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Quote of the Day: Toby Hemenway

July 6th, 2014

“Of course, we want to live in an attractive landscape. But if we can go beyond what plants look like, and examine what they are doing, we can begin to create gardens that have the health, resilience, and beauty of natural ecosystems while yielding abundant gifts for people and for other species.”

-Toby Hemnway Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, 2nd Edition
comfrey 1
Earlier this week I mentioned planting nitrogen fixing plants in the ornamental gardens for the benefits they bring to the other plants. There’s also a group of plants called dynamic accumulators that bring up lots of nutrients from deep within the soil. Whenever I plant a garden bet I try to add a few of these to my garden, comfrey is my favorite.
comfrey 2
Comfrey is not only a wonderfully beneficial plant for the garden, it’s also beautiful as well. The bees LOVE it. It just so happens that many of my comfrey plants came from my grandmother’s house. They were passed on to my mom who passed them along to me. I use comfrey leaves for lots of things, not only do I use them as mulch around plants, I also put a few in the planting holes of anything I add to the garden. They are supposed to help the plants by feeding them and by stimulating root growth. I also dry comfrey to feed the chickens all winter. Comfrey is also nice because it’s easy propagate so you can have it growing all over the garden easily and inexpensively.
comfrey 3
There are all kinds of dynamic accumulators, in fact many of the plants we call weeds are in this group. If you are interested in learning about this kind of companion plants I highly recommend the book quoted above. I checked this book out of the library so many times I finally purchased one for my library.

What’s your favorite companion planting group?

7 Comments to “Quote of the Day: Toby Hemenway”
  1. Laura @ Raise Your Garden on July 6, 2014 at 7:12 am

    Well, I’ve read planting marigolds next to basil, broccoli, eggplant, cucumbers, tomatoes and squash enhances their growth so I try to plant a mix up of those items in my bed. Marigolds are supposed to keep the beetles away from melons to so I plant some on the outskirts of my beds. Not sure if it definitely works, but it adds a little color to my veggie beds =) I love to learn all I can about companion planting and I’m trying to get a better hand on it!

    Reply to Laura @ Raise Your Garden's comment

  2. Chris on July 6, 2014 at 11:22 am

    Yes, I do some companion planting as well…some for just asthetics. Some things just look beautiful together! :) Now I am off to find some comfrey…do you plant yours from seed or does it just march around by itself? I use borage much like you use comfrey!

    Reply to Chris's comment

  3. Caroline on July 6, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    So far, I’ve only done basil next to tomatoes and peppers.
    I look forward to learning more about companion plants. I have been throwing the pulled weeds at the base of my plants, hoping to add some nutrients that way (as mulch.)

    Reply to Caroline's comment

  4. Kyle on July 7, 2014 at 12:04 am

    I read Gaia’s Garden earlier this spring and have my first fruit tree guild that seems to be doing pretty well. I have a plum tree that seemed(?) to be ailing. I surrounded it with lupines, borage, comfrey, favas, nasturtiums, sweet pea, lemon balm, and a rose. It’s all looking remarkably good, given it was a plot of mostly dead land underneath landscaping fabric in February!

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  5. Maybelline on July 7, 2014 at 2:26 am

    French marigolds with tomatoes.

    Reply to Maybelline's comment

  6. Nebraska Dave on July 7, 2014 at 8:39 am

    Susy, I’m trying to get caught up with the blog posts I missed over the weekend. This one on companion planting has piqued my interest. You have mentioned before about the deep rooted plants pulling up the nutrients and minerals from the deeper soil to help the garden plants. Nature has a way of doing things right, don’t you think. I really should pay more attention to the wild and give up some of the row crop farming techniques. If Comfrey is easy to propagate can it become invasive? I still have a huge problem with unwanted plants in Terra Nova Gardens and don’t really want to add to it.

    Today I meet with the city health department. They want to talk with me about my gardening on vacant lots. Keeping vacant lots under control and clear of weeds falls under the jurisdiction of the heath department. That should be quite interesting.

    Have a great Comfrey day.

    Reply to Nebraska Dave's comment

  7. Charlie@Seattle Trekker on July 9, 2014 at 10:44 pm

    This is a fascinating subject and I appreciate the information…I went to the library and I checked out the book by Toby Hemenway that you referenced.

    Reply to Charlie@Seattle Trekker's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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