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Old 02-22-2009, 05:37 PM   #51
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Great info, theLorax. It's giving me a headache, though. For example I regularly use nasturtiums in my vegetable garden as a bug repellent, they look purty and they taste good. They are an annual here in VA. scratching head, this is getting more complicated by the minute, but I will persist!!!
I fight with this issue also, DocCat. Both nasturtiums and marigold. Plus only a very few of the veggies I plant are native. I know most of us look at that differently, but last summer I started wondering why it was so different (didn't stop me from planting my tomatoes, though). At any rate, as long as you're eating the nasturtiums, I'd suggest considering them veggies and not worrying about them unless you decide to try an all-native diet.

Which leaves me with my marigold problem...
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Old 02-22-2009, 08:29 PM   #52
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Just because a plant is introduced doesn't make it an invasive species. Granted some of the species in that mix are ecologically horrible but that doesn't mean any of the non-native veggies we grow are invasive. Non-native does not = invasive. There's absolutely nothing wrong with planting non-natives to feed yourself. Sure there are those who would argue that locally native diets are the best and we may very well learn that to be true but don't beat yourself up over non-native fruits and vegetables. That introduced tomato has substantially improved the quality of human life. You can't say that for Nasturtium.
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Old 02-23-2009, 12:08 AM   #53
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But so far, I've found natives hard to obtain, often expensive, and not necessarily fast or easy to grow. So many are perennials, and require stratification. Would they be suitable for a beginner's mix?

Native plants aren't fast...they spend their first year being short and putting out really deep root systems. And yes, they are slightly more expensive than their non-native competeing seed mixes. However...I planted a 500 sq. foot mixed height prairie for $32 dollars, courtesy of Prairie Moon Nursery. Is that expensive?

You aren't going to have instant gratification. Patience is required. It takes years to establish a prairie, and there will be some work involved.
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Old 02-23-2009, 12:21 AM   #54
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Master Gardeners are the bane of my existance. The ones in my area recommend planting non-native invasive plants like barberry(Berberis thunbergeii), burning bush(Euonymus alata), and English Ivy(Hedera helix). Gak.
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Old 02-23-2009, 12:42 AM   #55
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I checked after you posted. Those Master Gardeners are still recommending those plants. How many complaints have they received? Not all MGs are that misguided.
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Old 02-23-2009, 08:06 AM   #56
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Equilibrium, you got me thinking through just how I feel about the whole issue of food crops. Please don't take my replies to parts of your post as argumentative or as trying to put words in your mouth, because I know I'm saying some things you'd agree with (and probably some you wouldn't) below. You just inspired me to work out my own thoughts a little more, that's all.

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Just because a plant is introduced doesn't make it an invasive species. Granted some of the species in that mix are ecologically horrible but that doesn't mean any of the non-native veggies we grow are invasive. Non-native does not = invasive.
Oh, I know that non-native doesn't equal invasive, fortunately. Hopefully none of the veggies we grow are invasive, and hopefully none will get to be that way later. Some of our food-type crops do get out of hand; I can show you half a pasture of spearmint someone probably planted here years ago. It's not even entirely an annual; I picked some out of the spring last week to put in a dish. Now, of course mint is an unusual example, but I'm sure no one who planted mint years ago expected it to be taking over pastures and streams. Doesn't keep me from planting my veggies, but it does keep me mindful of what I'm doing and watchful for what may come up next year, unexpectedly.

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That introduced tomato has substantially improved the quality of human life.
I believe that to be true, and I do plant tomatoes. But I'm not comfortable using "has substantially improved the quality of human life," without qualification, as an argument for doing things. I think it's essential to look for a lack of substantial harm elsewhere, too (and yes, I know you can't absolutely prove a negative; due caution is what I mean, and mindfulness that we're not alone on this planet, at least not yet). I think we have that "lack of harm" pretty well proved with the tomatoes, perhaps even the new hybrids which I won't grow. But it was a fortunate accident that tomatoes don't hurt anything; we need to try to avoid harm on purpose from here on out.

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You can't say that for Nasturtium.
So with all that in mind, please educate me before I plant this spring. Are nasturtiums invasive? And for that matter, what about my mongrel marigolds? I've used both as companion plants (not so successfully this last year with the nasturtiums, which refused to come up in the drought).

Last edited by JennyC; 02-23-2009 at 08:07 AM. Reason: fixed a messed-up quote
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Old 02-23-2009, 10:14 AM   #57
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Zen macrobiotics is one dietary regimen that recognizes staying within foods raised in a certain evolutionary pattern.

http://macrobiotics.co.uk/foodlist.htm

QUOTED:

Our diet should reflect human tradition.
Until modern times, unrefined, naturally produced whole cereal grains and their products comprised humanity's primary food world-wide, while locally grown seasonal vegetables and their products comprised the most important secondary foods.

In order to maintain our human evolutionary status, our diets should continue to reflect this traditional pattern. We need to return to the "staff of life" - whole grains.

Our diet should be ecologically based.
As much as possible, the foods which comprise the mainstay of our diet should be grown in the same area in which we live. When we begin to consume food imported from different climate regions, we begin to lose adaptability to the immediate surroundings. This imbalance often leads to the development of sickness, manifesting either physically, mentally, or both.
This is especially true in cases where tropical or semitropical products (including sugar, pineapples, citrus fruit, bananas, spices, coffee and other yin products) are consumed in the temperate climates of North America. Also, serious sickness can result from the over-consumption of heavy animal food by those in a warmer or temperate climate, since this quality of food is more suited to the polar regions.

Ideally, foods should be chosen from within a 300 to 500 mile radius of our home area; however, if this is not possible, the next best choice of foods are those produced in areas with climates similar to our own (US climate) such as Europe or Japan.

Our diet should reflect seasonal changesAs naturally as the seasons change, our diets should reflect those differences in climate through the selection and preparation of our daily meals. For example, in colder seasons we would apply longer cooking times and more salt; in warmer weather, we would use lighter cooking methods and less salt.
As much as possible, we should always try to base our diet on those products such as cereal grains, beans, sea vegetables and other staples which are naturally available and storable without refrigeration throughout the year.

Our diet should reflect individual differences When selecting and preparing our foods, individual differences also need to be considered, with variations made according to age, sex, amount and type of activity, occupation, original constitution, previous eating patterns, personal desire, and social environment.

END QUOTE

i.e. eating "like an eskimo" or an "Andaman Islander" can make you sick if you don't live in those ecological areas.
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Old 02-23-2009, 10:44 AM   #58
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Default Mentha spicata, Tropaeolum majus, Tagetes minuta

I would agree with virtually all that hazelnut typed above.

JennyC, I have worked with some of the species you have reservations about. I agree wholeheartedly with the following-
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but I'm sure no one who planted mint years ago expected it to be taking over pastures and streams.

Quote:
we need to try to avoid harm on purpose from here on out.
Spearmint isn’t a food crop. Mentha spicata was introduced for use as a flavoring and more recently to use as an herbal remedy. Mentha spicata is formally identified as being invasive. The Tropaeolum majus is a more recent introduction from our nursery industry. It’s not formally identified as being invasive as of yet however it is documented as having naturalized in 7 states.

Those mongrel marigolds are a byproduct of documented invasives hybridizing. Have you ever heard the term hybrid vigor? The parentage of mongrel marigolds is probably Tagetes minuta (South American Marigold), T. patula, (French Marigold), and/or T. erecta (Aztec/Mexican Marigold). They’re not food crops although some people do eat them as a condiment. Mostly they are promoted by gardeners and those selling them as insect repellants. In the past I have tried to locate scientific research documenting its ability to deter insects but couldn’t find any. I attempted to search for marigold + pest and frequently came up with the marigold being the pest. There does exist some evidence that T. minuta can help control some nematodes. A patent for a formulation containing concentrated extracts from T. minuta was applied for in the 80’s however I don’t know what became of that. Based on the lack of scientific evidence that they can effectively deter insects, I’d classify them as a weedy ornamental well capable of escaping cultivation and becoming a botanical bully. There are others who evidently can’t find any scientific evidence that marigolds deter pests. They’re upfront about it but counter the lack of evidence with these types of comments-
http://www.veggiegardeningtips.com/marigolds-just-a-pretty-flower-or-much-more/
Quote:
On the other hand adding variety to the garden is always a good thing! Growing marigolds can’t do any harm and who knows, maybe there is something to the folklore and reputation that they have earned in certain gardening circles.

She continues by offering this as the best reason to grow marigolds-
Quote:
So get your marigold seeds or seedlings and plant away… at the very least their flowers will add variety and bright colors to dress up your vegetable garden. Grow them because you enjoy them; and if they should happen to reduce harmful insect populations or attract beneficial bugs, that will be an extra and welcomed bonus!
I’ve got to toss this is which is based on what little research is out there. The article is titled ‘Dispelling Marigold Myths’ and as you can guess it is not all that popular-
http://www.aces.edu/dept/extcomm/specialty/marigolds.html
Quote:
When the right combination of marigold and nematodes species does exist, visible results can take up to four months to appear. During this time, if the marigolds are planted around or intermingled with your vegetable or ornamental plants, they can act as weeds, competing for water and essential nutrients and causing additional stress for the plants. Also, the marigolds don't draw nematodes away from the other plants, so the plants still run the risk of nematode infestation and damage. The greatest disadvantage to using marigolds is they attract large populations of spider mites to many gardens and landscapes.

If you enjoy growing marigolds, French dwarf varieties have shown the most consistent control (of nematodes, not insects!). Plant these marigolds in an infested garden and maintain a solid stand for three to four months to reduce nematodes. After the appropriate amount of time, plow the plants under as green manure. The nematode population should be decreased and the garden ready for planting. Be sure to keep the garden weed-free until planting time.

Rather than relying too heavily upon marigolds, a better approach to insect control is to use a combination of techniques. Most importantly, know the pests in your area and their plant preferences.

Also, remember that not all insects are bad! Identify beneficial insects and encourage these populations rather than destroying them. When buying plants for your garden, select varieties resistant to pests. Certain plants actually do repel insects; these plants should be intermingled with their more susceptible companions.

On the other hand, some insects choose to feed on one plant as opposed to another. Mix these plants with their less susceptible companions (your desirable crop)! Keep the garden weed- and debris-free. This will remove potential shelter for pests and ensure a healthier environment for plant growth.
Would I plant nasturtiums or marigolds? No. Not even if the specific nematodes marigolds can help deter were present in my soil. The odds of me remembering to dead head the plant or plowing them under to use as green manure are slim to none. There are other ornamentals that I find considerably more attractive in a garden setting that are not weedy. The cons outweigh the few pros with many herbs.
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Last edited by TheLorax; 11-29-2009 at 10:28 PM.
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Old 02-23-2009, 11:36 AM   #59
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I don't find the reference just now, but what I understand is the best way to use marigolds in nematode control is to use them as a cover crop the year before. As in this statement from Lorax's quote above:

QUOTED:

French dwarf varieties have shown the most consistent control (of nematodes, not insects!). Plant these marigolds in an infested garden and maintain a solid stand for three to four months to reduce nematodes. After the appropriate amount of time, plow the plants under as green manure. The nematode population should be decreased and the garden ready for planting.
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Old 02-23-2009, 11:37 AM   #60
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I plant both marigolds and nasturtiums in and around my veggie garden regularly. They are annuals here in VA and do work quite well as both bug repellent, nasties are yummy and they are food for the soul as well. You need to pick marigolds that smell, many of the newer hybrids have no scent. So no that's not going to repel pests. Like duh! Some of these so called "experts" make me wonder just how much hands on experience they have or is it straight out of the book, sigh.
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