Tomato Guilds

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by Try Reason, Feb 17, 2012.

  1. Try Reason

    Try Reason Junior Member

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    This has probably been done before, however I looked back through 6 pages of threads and didn't find it.

    The 3-4 sister guild of Corn, Bean, Pumpkin/Squash/Melon, Quinoa/Amaranth is well known and apparenty quite easy to do depending on climate. I'm yet to try it though I would be interested in anyone's experiences who have tried it (especially if they tried the Quinoa with it). I'm also thinking that Kumara could potentially substitue for the curcubit ground cover role.

    Anyway, to the point. Given this guild fits together so neatly in physical, productivity and nutritional terms are there any other vegetable guilds that anyone is aware of that are as effective? I am particularly interested in a tomato/chillie guild. I have read that carrots and allums are supposed to do well with tomatoes though I would have to wonder how growing so close to a hungry tomato would effect the crop size of root and bulb vegetables. It also doesn't allow for the green mulch role that pumpkin plays in the 3 sisters guild. Perhaps a curcubit or melon would work in with tomatoes?

    I suppose what I'm after is the ideal productive ground cover to grow with nightshades. Kumara is a special plant because the young leaves are so versatile and tasty and the tubers need no explanation. Would be good to get a nitrogen fixer into the guild too.
     
  2. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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    We do corn with beans and squash and though the corn did well, the squash and beans did not do as well as crops by themselves. The beans did climb and hold the corn but did not produce well.
    For tomatoes we do basil and marigolds which work well as a ground cover and we have clove to some extent but nitrogen is generally added in green manure bed prep.
    I am interested in what others do.
     
  3. Try Reason

    Try Reason Junior Member

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    Hi purplepear. Yes, basil. I planted basil sparingly around my tomatoes just for the ease of picking ingredients for the same dish. Then I started reading about companion planting. A thick covering of basil would be good for detering more than a few pests. The stuff germinates and grows like crazy so it would be pretty easy to do. The root zone co-benifit thing is supposed to be a bit of a myth but no matter. Pest deterrent and evap. barrier make up for that.
     
  4. matto

    matto Junior Member

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    The traditional milpa was more than just the threes sisters guild. I like this from wiki:
    Huauzontle is also useful from Meico whish creates a good mulch but allows the corn to come up when planted at the same time. Sounds cool too.
    The andean's used quinoa with potato and tarwi (lupinus mutablis, which is a lupin with proteoid roots). Tarwi helps with root nematodes. Very clever!
    In sub-Sahara Africa they grew cowpea, sorghum and corn guilds. The cowpea induces the local witchweed which deters moths that can cause problems. They also use Naper grass to trap moths that are repeled fom the cowpea. Some kind of push-pull companion. Brilliant!
    Not sure about tomatoes though, reckon the Italians world know whats good for them.
     
  5. pippimac

    pippimac Junior Member

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    I'm growing a three sisters guild this season. It's been a really cold summer, so who knows what would happen another year.
    Everything's growing well and considering the amount of prep I did on the bed, it better be!
    I'm not growing quinoa/amaranth, but there's some mighty sunflowers in there, although they're looking a bit tragic after the Januay gales.
    My corn, beans and pumpkins will all be left to dry in situ
    I pulled all my tomato plants after they got late blight, so there's not much in the way of guilds there=(
    I find tomatoes take up so much space that I don't really plant around them, as they always swamp everything. I also mulch the crap outta them, so that limits things a bit.
    That said, I grow ridiculoes amounts of coriander and that seems to handle being squashed.
    I don't purposefully grow it by tomatoes, but buckwheat just pops up everywhere.
     
  6. Try Reason

    Try Reason Junior Member

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    And it gets better! Just when I thought you couldn't stack any more food into that guild... Amazing. Interesting guilds with the Andeans and Sub Saharan Africans too although I wonder how much specific conditions govern the success of these. Does anyone grow witch grass or Tarwi? I'm really impressed by these systems. I'm a bit of an ecology nut but the really interesting part of guilds for me is that unlike the systems I've studied this is an ecosystem built by humans for humans.
     
  7. Try Reason

    Try Reason Junior Member

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    Sorry to hear about your tomatoes pippimac. Must have been pretty sad. Tomatoes are pretty sacred to me. A neighbour killed one of my Wapsipinicon Peaches one year with a stray basketball. It was heavy with green fruit. I mourned over it for a week! I've been inclined to think the same thing in that dry mulching is probably the way to go at least for filling in the nooks and crannies. I just can"t see how sub surface crops would get a look in and pumpkins or kumara wouldn"t get enough sun to ramble through (without going skyward). Blanket basil and/or corriander seems good too. Could use both limitlessly in food although in my climate as soon as spring is done corriander bolts like a spooked horse. Might last a bit longer under the shade of a tomato though.

    Will be looking into the "Milpa" with keen interest. Most of my favourite vegies in there!
     
  8. NJNative

    NJNative Junior Member

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    I've never personally tried it, but I've heard asparagus, basil, and marigold are all good tomato companions. I would look up companion planting charts. Even if some of it is folklore, some of it is likely observably true, or at least worth experimenting with.
     
  9. Try Reason

    Try Reason Junior Member

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    Just a guess but you probably wouldn't want a deep rooted nutrient accumulator such as comfrey competing with the tomato's root system. A nitrogen fixer would want to do it's work before planting too and would only be useful if you were growing it concurrently over more than one season (guessing). A soil pest fighter such as that of certain members of the marigold family would be sensible particularly as they supress the numbers of a pest that is significant to the problem in which tomatoes are required to be rotated through an area cycle of at least three seasons. My problem there is that the nematodes that the marigold supresses doesn't live in my local soil, though another allegedly does which is bad news for tomatoes. One goal I have is to research and find plants that can help out with local soil bugs. Australian plants seem to have an indefinite cease fire in the arms race with their pathogens though. Evolved to the point of "meh".

    Aside from this, rotating crops and anything that provides a non-detrimental living mulch looks the goods. I will look further into asparagus as well as the onoin/garlic/carrot idea.
     
  10. mischief

    mischief Senior Member

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    Hi Try Reason,
    I have my main lot of tomatoes growing next to sunflowers with Pole beans in a row around two and a bit edges of our Kumara patch.
    I did put basil in between every other tom but I still plant things way too close and they arent there any more.
    The idea with the sunflowes was to use them as stakes for the tomatoes and the beans as the ties.
    Its working to some degree but needs tweaking.

    In front of the tom trio I had onions (planted way too late but still got pickling sized ones with bulbs so it wasnt a complete waste).
    Maybe it would have been better to use spring onions sprinkled in with the carrots.
    With these I scattered carrot seed which took ages to come up and planted a row of beetroot amongst these.
    These two seem to be doing well and we have just about eaten all the beets.
    I had chinese cabbages growing between most of the kumara rows, these are now gone except for the ones Im trying to get to go to seed-they keep falling over and disappearing but I have 3 still to hope with.
    Have 3 savoy cabbages off to one side behind the toms to see if there appears to be any adverse reaction to brassicas with toms and so far I see none.

    Also have 1 Blue ridge Kale ( not an heirloom but I didnt see that til I got the seeds and liked the look of them).
    These so far are my favourite and the one I planted is being let go to seed.
    Not sure if it will work with only just one so we'll have to wait and see.
    This is planted between 2 Sub arctic toms, again quite closely.
    The shape of the leaves and the way it grows makes it look like it nestles in nicely.

    With the kumara patch I have let go most of the self sown things although I did feed the chooks in there a couple of times to help stress weeds that looked like they were going to take over.

    I have popped tomatoes in alot of the beds around the garden so I can keep the different types separated all were planted with sunnies and beans but not all have done well-sunnies need to go in first they dont like being under tom leaves at all.
    Two went weird after the gales we had,1 crawling along the ground witht he kumara and the other twists down and around even after being staked upright early in the piece.

    Last year I planted rock melons and watermelons between the rows of tomatoes thinking that they would enjoy alittle dappled light and work as ground cover but that didnt work out.
    1.I didnt religiously stake the toms or prune off the laterals so the melons were swamped.
    2.Melons seem to like full sun not dappled so it would have been better putting maybe NZ Spinach in instead-damn just thought of that, should have tried that this year.

    I havent worried too much about weeding unless it is swamping my pets
     
  11. Dzionik

    Dzionik Junior Member

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    Basil improves taste of tomato but do not tolerate shade so plant around on sunny side. In between tomato parsley (and coriander) do great in semi shade and moist. To get most of space plant onion and garlic sets and pick when young, by then the soil is warm and can be covered with mulch.
     
  12. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    I agree with my NJNative.

    I would add to this : Basil, marigolds, squash, borage, carrots, celery, dill, gooseberry, grape, marjoram, mint, nasturtium, onion, parsley, parsnip, & tansy all work well with Tomatoes.

    Do not plant tomatoes with: Rosemary, cabbages, beets, and fennel.


    Formerly from Exit 70b ;)
     
  13. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    I have to grow tomatoes in greenhouses because of our chilly/foggy summers so I can't rotate them around. Garlic is a real life saver, and they do a root exchange with tomatoes and encourage good bacteria to the soil. This isn't the garlic I harvest in mid summer, this is garlic planted close together that I can pull gently and use the greens, and the white part like a scallion, but I plant the garlic when the tomatoes go in, wrong time of year for garlic planting! So they stay there all season with the tomatoes, and can be thinned out to overwinter (mild winters)

    I also have to do flowers to bring in the pollinators, so I use a local vetch that vines around, I let go to seed and spread those seeds around. Also nasturtiums that are okay with partial shade, borage deters tomato worm. Thistle is good with tomatoes, but it just hurts too much! I make quick batches of thistle tea for the soil. I have real problems with the honey bees being attracted to the thistle tea if left out, and they can drown or just wander around looking like they are on heroin. But putting it on the soil in the greenhouse brings them inside for a day or two.

    I've read that asparagus and tomatoes do well together. Plant tomatoes after the asparagus is let go to ferns. But asparagus should not be planted with garlic.

    Tomatoes will stunt the growth of carrots. And mature dill will stunt the growth of tomatoes.
     
  14. Try Reason

    Try Reason Junior Member

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    Wow. Lots of great advice. Thanks to everyone. Seems that most things from the parsley family or allum family have some sort of beneficial root interaction. I Like the idea of using garlic as a soil 'sanitiser' and I wonder if spring oinions or chives would impart the same benefits as onions.

    I have to say, the best tomatoes I've grown were during a year where I planted basil everywhere. The tomato plants still suffered from some of the typical problems but the fruit was exceptional and the bees loved the basil.

    I like the idea of growing basil on the afternoon sun side and perhaps parsley and corriander between rows (same benefits as carrots?). Perhaps some garlic or spring onions in any vacant space too until the herbs shade it out closer to the ground.
     
  15. Try Reason

    Try Reason Junior Member

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    Noted: Thistle tea is like crack to honey bees.
     
  16. mischief

    mischief Senior Member

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    splutter... what?
     
  17. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    Well, you guys have me interested in trying some basil in with the tomatoes. I haven't before because of the heat in the greenhouse and bolting, but maybe just as a companion and let it bloom sounds like it would be worth it.

    I'm going to focus on interplanting with grapes. I was surprised to see how many things do well with grapes.

    This is a nice chart for companions. It's a little easier to remember what not to put together :)

    https://www.ghorganics.com/page2.html

    Oh, and I've found that plants really dislike lemon balm. it's very aggressive and hard to pull out, reseeds like crazy. and while they recommend it for bugs, some got loose in my garden and the plants actually physically lean away from it and seem to be slowed down. Catnip works a lot better, is easier to control, and gets dozens of little beneficial insects on it once it starts blooming.
     
  18. Try Reason

    Try Reason Junior Member

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    Lol. The bees at sweetpea's place have a substance abuse problem with thistle tea apparently.

    Thanks for the guide sweetpea!
     
  19. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    Sweetpea does live in CA where marijuana is legal for medical purposes. The wasps might have a substance abuse problem with something they find down the road & not just the thistle. ;) :D
     
  20. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    Oh, well, get this -- California says it's legal to grow and sell medical marijuana, but the federal government says it's illegal, so the poor people involved end up in jail, they are harassed all the time. It's crazy. Not to mention, the illegals and now Mexican war lords come up from mexico, grow it in remote National parks, and kill hikers and campers who accidentally get too near them. We spend millions on paramilitary raids on these guys. All because they won't make it legal and controlled.

    What we need to get smart about in Calif is industrial hemp for rope, food, etc., which is one of the most important crops humanity could plant. It's still illegal despite every scientific study that says even if you smoked a field of it you couldn't get high. So ignorant here.

    I'll confess just how bad the honey bee/thistle thing got. The first time I made it in an open garbage can and they wouldn't leave, they wandered in circles for hours. So I made it again in a plastic garbage can with a tight lid, and somehow they found their way in there, they had to have squeezed through a very small space around the lid, at least a hundred of them, and they died, the temps were high, they didn't remember how to get back out. When I took off the lid I was shocked and felt so awful! :( So I make it and use it as fast as I can.

    It's never wasps or hornets or flies. Only honey bees.
     

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