DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
I have a forum attached to my blog where people from all over the world meet to discuss simple life. There are over 8000 forum members now so we have an enormous amount of good information about growing food, cooking from scratch, family, simple living, routines, budgeting, baking and much more. Please click on the image above to go there. Newcomers will have to register. It's free, friendly and we're waiting for you.

16 May 2012

Useful flowers and the promise of things to come

If you are gardening organically, there is a lot more to it than planting seeds and fertilising. Organic gardening is a holistic method, a complexity of intertwined links between the gardener, the plants, soil, humus, microbes, minerals, water, compost, mulch and visiting insects. One of the ladies asked for a post about beneficial flowers in the garden. They are a great example of that holistic complexity because planting flowers in with the vegetables will attract beneficial insects that will not only help with pollination but also kill parasitic bugs or the sap suckers like aphids. 


Any flower that attracts bees is a good addition in the vegetable patch but there are certain flowers that attract the right sort of insects:
  • Cosmos
  • Daisies, including echinacea, feverfew, chrysanthemums, gerberas and chamomile 
  • Red clover
  • Queen Anne's Lace
  • Carrot flowers
  • Dill flowers
  • Marigolds
  • Alyssum
  • Nasturtiums
  • Yarrow
  • Borage
When I choose flowers for the vegetable garden, I choose those that will attract bees, predatory wasps, beetles, lady beetles, spiders and centipedes, and I also choose those that help me in the home as well. For instance, planting calendulas will attract bees and predatory wasps, and I can use the petals to make calendula salve. Having a few lavender plants will give me lavender for my cleaning products whether it's flowering or not. I love growing yarrow because, like comfrey, it helps stimulate decomposition in the compost heap and looks delightful in an arrangement of flowers on the kitchen table. When the nasturtiums grow wild and threaten to take over the garden, use them as extra green waste for the compost heap - they are the easiest plants to pull out.


When you decide to follow this path with beneficial plants and flowers, it's a good idea to look in your local library to see if they have a book on your local varieties. While that should be your guide, the flowers I've listed above should serve you well if you can't find a local resource.


Another elements you can add to this mix is a bowl of fresh water for the visiting insects. Make sure you place some pebbles or an upturned pot in the water for the insects to land on and to drink from. If they fall into the water, often, they drown. So providing a safe landing and drinking spot for them will see them return day after day to work in your garden.

Don't forget the fragrant flowers as well. Fragrance will help attract bees - such as the orange blossoms above. Walking into a garden full of healthy vegetables, or with shoots showing the promise of what will come, is complemented by fragrance as you walk through it. Out in the garden there is no plastic, steel or aluminium; this is the natural world in all its glory. Enjoy it, get your hands dirty, and silently thank all those visiting helpers who visit your garden every day.

If you plant certain flowers in your garden, please tell us about them and tell us your location too so we know what works in certain areas.

ADDITIONAL READING
Frances has written an excellent guide to beneficial bugs and flowers at Green Harvest.



30 comments:

  1. I don't have a veggie garden, no sun, but I do have some flowers and herbs growing. Yarrow is a great medicinal herb, I made a tincture to use as a wound wash and this year I am making salve. The bees just love my rosemary and it's great for cooking with, teas and medicinals.
    Your nasturtiums can be eaten as well! The flowers taste like radishes and brighten up salads.
    This week I am harvesting bee balm for tincture and salves, you can make tea also.

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  2. Morning Rhonda :)

    We have planted lavender, alyssum, calendula and some daisies in our garden. We are about to add some nasturtiums as well. They have helped to brighten things up and we have noticed a slight increase especially in lady beetles and bees in our kitchen garden.

    Oh, and we live on the Sunshine Coast, Qld.

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  3. I always keep flowers in the garden but your article gave me some information I didn't know. My husband used to chid me about having flowers where a vegetable could be growing but he didn't realize all the benefits to the family to have such flowers growing too.I keep notebook by the computer to add the hints and information you give us that are new to me. Also the date it was posted and the title of the post in case I want to refer to the complete article again. Rhonda I want to thank you again for the search engine you have so we can find past posts from this blog. This is so very helpful and so thoughtful of you to provide this for us. Sarah

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  4. I live in Tasmania and each year the red poppies self sow and Craig is keen to pull them out to make way for edibles but I manage to negotiate to keep some randomly through the beds because I know the bees love them and it brings a lot of traffic into the garden. The other flower I love for birds and bees and people too I guess is the Sunflower. I also keep some violets for edible flowers and small heartsease (Viola tri-colour)sprinkled in salad at the end of winter and beginning of Spring lift the spirits no end.

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  5. I’ve got little bit of everything to ensure flowers all year long, mostly natives (plants and trees) but also most of your list. I’ve noticed that the basil flowers are also a big hit with the bees.
    We have a couple of bottle brushes planted, they are buzzing with bees and full of birds. Somehow they seem to take turns flowering! The birds will also do some hunting for insects (snails, grasshoppers). The pond will attract frogs and a place to hide when the birds come and have a bath. And a couple of rocks for the lizzards.
    Wait this post was about flowers, got carried away again...
    Is there a book on companion planting you can recommend? I know the basics but would like to learn more about it.

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  6. Dear Rhonda,
    I have never posted a comment here before despite reading your lovely blog whenever I get a chance. I was shocked to find your format has changed and where is the lovely picture of your smiling face gone? Oh Rhonda I miss the old format with the beautiful calendula flowers and the warm background colour...and you!

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  7. g'day
    I have growing with my pumpkin gone wild & my tomatoes, rosemary, basil & chives so far. the bees love the basil! I also brought back from my daughters, lemon thyme, coriander & mint. scored a daisy & french lavender from my markets last sunday which I havent put down in the vege patch yet due to the bandicoots causing problems with some plants, hope to fence my garden off soon though. I am hoping to get to growing alot of different herbs again, am surprised you don't use your herbs yourself? many are very good for you. anyway always look forward to reading your blog, you are an inspiration to so so many, thankyou
    hope hanno is doing better as well.
    have a great day!

    selina from kilkivan qld

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  8. Selina, I use herbs almost every day. I don't make note of it because I see them as just another plant, not as something special or extra. I always have growing parsley, comfrey, yarrow, oregano, mint, thyme and bay and usually have lavender, borage and lemon balm.

    Hanno is making progress. We go back to the doctor and physio tomorrow. Thanks for asking.

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    Replies
    1. Yay! So happy to see your lovely face back on the home page and beautiful homely knitting pic. Much better! Cherish

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  9. Hi, just wondering where the link at the bottom of the page is for mobile version as I read your blog on my iPod? I can't get the mobile version when I try to read your older blogs eg 2007. I was able to click on it before the changed format. Thanks, Cherish

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  10. Hi Rhonda,

    I read your posts for a while late last year and early this year, but life got in the way and I stopped reading my blogs.

    I just heard you on Light FM and Im so glad I did!

    Im going on maternity leave in a month and I am really looking forward to starting my new life as a stay at home Mum and helping my husband and I financially by becoming more self sufficient and less consumer oriented.

    Im going to go and buy your book now before I spend this months pay on "things".

    Have a great day!
    Kristy

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  11. Hi, Rhonda. I love the new picture and header you put up...it looks so welcoming, warm and inviting. I loved your book and so glad the way you willingly help others. You have certainly helped me to simplify my life and be more concious about my spending and other things. Thank you for all you do. Im reading the book now for the second time and learning more as i go through it step by step. My first reading I just devoured it because i was so happy to have it. God bless you for all the ways you help others.

    Jeanie in Ky.. USA

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  12. Hello Rhonda
    Lovely to see your happy face on the site again!!
    Flowers bring great joy to the vegetable garden as well as the bees, birds and other beneficial insects.
    All the best

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  13. I too love edible and useful flowers in my garden. One that you haven't mentioned, I think, is borage. They grow big and can be a pest as the are so prolific but we use te flowers in salads and for cake decoration, the leaves go into the compost to help it break down. They can be eaten too like fritters if you seacpw the prickles off and batter and fry them. And of course the bees just live them!

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  14. Hi Rhonda, I have watched the changes on your site over the last week, and it is lovely. Today though I cannot find the link to the DTE forum, it is totally disappeared from the top of the banner. Is it my issue?

    Kind regards
    Anna from Brisbane

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  15. My basil and rosemary are wonderful, I use it every day, and once we move in our country home, to spend the whole summer there, I'll grow up my lettuce. Special taste and great satisfaction! Enjoy, Clara.

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  16. Thank you so much,

    Celia

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  17. Here in NJ I planted sunflowers, echinacea, salvia, marigolds in my garden at some point. One of the things I do is let my oregano go to flower. The bees LOVE it. Hyssop is. A superb plant as well as bee balm to attract bees to the garden. Since I do not have a fence around my property I fenced the veggies to guard against deer and plant herbs and flowers around the fence to help ward them off And attract bees.

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  18. I have used sunflowers, marigolds and salvia plants in my garden. Since we have a serious deer population where I live in New Jersey, I have my veggie garden fenced in and this made me choose herbs and flowers the little buggers will not eat to go around the garden. I have echinacea, mint, oregano, parsley and lemon balm. I also let my leeks go to seed once and I have never seen such beautiful flowers or happier bees. Oregano is a great herb to let flower along with sage as the bees adore them. Then there are my beautiful hyssops which is also like crack to bees. Companion planting is a great way to get the most from your garden and it is nice to see people practice it.

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  19. Love the new format now you have your photo back and love the knitting picture. You have personalised it.

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  20. Just chiming in to say...love the recent updates on the blog! And so nice to "see" your welcoming face again!

    Thanks for all you do to strengthen and encourage us all...

    Lin in USA

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  21. Hello, Rhonda. Love the new site design. You're looking wonderful as usual. Keep up the great job.
    Jo-Anne from Canada

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  22. Yippee! Glad to see your face back! It feels right!

    Diane in North Carolina

    ReplyDelete
  23. Love the new look of your blog - and so glad you added a picture of yourself -

    Really enjoying your book - I read a little bit of it every day and savor each little morsel of information !

    ReplyDelete
  24. So glad to see your kind face again-it feels like I am looking at an old friend. Thank you so much for all you do to help strenghten, equip, and encourage families!

    Angie

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  25. When I have too many nasturtium plants popping up, I pull out a few at a time and throw them into the chook run. They love the greens, and they're apparently good for guarding against, or expelling worms. I'm loving reading your book Rhonda, you affirm my life's decisions!

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  26. I live in Ohio, US. I have some that you listed-calendula, yarrow, borage, marigold. I also have shasta daisies, roses, several perennial flowers. I try nasturtium every year, but it rarely does well. Last year I had alyssum, but forgot to seed or buy any. Maybe I will go to the garden center for some. It varies from year to year- I tend to be less restricting on my garden, and I let things go to seed, so last year there were carrot flowers. This spring, I have parsley, chicory and beet flowering, as well as some asian greens. I let them stay in ground until it's time to plant the heat loving veggies(soon!) I haven't seen any dill or cilantro volunteers this year which bugs me. I have a huge sage bush, and I know some people dont let the flowers come, but I do, the bees love it. I have seen several types of bees this spring at the sage. I also let clover run through the lawn because the bees love it. I love this post, I think every garden should be in flower whenever possible.

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