Published on October 24th, 2013 | by Guest Contributor4
20 Edible Companion Plants for Black Walnuts
Let me introduce you to the glorious and hated Black Walnut. During the fall black walnuts start dropping from the trees; it’s a time of year when some of us think of wearing hard hats when walking around! These beautiful trees create large green balls that are as hard as rocks and a famous for their strong, unique smell. TIP – don’t pick one up before walking into the office! The smell of the black walnut lingers like dirty socks, yet for some of us it is an integral memory that defines this season as much as colored falling leaves.
Besides the lingering scent of the black walnut, the tree itself exudes a chemical called juglone into the soil through its roots, from its falling leaves, and from the nuts outer green covering that quickly decays with rain, leaving a black pulpy mess. In permaculture there are many sayings that designers will refer to in conversation with other “permies.” A saying that is useful in the case of the Black Walnut tree is: “The problem is the solution.”
You see, juglone hinders the growing of nearly EVERYTHING that most people consider as necessary in producing food. It is necessary to step back, then question our own assumptions of gardening and food production– and find how the problem is the solution. In this case it is our definition of “food” or “garden” that should be questioned. Although few typical annual food plants will grow in a location where a black walnut’s juglone has touched, there are perennial plants that WILL grow in these conditions.
20 companion plants for black walnuts:
- Black raspberry
- Pawpaw (aka Indiana banana)
- Ostrich fern
- Hickories (which exude a lesser amount of juglone)
- Wild ginger
- Persimmon (American)
- Service berry
- American plum
- Wild Rose
- May apple
- Solomon’s seal
The above list of 20 plants that tolerate juglone include edibles and medicinal plants. Most of these plants are native, and with a bit of sheet mulching to condition the soil, the area around a black walnut can be transformed into a native forest garden providing woodland food for three of four seasons. Other benefits to this type of garden include no more mowing saving time and money, greater drought tolerance, and creating wildlife habitat. Should you not wish to harvest any of the fruits, roots, shoots or flowers of these plants, the existing wildlife will clean everything up for you! But be assured, I have eaten most of the plants on this list… although I still have to eat a hosta lasagna! Bon Appetite!
Do you know of any other edible or medicinal plants that tolerant to juglone? Please feel free to share in the comments section below.