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Flowers in the vegetable garden.

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MrsJonesey May 28, 2012 02:30 PM

What do you grow to either ward off bad bugs or to lure the good ones in your vegetable beds? I am growing marigolds, of course. What are your thoughts about Four O'Clocks and Tansy?

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    kengk RE: MrsJonesey May 28, 2012 02:35 PM

    I'm skeptical about measurable benefits to the vegetables but the flowers do so much good for the soul that it doesn't matter.

    1 Reply
    1. re: kengk
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      MrsJonesey RE: kengk May 29, 2012 11:40 AM

      Very true.

    2. Novelli RE: MrsJonesey May 28, 2012 03:00 PM

      I like to grow native wildflowers that bring in beneficial insects to my garden and most of the herbs grown can bring a lot in when they flower, as well. To me, it's a nice balance and it doesn't hurt that it looks pretty too!

      I have Alyssum, Arroyo Lupine, Bachelor's Button, Black-Eyed Susan, Coreopsis, Indian Blanket and Mission Red Monkey.

      If you have the room go for it, four o'clocks can get pretty unwieldy, although I don't know of their beneficial value. Tansies are great, bright, and fairly compact. They can bring in a good deal of ladybugs which are wonderful.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Novelli
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        MrsJonesey RE: Novelli May 29, 2012 11:51 AM

        I bet your garden is pretty. I don't have the extra room unfortunately for as many flowers as you. I've never grown Four O'Clocks or Tansy before, but I've read that Japanese beetles are attracted to and poisoned by the Four O'Clocks. I believe Tansy supposedly wards off some of the bad bugs but can be a nuisance if allowed to set seed, plus it's poisonous to some animals. You saying it attracts ladybugs makes it more appealing though.

        1. re: MrsJonesey
          Novelli RE: MrsJonesey May 29, 2012 02:12 PM

          Honestly, I don't have much room either. I just broadcast the wildflower seeds by hand around the edges of my vegetable beds and trim back when necessary.

          I was not aware of Four O'Clocks providing that kind of benefit.

          I wouldn't exactly say Tansies ward off bad bugs. I just think they perform kind of a trap crop. So bright and yellow they can attract white flies, but better they bother the tansy than your vegetables!

          Ladybugs = no aphids - Ladybugs are voracious eater of aphids and their larva.

          1. re: MrsJonesey
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            harrie RE: MrsJonesey Jun 4, 2012 01:07 PM

            I've read the same thing about Four O'Clocks, but failed at growing them and gave up; and I've heard the exact same thing about white geraniums but haven't tried it. I've also read in a few places that Tansy is toxic to livestock. Tansy is also reputed to deter Japanese and cucumber beetles and squash bugs - but honestly, I don't know if *anything* actually deters those pests!

            I put sunflowers, cosmos and zinnias in our garden every year to attract bees and other pollinators. (Really, any pollen-bearing flower probably works.) Birds, too - I've been lucky that the birds work on the sunflowers (and hopefully bad bugs) and leave my tomatoes alone. I also let some basil go to seed because it also brings in the bees and other good bugs.

            For some reason, my tomatoes do really well with a nasturtium or a petunia planted in the bed.

            Marigolds go all over the garden; their roots are supposed to give off a substance that kills nematodes in the immediate area in the soil, plus if planted thickly enough, they can mask the smell of something delicious-smelling and tasting that you're growing.

            A neighboring, not very friendly gardener in the community garden used to ask why we had all those flowers planted where we could have put in more vegetables. My husband would go through the "bring in the bees and hide the tasty stuff" routine, and I'd follow up with "and they're purty." This ticked Mr. Friendly off to no end; and that alone was reason enough for me to continue the practice.

        2. jayt90 RE: MrsJonesey Jun 1, 2012 09:33 AM

          I like to plant lemon balm to attract bees, plus it makes a soothing tea.
          I also plant nasturtium for the color, and for salads, as everything is edible.

          1 Reply
          1. re: jayt90
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            Eldon Kreider RE: jayt90 Jun 1, 2012 04:07 PM

            Lemon balm is quite invasive and prone to spread seeds all over the place. We have seedlings in lots of strange places. This does not stop us from growing it, though, even if we could eradicate it.

            We prefer to use lemon balm with mint or black tea for a more rounded flavor.

          2. jpr54_1 RE: MrsJonesey Jun 2, 2012 01:42 PM

            I plant calendula, nasturiums,and dianthus

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            1. re: jpr54_1
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              joaniebaby RE: jpr54_1 Jun 4, 2012 03:24 PM

              At an organic farming conference I went to they recommended planting nasturtiums with summer squashes. It is supposed to help with borers, and of course the flowers are great in salads as jayt90 noted.. I have not tried it yet though

              1. re: joaniebaby
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                NanH RE: joaniebaby Jun 8, 2012 11:21 AM

                I lose a lot of winter squash to vine borers. Annoys the heck out of me!! I am trying a three sisters bed this year, though I don't know if that will help. I will hit the garden center for nasturtiums, since I am late for seed starting.

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              dfrostnh RE: MrsJonesey Jun 4, 2012 03:57 AM

              I should have commented earlier. Tansy is a perennial and can grow a massive root system. I would not plant it in the vegetable garden. I have room for a wild border which is suggested in permaculture books to attract beneficial insects. If anything, I want things that will also provide food for birds. Phoebees love to sit on the pea fencing and watch for insects. I did have a wild border but my husband has been too enthusiastic about mowing to make things look neat. I just hadn't thought about it before but I want a patch for things like milkweed, brown-eyed susans, etc. In a garden I toured last year, they chose a different section of lawn to go wild each year. That way every section of the lawn was mowed often enough to keep down bushes.

              I like to plant nasturtiums, calendula (self seeds) and marigolds just for pretty but I understand marigolds should repell squash and cucumber beetles.

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                hazardnc RE: MrsJonesey Jun 4, 2012 01:16 PM

                I like to plant borage near my tomatoes..love the flowers but it also is supposed to deter horn worms.

                I tried planting marigolds to deter rabbits (was told rabbits hate the smell). The rabbits ate the marigolds.

                I used to grow roses but gave up b/c of Japanese beetles. Then I learned I had created a garden of eaten (pardon the pun) as beetles love zinnias, Crape Myrtles, sunflowers and many others.

                Our local hardware store sells live lady bugs and praying mantis egg sacks - maybe you can find some locally?

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                  NanH RE: MrsJonesey Jun 8, 2012 11:24 AM

                  My veggies are in raised beds of cinder block, so I plant flowers and herbs in the holes. My flowers are mostly marigolds and zinnias. I love how old fashioned they are. I had a couple mystery seeds only labeled 'flower'. Something is growing that I don't recognize. If I still don't recognize it when it flowers, I'll post a pic. I plant basil amongst the tomatoes and dill amongst the cucs.

                  1. DonShirer RE: MrsJonesey Jun 8, 2012 04:35 PM

                    A few years ago, I read in Park's catalog that their Golden Guardian Marigolds protected against nematodes. Now at the time I didn't know what a nematode was, but they sounded scary, so I got a pack of the GGM's and planted them in the tomato patch. They grew up in a tall tangle and were a pain when I wanted to weed or feed the Toms, and I didn't notice any change in the Tomatoes, so I tossed the rest of the 500 seeds in the packet and didn't try it again.

                    When I mentioned this on another gardening site recently, an expert told me that (1) in cold winter regions (like mine), there wouldn't be any nematode problem, and (2) for tagetes marigolds to discourage the little critters, you have to grow them over the entire garden and plow them under at the end of a season.

                    While I've given up on the marigolds, I do occasionally sneak in some nasturtiums just to add some color. I find it hard to find other flowers they look good with, but they do add some cheer to the veggies.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: DonShirer
                      kattyeyes RE: DonShirer Jun 20, 2012 06:18 AM

                      I've bookended my hanging flower box with nasturtiums--trailing rosemary and red oak leaf lettuce in the middle.

                       
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                      LJS RE: MrsJonesey Jun 26, 2012 06:21 AM

                      Sort of the other-way-round, but chives and garlic interspersed among the roses will keep aphids and other pests away.

                      1. tcamp RE: MrsJonesey Jul 1, 2012 06:45 PM

                        I have marigolds, nasturtiums, and zinnias. Zinnas are for the cut flowers, my favorites.

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