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Old 01-14-2013, 03:49 PM   #1
uberg33k
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Default Co-planting with hops for pest control

Hi all!

I'm wondering if anyone has any experience with co-planting crops with hops. I'm mainly interested in it for pest control. I've read citronella, garlic, catnip, lavender, and marigolds might work, but I haven't seen anything specific to the effectiveness of them with hop pests. Last year I mostly had issues with caterpillars and to a lesser extent aphids. My hops are in containers in order to keep them from completely running wild and I'd be planting the helper plants directly in the ground around the base of the container.

Thanks in advance for any advice!

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Old 01-14-2013, 04:36 PM   #2
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I grow cilantro with my hops early in the season. They like it cool, though, so I usually get the seeds planted in February or March (in Socal). The grow tall and set flowers that attract a lot of predatory wasps for when the hops are younger and more vulnerable. Plus, the seeds are great in cooking and in summer saisons or wheat beers--definitely my favorite companion plant for hops. Their roots don't compete much with the hops either. I'd be hesitant to plant a perennial like lavender with my hops but a nearby container/pot, or at the base, as you mentioned, could work out nicely.

You also might want to consider nasturtiums at the base of your planters but note that they do spread. They deter pests and are edible, plus,m they don't require much water or inputs. Their roots are pretty shallow, too, and the summer heat will usually kill them off.

In the heat of summer, strong herbs like basil deter some pests. Or, for caterpillars, you can plant trap plants that they like better (for instance swallowtail butterfly caterpillars love dill).

I have grown giant marigolds during summer time to harvest with my hops, too, and would do that again.

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Old 01-17-2013, 02:40 PM   #3
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Could we not hijack this thread?

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Old 03-27-2013, 06:52 PM   #4
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The most effective way to control pests is to develop an environment where there are a lot of colors, textures, and layers of vegetation.

Hops grown traditionally are unfortunately going to stick out because of their size relative to everything else. Yours being in pots doesn't help either.
Maybe growing sunflowers and sunchokes might help. Being tall themselves, they might confuse the pests. Beans, squash, and melons are actually climbers too. They can reach 10ft in the air if you let them and they would provide great pest cover.

Another technique for pest control is to provide environments for predators.
Insect Hotels work well: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insect_hotel
Places for birds to sit, somewhere for predators to access water, that sort of thing too.

I had some hops escape on me and grew up a tree. It was actually very healthy and pest free. It also produced a load of cones.
Harvesting was a bit challenging though :-)

Come to think of it, if you did it with a bit of planning, you could create a vertical garden growing hops, sunflowers, pumpkin, cucumber, watermelon, beans, and peas in a very compact space.

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Old 03-27-2013, 08:05 PM   #5
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I am going to plant marigolds, nasturtiums, and borage this year. We'll see if it helps any.

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Old 03-28-2013, 02:25 PM   #6
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I saw you mention catnip.
Personally I would stay away from any of the mint family. They have a tendency to be invasive. I have one flower bed that has been overran with catnip. No matter how much pulling I do they still seem to come back.

I like to use marigolds in my planting beds and around my garden for companion plants. Easy to grow and seeds are easy to harvest for an endless supply of future plants.

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Old 03-28-2013, 02:32 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Farside View Post
The most effective way to control pests is to develop an environment where there are a lot of colors, textures, and layers of vegetation.

Hops grown traditionally are unfortunately going to stick out because of their size relative to everything else. Yours being in pots doesn't help either.
Maybe growing sunflowers and sunchokes might help. Being tall themselves, they might confuse the pests. Beans, squash, and melons are actually climbers too. They can reach 10ft in the air if you let them and they would provide great pest cover.

Another technique for pest control is to provide environments for predators.
Insect Hotels work well: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insect_hotel
Places for birds to sit, somewhere for predators to access water, that sort of thing too.

I had some hops escape on me and grew up a tree. It was actually very healthy and pest free. It also produced a load of cones.
Harvesting was a bit challenging though :-)

Come to think of it, if you did it with a bit of planning, you could create a vertical garden growing hops, sunflowers, pumpkin, cucumber, watermelon, beans, and peas in a very compact space.
I'm not sure I could get away with planting beans and squash with the homeowners restrictions in my neighborhood, but that's a neat twist on the "three sisters" idea. Otherwise, I'd go full bore permaculture on my yard if they'd let me. The only reason I'm getting away with hops now is because the way I'm training them makes them look like a topiary. However, if you have some kind of planning resources for the vertical garden idea, I would love to look over them!

Sunflowers might work as a decoy plant and would certainly make the wife happy. Nasturtiums (mentioned by mthompson) are also a good plan. I've recently hung a bird feeder and I'm trying to figure out how to make the side of my house pass neighborhood standards and still attract insect predators.

I have considered planting clover in the pot with the hops to act as a bit of a nitrogen fixer and green soil cover. Think that would help the hops?
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