Gardens and the Lunar Cycle

Our gardening endeavors have been guided by the moon for long, long time. Recently, the advent of agriculture has been pushed back to 10,000 years in China; it is quite possible that cosmic influence with regard to planting was something of a science even then. The first known lunar planting calendar was devised by Hesiod … Continue Reading

So Let’s Review

This blog, Companion Planting: Bio Diverse Container Gardens, provides all the basic information needed to grow your own food and herbs regardless of the limits of space, ability, or time to do so. I have tried to make it comprehensive and yet uncomplicated. Certainly, if any particular feature of it strikes your fancy, there are … Continue Reading

Grain and The Evolution of Our Species

I have forever wondered where the lines are placed between lore, mystery, and history. History can either be proven absolutely or arrived at by a consensus of informed speculation. Informed speculation? That suggests that if you are famous your speculation is respected. If you are unknown chances are you will be ignored, dismissed, or even … Continue Reading

Everlasting Flowers

Bringing the garden inside for winter has long been a human passion. Long ago our ancestors brought holly and evergreen boughs into their dwellings in order to live with the energy and spirit of the forest. We still do this during the time of winter solstice. Bundles of herbs, grasses, seedpods, and flowers can simply … Continue Reading

Herbs as Bonsai

If bonsai is something that interests you there are a wide variety of herbs that lend themselves to this art. Many familiar herbs are actually small shrubs such as rosemary, bay, sage, and lavender. Others tend to ramble around a bit but on close examination we can clearly see that they too have woody stems. … Continue Reading

Herbs as Houseplants

Many herbs serve as fine houseplants. Their visual beauty, aromatic properties, and continued service in the kitchen make herbs terrific winter companions. As with many plants, herbs require at least 6 hours of continuous sunlight a day. Should these requirements be difficult or impossible to meet grow lights are a great solution. Please visit an … Continue Reading

Making Herbal Remedies

I have no doubt that herbal remedies have been around for millions of years. But just like our ancestors we must be knowledgeable about the plant’s identity and properties. Misusing plants can be every bit as dangerous and deadly as failing to read the label on prescription drugs picked up at your local pharmacy. Nevertheless … Continue Reading

Preserving Herbs

  If you have grown lots of your favorite herbs or buy them fresh in the market, and long to preserve a good pallet for winter, it’s pretty easy. Herbs can be dried right in your oven on its lowest setting. Keep the door ajar and stir occasionally. I live in the desert so herbs … Continue Reading

Herbal Jelly, Sugar, and Syrup

Perhaps I am unimaginative but I never thought much beyond cinnamon and sugar. Now I know that herbs can be added to jelly, sugar, syrup, and beverages. We have all heard of mint jelly but there are other good choices too. According to Leslie Bremness, author of Complete Book of Herbs, tart apples make an … Continue Reading

Herbal Butters, Oils, and Vinegar

Although there exists traditional herb combinations (and I will list a few), with the array of herbs and flowers available clearly we are limited only by our imaginations. Herb butters, oils, vinegars, even cream cheese, yogurt, and sour cream can be magically transformed. Herbal butter is easy. Combine one tablespoon of minced fresh herbs to … Continue Reading

Traditional Herbal Combos

Traditional herbal combinations used to prepare meat, fish or vegetables are called Bouquet Garni. They can be dried or frozen together. For soup or stew some people place them in a little cheesecloth sack tied up with a string that has been left long enough to tie to the cooking pot. The sack is dropped … Continue Reading

Herbal Tea

Herbal Tea Where would we be without herbal tea? In the list of possible combinations that follows you will see many of the herbs and flowers we have already discussed as companion plants to your vegetables and all of those beneficial insects. For those of you who haven’t tried making tea beyond the use of … Continue Reading

Edible Flowers

Like everything we ingest we approach new things with caution. Edible flowers are no exception. The list I offer is for informational purposes only even though it was well researched.  Flowers can be tossed in salads, floated in soups, and added as beautiful touches to drinks. They can be minced and included in oils, vinegars, … Continue Reading

Nectar for Butterflies

I imagine that butterflies have enthralled us since the beginning. Some ancient cultures believed that butterflies were souls, particularly female souls, on their journey to their next life. Other cultures thought of them as changelings, sacred twins, or creatures that exemplified the holy trinity of birth, death, and rebirth. No matter what you believe we … Continue Reading

Bees and Their Delectable Delights

Early settlers brought honeybees, now widespread throughout the world, to North America. Today their impact on the global food supply and ultimately the global economy cannot be underestimated. Prince Charles did an exemplary job bringing his book Harmony to the world, published by Harper Collins in 2010. He makes an eloquent connection between bees and … Continue Reading

Beneficial Insects

Before I can think about what I want to harvest for food, I think about what I want to bring to my garden, the great volunteer army of beneficial insects. These creatures are both pollinators and predators that prey on the very insects that gobble up our vegetables. If I were forced to choose only … Continue Reading

Plant Propagation

So lets pretend that the growing season is just about done. The leaves are turning, frost will be here any minute, and the smell of winter is in the air. Your perennials have been cut back and all of your vegetable greenery and annual refuse has been minced into compost. Your container soil has been … Continue Reading

Homebrewed Antidotes and Anecdotes

This article is a short collection of bits and pieces I thought I would put together in one place. Fertilizer and compost have some nice companions that can be harvested from your garden. Comfrey foliage makes terrific fertilizer. And the leaves of yarrow, valerian, chamomile, and borage speed up decomposition of compost and add enormous … Continue Reading

Trap Crops and Emergence Cycles

When sufficient space allows for it consider inter-planting trap crops. Although not much study has been given to this, trap crops are the food of choice for offending insects. Trap crops draw insects away from the plants you value. Once infested predatory insects can be purchased and released on to the trap crops where the … Continue Reading

Soil: The Goddess of the Garden

If you grow anything at all you become a steward of the soil. Soil is a complex, living, breathing organism and can make or break anything cultivated from a single houseplant to a huge farm. Often an after thought or given no thought at all, soil is the Goddess of the garden. She is complicated, … Continue Reading

Expanding Our Horizons

“Grape, Pea and Mustard” was the last of nine gardens that combined common edibles as companions to each others’ lives. We have learned that there are twenty herbs absolutely essential to the health of any vegetable garden. This short list is a microcosm of the critical need for biodiversity. With it we have succeeded in enticing … Continue Reading

Grape, Pea and Mustard

There is no reason why you can’t container grow a grapevine on a balcony. Grapes (Vitis vinifera) love to be grown with hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) and a small amount of mustard greens and peas. The required trellis could make a lovely privacy screen on which to grow grapes and peas. As you remember, edible peas … Continue Reading

Potato, Horseradish and Pea

With a little planning, growing potatoes in containers can well be worth the effort. They require equal parts of soil and leaves with a little sand, thoroughly mixed together and set aside in a second container. I will explain why as we go.  You don’t necessarily have to buy seed potatoes. The “eyes” of commercial … Continue Reading

Corn, Squash, Melon, Mustard & Bean

Corn can indeed be grown in containers provided the container can accommodate a dozen plants per pot sown 4 inches apart. Corn despises peas but loves mustard greens, beans, squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, melons and our entire companion group. Three large containers would allow three successive sowings two to four weeks apart. You can also select … Continue Reading

Onion, Celery & Carrot

I think this group is spectacular with the spikes of onion foliage, the leafy green of celery and the ferny tops of carrot. Add some summer savory and chamomile, simply gorgeous.  Anything onion is a beautiful plant. The family includes scallions or bunching onions, shallots, garlic, bulb onions, leeks and chives. We have decided to … Continue Reading

Eggplant and Cucumber

I really must contain my enthusiasm for the beauty of eggplant before I give over my entire garden to it. There are a number of gorgeous heirlooms that range in color from snowy white to nearly black through a dazzling shade of near fuchsia. Decisions, decisions. My little container garden can only accommodate one. And … Continue Reading

Tomato, Pepper, & Onion

Tomatoes and peppers are just plain easy to grow. Both benefit enormously from the entire companion group. Parsley, onion and basil are absolute essentials. Tomatoes and peppers require at least two gallons of soil per plant. Tomatoes in particular have a far greater yield if caged or grown on a trellis. Cherry tomatoes simply must … Continue Reading

Cabbage, Spinach, Beet and Celery

This is a cool weather collection and although it would love our companion group it will be too cold to plant most of it when this collection will be well on its way. The cabbage family includes Brussels sprouts and kale and this collection is good place for them too. And once the crop is … Continue Reading

Peas, Beans, Carrots & Lettuce

Peas love caraway, chervil, summer savory and marjoram. They flourish with lettuce, beans and carrots. But peas absolutely despise the entire families of allium (onion) and brassica (cabbage, broccoli, etc). They also despise beet, chard, kale, marigold and dill. So as you can see even some of our companion group must be kept at a … Continue Reading

Lettuce, Bunching Onion, Radish, Carrot & Spinach

I have only one thing to say here: The Cook’s Garden (www.cooksgarden.com). They have the most incredible selection of salad greens I have ever seen. Included among their choices are lettuce mixes for cool weather and warm. Some are as vivid as a Monet painting is; others have extraordinary leaf shapes and textures. The Cook’s … Continue Reading

Artichokes and Climate Zones

This morning I read a Facebook post written by a friend, Joshua B. He wanted to know how to hold over artichokes where winter temperatures drop to zero and below.  I thought this was the perfect opportunity to explore climate zones, plant origins, and plant life cycles discussed earlier in this blog. Artichoke (Cynara scolymus) … Continue Reading

Container Gardening 101

We are going to plan a container garden and the first thing we must think about is what we will actually enjoy eating and growing. There is simply no point in growing something for which we have no appetite unless that particular plant is an essential companion. There is also no point in growing so … Continue Reading

Part II: Sowing Calendar

This is Part II of the sowing calendar. It is a schedule, based on May 15 as a last frost date, for sowing seeds directly outside rather than growing starts under lights several months earlier.   SOW DIRECTLY OUTSIDE   APRIL 15: Pea, Spinach, Lettuce, Onion Sets, and Seed Potatoes    MAY 1: Beet, Carrot, … Continue Reading

Part I: Sowing Calendar

Growing calendars can be confounding. Many things must be started indoors and when to start them is determined by your last frost date and the details of the specific variety listed on the seed pack. Some things do not transplant well. Bio Sponges, when handled with care radically change outcomes for these. Others grow so … Continue Reading

Starting Seeds Under Lights

I have been using fluorescent lights for growing seedlings and plants for at least 35 years. First of all, it’s fun. Starting successive replacement plants in advance of final harvest of those producing creates more generations than the two or three I might otherwise sneak in during one growing season. Lights also allow me to do … Continue Reading

Part II: Shopping for Companion Plants

These groups of herbs are the bare essentials for our wild tangles of vegetables. They enhance production and repel insect culprits while attracting bees, hummingbirds, butterflies, and beneficial insects. Later on I will devote segments to each of these magnificent creatures. But for now the list provided here will get you started and narrowly focuses on … Continue Reading

Part I: Shopping for Edibles

Before we look at the shopping list we need to think about the seed itself. “Heirloom” seeds and “species” seeds can be collected and will grow true year after year. “Hybrid” seeds are attained when two varieties of the same species are crossed, either deliberately or by natural cross-pollination. Commercial hybrids are often bad news. … Continue Reading

Life Cycles

There are possibly millions of scientific botanical terms. Many pertain to plant parts such as roots, leaves and stems. Countless more are the Latin names given to plants. Knowing a mere three of these terms creates profound insight into the handful of plants I am going talk about, vegetables and their indispensable companions. Our basic … Continue Reading

No Time Like the Present

Gardening encompasses many things. It is meditative and an expression of prayer. Creating an organic garden, whether limited to a few containers or committed to acres, is the single best thing each of us can do for our planet. And dare I say it, gardening is definitely an economic bridge and a pure pleasure in … Continue Reading