What is an Organic Oasis and how do I know if I live in one?
I believe an organic oasis is not just a space where food is grown but so much more. I think it’s a place you will want to spend most of your time when the weather is nice. A place to relax and enjoy and visit with family and friends. If you grow some of your produce there all the better but most of all it’s good for the environment!
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Today I want to talk about one of the most powerful essentials of any Organic Oasis:
A Pollinator Border Full of Herbs and Companion Plants
I feel like the pollinator border around the Brooklyn Grange Farm on the Roof is one of the best examples of growing companion plants to lure in beneficial insects in action.
What are Companion Plants anyway?
Companion plants are any plants that grow well together in a symbiotic relationship where they each get benefits from being planted close together. Herbs make some of the best companion plants because their strong odors deter many pests that eat your garden.
Herbs are so easy to grow even I can do it.
When it’s dry and dusty and hot and nothing else wants to bloom bees can find food on my oregano that’s thriving!
From Brown Thumb to Green ~ Why gardening starts in the kitchen.
How I went from a non-gardener to confident gardener after listening to my podcast. For years Mike’s been growing vegetables around me but it wasn’t until I started listening to my guests and putting their suggestions into place with Mike’s help of course that I really felt confident that I could grow at least the basics of food and create an enjoyable healthy oasis.
I say it all starts in the kitchen I think, and I think it all starts growing an herb on your windowsill. But I truly believe every yard, landscape, garden should have herbs growing in them.
- Herbs are some of the first flowers in the spring for pollinators to feed on.
- They smell strong repelling a lot of pests that like to eat your vegetables.
- They taste great and make your food pop!
- More pollinators means you’re vegetables will produce more.
Here are 3 easy steps to growing your herbs starting today.
You can start an herb even here in Montana in the middle of winter. Most grocery stores have those herb plugs in them for cooking, and even here I was able to buy packets of seeds in my local health food store or town market. They might grow a little slower then they do outside, and the rosemary might not make it but you can always dry it and it still adds delicious flavor to your meals and is much fresher then any jar of spices you get at your store.
Step One Keep Them Warm
- When starting herbs it nice to put them in a plastic container that can keep them warm and help them germinate. Especially if you are starting in the middle of winter.
- You can usually find an already growing herb to plant in the produce section of your grocery store. Even I can get mint to thrive. Basil again likes it warm and I haven’t had as much success transplanting them. My rosemary dies but you can still use the dried leaves to flavor your food and planting it in dirt made it last way longer then it would just in my fridge plus I think it will lose flavor in there.
- The more you use your herb the more it will grow. It loves it when you give it a haircut and eat some. This is referred to as pinching, and you basically just grab the top off and where you grab the top of the plant two more will stems will grow making your plant bushier and fuller. Also you want to make sure your basil doesn’t flower. The more you keep pinching the less it will try to flower.
And you know what else I hate when I buy cilantro and no matter how fast I try to use it up it gets all yucky and slimy in my fridge. Fresh herbs on the window are he best, although I can’t quite get cilantro to thrive anywhere. But most people say it’s easy to grow, so I’ve got some things to learn.
Most of all herbs are generally easy to grow indoors or out, make your food taste great and the pollinators love them!
Early in the spring they are some of the first food for bees etc.
Bonus 3 Easy Ways to Attract Beneficial Insects and Reduce Pests
- Plant an herb
2. Plant flowers
3. Put a water feature in that bees and beneficials can drink from.
Many companion plants like Sunflowers attract insects that would otherwise damage your plants but post no harm to the sunflowers. Ants and aphids are both lured towards sunflowers leaving your crops to thrive.