also yummy on beef roasts.
*Chives of course are another staple to the kitchen garden cook… baked potatoes smothered in sour cream and topped with fresh snipped chives, tossed into a salad or thrown in with radishes (see the last blog for a yummy Chive & Radish Dip).
*Cilantro is another must have for us fresh salsa lovers.  Good in any Mexican dish.
*Dill, certainly not least, but this one is reserved most often for canning those yummy pickles.
Again, this is just the basics to help you get started, so have fun and be adventurous, you can always find a recipe!

Here are some yummy herb recipe’s to get you started in the kitchen! Have fun…
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Fresh Chive Topper 
Use on baked potato, scramble eggs or anything else you like sour cream on!
Blend all Ingredients:Blend all ingredients:
8 oz container sour cream1 c or 8oz container  Sour Cream
1/4 cup shredded cheddar or Colby cheese
2 Tbsp. melted butter
2 Tbsp. fresh chopped chives

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Fresh Basil Dressing 
1/2 cup wine vinegar
 1 1/2 tsp. sugar
 1 cup olive oil 
6 Tbsp. fresh basil leaves, minced
 salt & pepper to taste. 
Combine all and serve over fresh garden salad.

Thyme Grilled Vegetable

16 baby potato– about 1 quart
1/2 c chicken broth
1/4 c Olive Oil
2 tbsp fresh Thyme, minced
1/2 tsp salt
3 large peppers, sliced– use different colors to make it pretty!
2 c sliced onions

In an un-greased 9×13 inch baking casserole, combine the potatoes, broth, oil, thyme & salt.  Grill, covered over medium heat for about 25 minutes.
Stir in peppers & onions.  Grill 25-30 minutes longer or until vegetables are tender.

Happy Day,

Children’s Gardens & more themes, Butterfly Kisses & a super Yummy Apple ‘Breakfast’ Pie!

Each Spring my children get pretty enthusiastic about planting ‘their’ own garden plots.  Ryan, my soon to be 10year old is always right there ready to get going.  Last year he gathered several old bricks he discovered and made small ‘raised’ beds.  He dug around to loosen the dirt and proceeded to plant his tomato plants along side basil, nasturtiums & marigolds.  He has learned the art of Companion Planting like a true gardener!  Taylor & Kyle are usually in competition as to who’s garden shall yield the greatest bounty and there-by collect the most funds from dad ‘n’ mom! The problem most often is that the thrill doesn’t always last through till the harvest~ before the harvest is weeding & tending~ not such glamorous tasks as the planting!  But they are learning and I believe will someday have beautiful flower & veggie gardens for me to walk through!

But in the meantime here are a few more Garden Themes to dream about & work toward!
The first is a lovely *Children’s Garden~  Sunflower Houses~  A good friend of mine has a really neat book called  Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots by Sharon Lovejoy.  It is a book all about different children’s garden theme’s.  One that struck us most was a sunflower house. It is so fun & incredibly simple~ first find the perfect spot, a sunny corner in the far back of your veggie garden works well~ or in a flower bed if you have room~ figure about a 6’x6′ area.  You will need the Giant Grey Stripe or Mammoth Sunflower’s or even better a combo of both.  Using a stick for a marker, draw out the area in the dirt, any shape you want will do~ round, diamond, square, whatever~ then plant the seeds according to package directions.  Be sure to leave enough of an opening for an entrance.  Once the seeds start to sprout reseed where any didn’t germinate so you have a complete ‘wall’.  After your sunflowers are about six inches high plant Morning Glory seeds at the base of some of the sunflowers~ about every six would be good.  To make a roof over your hide away, take twine and go around the tops of the sunflowers to make criss~cross sections for the morning glories to climb over.  Once your sunflowers and morning glories are full grown it will be the perfect spot for picnics, story time or playing house.  Your children will love it!
other stuff for the Children to plant…. Children love to plant and if you give them something fun to grow it can even be more special! Let them plant some decorative gourds.  There are more varieties than you can shake a stick at including Swan, Bottle, Snake, Apple and even a Dinosaur Gourd.  Let them page the seed catalogs with you and have them pick what interests them.  There are books that teach the art of Gourdology which can be found at your local library.  The garden project can at harvest time become a craft project!  

Are you a crafty type of person?  Why not try growing your own Wreath Garden.  With the cost of materials these days, a package of seeds will go a long way in the savings department. Try growing these easy plants and who knows you might even be able to start a little business with your craft!
*Flowers that work well for Wreath’s include~ boxwood, sweet annie, yarrow, bay, statice, artemisias and gomphrena. 

*Ditch Garden~
Do you have a ditch in front or alongside your home that just screams ‘do something with me’? It is always an eye soar and you just don’t really have the time to tend another garden? You want something but would like a maintainence free space that looks good without a lot of effort? I did, so last year I attacked the ditch that runs along the road in the front of our yard. My ditch is often fairly wet so my choice was a day lily patch. Here are two very quick & simple solutions if you have a similar dilemma. First & foremost determine how often and to what degree the area is wet.  This will determine if you do a Wild Flower or Day Lily Garden.  Next, if tilling is a possibility rotor~till up the section to be seeded/planted.  If the area is not tillable due to moisture you will need to do a Day Lily garden.  If this is the solution, dig holes about every two feet and plant a clump of day lilies.  They can handle the early spring moisture and tolerate the dry & hot summer days that hit Michigan. If the area is not overly moist and tilling is an option,  simply scatter Wild Flower seeds in it. After a couple years you will have a breathtaking, car slowing garden that will never be an eye soar again.  Which ever you decide will best fit your space, be sure to check planting directions/requirements before you put all the work into it.  

What are Butterfly Kisses you ask? These have been shared in my gardens for many years by me & all my children.  They are the sweetest way to give that little person in your life a ‘special’ kiss & I love you.  So here are step by step instructions for those who are interested!
*First, find one or more of your favorite children.
*Next, stand them close to you and get down to their level~ face to face!
*Getting right up close in their face, put your eye up against their eye and blink as quickly as you can!  Be sure to tell the child to do the same!  The child will of course giggle and ask for tons more and of course you will gladly oblige!
That’s a Butterfly Kiss, and of course they are most fun in a garden!

Who says Apple Pie is just for desert?  This yummy Apple Pie will surprise the ones you love around the table, give it a try!

Apple ‘Breakfast’ Pie

1 beaten Egg, from Garden Gate
1/4 cup oil
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cup Pancake Mix from Taylor’s Bake Shoppe
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. Vanilla Sugar
2 Granny Smith apples cored & wedged
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
2 Tbsp. butter
Add about 1/2 cup nuts is you would like!
Top it with some Whipped Cream or Ice Cream~ Yummy!

1.  Beat the egg, oil & milk together and then add Pancake mix, 1/2 cup of sugar and nuts if using.  Beat until smooth, but don’t over beat.
2. Pour into a greased 10″ pie plate. 
3. Arrange the apples evenly over batter.  Combine the 2 Tbsp. of sugar with cinnamon & nutmeg; sprinkle over the apples.  Dot with butter.
4.  Bake at 375 degrees for about 30- 35 minutes or until apples when poked feel tender.  Serve warm with your choice of topping.

Happy Day,