Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Chamomile as a Companion Plant

Since I originally sowed my first chamomile seed here at Oak House about 3 or 4 years ago, I've had an ever increasing supply of self-seeded plants popping up all over the place. This is great, because they're don't just make lovely tea, they also make good companion plants to all kinds of things.

I grow them in amongst my vegetables. They attract hover flies, which eat aphids, so they're good with anything that gets aphids (greenfly, blackfly, whitefly..). For me, that includes brassicas, tomatoes, beans, roses and lupins.

Some people say chamomile is a good general companion plant with pretty much anything and that it improves their flavour and health.

One particular health benefit quoted about chamomile as far back as Ancient Egyptian times is that it can be used as an anti-fungal treatment. As such, I'm hoping it will do something to cure my gooseberries of their mildew.

As a first step, I've transplanted some of my many young chamomile plants over into the ground around two of my gooseberries. You can see the tiny plant in the photo below tucked into a gap in my comfrey mulch.

I'm not sure whether this will be enough, or whether a chamomile mulch or chamomile tea would be needed for it to take effect. So I'll run a little experiment - I've left two gooseberry bushes with no chamomile at all, I'll leave one of the bushes with just the chamomile plants growing around it and I'll treat the last one with chamomile plants, mulch and tea. And I'll let you know how it goes!

Does anyone else have any experience with this? Do you know of any other uses for chamomile around the garden?

6 comments:

  1. How interesting Chamomile is now on my list for next year

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  2. It is so strange...I am working on a post about companion planting for later this week. I have used chamomile as a companion plant to cabbage and onions. I have also used it as pest deterrent. It is supposedly as good as pyrethrum. Great post!

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  3. I grow it in the veggie garden too...and I love home grown chamomile tea! Hope I get lots of self sown ones in the spring...I will be moving to more of the veggie beds. I will be interested to see how your experiment goes.

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  4. I'd never heard of using chamomile for companion planting, but I will certainly try growing some for next year, so pretty, and useful too. Hard to beat! My comfrey is still too young to cut for mulch, but lovely to see you using it as I plan to.

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  5. How did your experiment turn out? Was there any discernible difference between plants? I am researching chamomile's role in the garden, and found your blog interesting.

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  6. Difficult to say Lizard - unfortunately, this experiment wasn't brilliantly well set up. The gooseberry bushes with chamomile were definitely more mildew free than the others, but I had also moved them to a more exposed site, so they are now getting better air flow around them, which is good for getting rid of mildew too. Difficult to tell which had the bigger effect - the chamomile or the air flow. I'll be trying this again though, as I'm really curious to know how effective chamomile would be for this purpose.

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