Permaculturing in Portugal

One family's attempts to live in a more planet-friendly way

Companion planting update

In a previous post, I described what happened with my inadvertent experiment with lovage (Levisticum officinale) as a companion plant. We found that the broccoli planted around it grew twice the size of other nearby broccoli plants.

However, although this is still true – the broccoli plants are still twice the size of the other broccoli plants – all of them have yet to produce any flower heads. We have been harvesting broccoli from the other plants for about 3 weeks now and all are setting good heads. But not one from the plants surrounding the lovage, except for the single plant outside the immediate circle which also failed to grow to the size of the others.

Lovage surrounded by broccoli

This would seem to suggest lovage supports strong vegetative growth, but inhibits flowering. If this is so, it might explain the diametrically opposing recommendations for using it as a companion plant.

To test whether this is the case with plants other than brassicas, next year I will be trying things like swiss or rainbow chard, lettuces, coriander and rocket around the lovage. All of these are plants grown for their leaves and all have a tendency to run to seed: almost immediately in the case of rocket and coriander, by June in the case of the lettuce, and the chard once it’s in its second year.

Update to the update

October 10th: A month later and still no sign of flowering in the immediate circle surrounding the lovage. The plants just outside this circle have now flowered, but not one of the immediate circle shows any sign at all, though they continue to put on more leaves.

Lovage surrounded by broccoli

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  1. Hugh September 13, 2011

    Interesting stuff. This is the sort of behaviour I might expect if the ground is rich in nitrogen (supports lots of leafy growth at the expense of flowering). Did you fertilise the lovage in any way? Are there any nitrogen-fixing plants nearby?

  2. Quinta do Vale September 13, 2011

    Thanks for your comments Hugh. The broccoli surrounding the lovage have no significantly different variables from the other flowering broccoli plants nearby. Ground has the same treatment (compost and mulch) and aspect, sun exposure, watering, etc, are consistent. There’s white clover here and there, but not near the plants in question. Lovage got no special treatment – see the earlier post on the subject.

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