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Companion Planting Basics with the Garden Managers of The Lodge at Woodloch, Ep 189



Did you know that plants can also be friends? If you’ve followed me on Instagram this year, you will know about the love affair I am having at The Lodge at Woodloch, a luxury resort and spa, about an hour from where I live. A very interesting aspect of the Lodge at Woodloch is the Blackmore Farm, their regenerative organic farm that grew 9500 lbs of produce for the Lodge’s Restaurant last year! And it is run by only two guys, Sam and Derrick, whom I’ve invited to share their passion for soil biology and sustainable gardening… and to spill all the beans (pun intended) on their companion planting secrets!


In this episode, we learn:

  • [08:09] How The Lodge at Woodloch’s farm developed over the years
  • [12:20] What is the significance and meaning of companion planting?
  • [13:10] The “fruit, root, leaf, aromatic herb, and flower” formula for companion planting
  • [14:05] The relationship between plant taste and companion planting
  • [14:46] Borage, Borage, Borage!
  • [16:46] Where can you get a huge selection of flowers, herbs, vegetables, and fruits this winter?
  • [18:15] Philosophy behind The Lodge’s motto and how it can be applied to small-scale gardens
  • [26:04] How did Sam and Derrick begin their journey into gardening without formal degrees in agriculture?
  • [28:59] Gardening's growing popularity and valuable lessons from experienced gardeners
  • [30:03] Benefits of using borage as a trap crop in the garden
  • [34:26] Why it’s important to harvest companion plants as they mature
  • [37:01] How companion planting helps you to stay on top of pests and diseases
  • [38:42] When planting potatoes, are you supposed to remove the roots along with the greens of shallow-rooted greens?
  • [39:12] ​What to do if the roots of the greens and onions become intertwined
  • [39:21] Is it harmful to remove roots from the soil?
  • [42:18] How often does The Lodge use natural pesticides?
  • [45:10] Direct sow or pot-start: which is best for planting established seedlings?
  • [46:43] What should you plant withA annual flowers like zinnias or sunflowers?
  • [49:36] What’s a good companion plant for roses?
  • [52:08] Best way to plant potato leeks
  • [53:43] What does “blanching” mean?
  • [55:26] A few tips for succession planning
  • [59:32] Where can you find Sam and Derrick work on social media?


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What is Companion Planting?

Companion planting is like having a garden party where plants are the guests! It's all about growing specific plants together in ways that benefit everyone. The perks of companion planting are pretty amazing:

  1. Attracting beneficial insects and pollinators
  2. Repelling pests…like the party crashers they are
  3. Improving soil health
  4. Increasing crop yields

Companion planting charts and guides are available online, so you can find out which plants go together.


Sam and Derrick's Companion Planting Magic

Sam and Derrick made an ecosystem where crops grow together like best friends. Here are some of their best companion planting combinations:

  1. Tomatoes and basil: This dynamic duo keeps whiteflies away!
  2. Carrots and onions: Onions repel pests that harm carrots, while carrots loosen the soil, aiding onion growth.
  3. Potatoes and beans: They give the soil nitrogen, so they grow big and strong.
  4. Corn, beans, and squash: Known as the “three sisters,” corn provides support for beans to climb, beans enrich the soil with nitrogen, and squash acts as a ground cover.
  5. Cucumbers and radishes: Radishes keep cucumbers healthy and help retain water.
  6. Peppers and onions: Onions keep peppers from pests, make soil fertile, and suppress weeds.

Sam shared one of their superstar combinations: cucumbers, dill, nasturtiums, and bush beans. Nasturtiums are like the party planners—they invite cucumber beetles to the bash, who in turn pollinate the flowers. It's a mutual admiration society that benefits the whole garden.

These two amazing garden managers firmly believe that companion planting is the secret sauce to growing happy, healthy, and productive crops. And I'm totally on board with that!


The Orchards and Ecosystem at Blackmore Farm

Sam blew my mind when he shared their stunning two-acre orchard at Blackmore Farm. Imagine a garden filled with fruits, berries, and other plants. We're talking apples, Asian pears, European pears, peaches, plums, cherries, apricots, pawpaws, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, currants—you name it, they have it!


Companion Planting Formula

For each square foot of garden space, plant “a fruit, a root, a leaf, an aromatic herb, and a flower.” It's like creating a perfect party mix that brings together all the cool kids in the garden. Check out these combos that you can try with your garden:

  1. Tomatoes can be planted with parsley, carrots, celery root, and parsnips
  2. Lettuce can be planted with basil and tomatoes

Tip: planting basil alongside tomatoes keeps those pesky tomato hornworms away.


Borage, Borage, Borage

Let me tell you about my favorite. It not only tastes like refreshing cucumber but also has medicinal powers. Borage plays a key role in Blackmore Farm's garden tapestry. It attracts beneficial insects and wildlife, adding to the diversity and harmony of the garden.


Happy Plant Parties Rule!

Companion planting is a valuable technique for any gardener who wants to maximize their garden's potential. You get way fewer pests, your plants grow way better, and your whole garden becomes healthier. You can create this garden vibe where everything works together and helps each other grow. Whether you have a tiny veggie patch or a massive garden, companion planting is the way to go!


Mentioned in our conversation:


Thank you to our episode sponsors:

Territorial Seed Company

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