Sunday, November 12, 2023

12 Songs You Didn’t Know Julia Michaels Co-Wrote


You may recognize Julia Michaels from her breakout single “Issues,” which peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100, or the rock-tinged “Uh Huh,” another track included on her 2017 debut “mini-album” Nervous System. But chances are, you’ve been listening to the 26-year-old’s catchy, emotive, and often tongue-in-cheek lyricism for longer than you think.

Michaels began her music career as a songwriter, penning hits for the likes of Fifth Harmony, Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez. And her co-writing catalog spans a range of diverse artists and genres, from pop radio material to rugged acoustic sounds and rock.

Billboard has rounded up 12 songs you probably didn’t realize are co-written by Michaels.

1. Selena Gomez – “Bad Liar”

Michaels contributed her writing chops to Gomez’s chart-climbing “Bad Liar,” a minimal, Talking Heads-lifting track in the vein of her own single “Issues.” It wouldn’t be the first time they’d join forces in the studio — Michaels co-wrote six songs off Gomez’s Revival, including “Good For You” and “Hands To Myself,” alongside songwriting veteran Justin Tranter, as well as three cuts on Gomez’s 2020 album Rare, but more on that later.

2. Justin Bieber – “Sorry”

Yep, if you’ve ever jammed out to Bieber’s absurdly catchy Purpose smash hit “Sorry,” Michaels is the one to thank. “We thought the chances of getting on Justin’s album were so slim but we were just like ‘F–k it, let’s do it,'” writes Michaels in the track’s official annotated lyrics on Genius. “We were just trying to capture that moment in a relationship, or a particular moment in your life, where you realize you made a mistake and you’re finally ready to admit it and apologize.” It worked — “Sorry” is one of Michaels’ most successful songwriting credits to date, notching 42 weeks on the Hot 100 and peaking at No. 1.

3. Ed Sheeran – “Dive”

Michaels joined Benny Blanco to pen this rugged, guitar-led track off Ed Sheeran‘s Divide album, and her influence is clear in the track’s vulnerable, witty lyricism, as Sheeran croons about an indecisive lover.

4. Linkin Park – “Heavy”

On the rock front, Michaels had a hand in Linkin Park‘s “Heavy,” released prior to frontman Chester Bennington‘s shocking suicide in July 2017. The Kiiara-featuring track, released in February 2017, reached No. 2 on the Hot Rock Songs chart. But Michaels told Billboard she has a “hard time listening” to the track after Bennington’s passing. “He came in and was really funny and really warm, and had the biggest smile on his face,” Michaels recalled of working on “Heavy” with the cherished singer-songwriter. “He was just cracking jokes and having the best time.”

5. Gwen Stefani – “Used To Love You”

Michaels played a major role in Gwen Stefani‘s third studio album, This Is What the Truth Feels Like, co-writing a whopping 10 of the album’s 12 total songs. Among them was the album’s first official single, the emotional break-up track “Used To Love You,” which Michaels told Genius she put together after scanning Stefani’s diary for inspiration. Michaels also wrote the pop gem “Misery” for the album which, despite its title, is a bright, bubbly jam that muses on the beginnings of new love.

6. Fifth Harmony – “Miss Movin’ On”

Fifth Harmony’s debut single? Yep, Michaels’ fingerprints are all over that, too. The track, which Michaels wrote in collaboration with longtime songwriting partner Lindy Robbins, broke the Billboard Hot 100 and brought listeners some characteristically cheeky Michaels lyrics (“shake it off like an etch-a-sketch” being one). In 2016, Michaels also helped pen the group’s Fetty Wap-featuring track “All In My Head.”

7. Britney Spears feat. Tinashe – “Slumber Party”

Writing lyrics for an artist as iconic as Britney Spears is likely a bucket list item for any songwriter. Michaels checked it off with “Slumber Party,” a track she co-wrote for Spears and R&B singer-songwriter Tinashe, who is featured on the track. Released as a single off Spears’ ninth studio album Glory in 2016, the track peaked at No. 1 on the Dance Club Songs charts.

8. Kelly Clarkson – “War Paint”

Back in 2015, Michaels linked up with Kelly Clarkson to co-write her Piece By Piece track “War Paint.” And while a country-pop star might seem to stick out among the other artists in Michaels’ catalog, the track about opening up to a significant other has all the depth and pop charm of a Michaels song –– “Face to face, but miles away / Building trenches out of empty spaces / Lay here, next to me / And close the distance in between,” runs the emotive first verse.

9. Nick Jonas feat. Tove Lo – “Close”

Another of Michaels’ most successful co-writes, Nick Jonas‘ deeply personal duet “Close” with Swedish singer Tove Lo notched No. 14 on the Hot 100. Michaels also offered lyrical assistance on Jonas’ “Chainsaw,” off the same album, 2016’s Last Year Was Complicated.

10. Demi Lovato – “Fire Starter”

Let’s throw it back to the 2013 Demi track “Fire Starter.” This empowering song was one of the first songs Michaels co-wrote with notable songwriter Lindy Robbins, who helped kick-star Michaels’ career by introducing her to others in the industry. Never mind that Michaels was barely 20 years old at the time.

11. Selena Gomez – “Lose You To Love Me”

By the time Gomez released her third solo studio album Rare, she and Michaels were good friends — and frequent collaborators. Michaels boasts three co-writing credits on the Billboard 200-topping album: for “Fun,” “Look at Her Now” and the single “Lose You to Love Me” — which just so happened to become Gomez’s first Hot 100 No. 1!

12. Dua Lipa – “Pretty Please”

Once again, Michaels was recruited by a pop superstar to contribute her expertise. Co-written with Dua Lipa, Caroline Ailin and Ian Kirkpatrick, “Pretty Please” appears on Lipa’s almost universally-beloved second studio album Future Nostalgia.



Saturday, August 12, 2023

12 Handy Things To Have In Your Car


1. Basic First Aid Kit

2. Jumper Cables

3. Duct Tape and zip ties

4. A Big Bottle of Tap Water

5. Spare Fuses or Bulbs

6. Umbrella

7. Hydraulic Floor Jack

8. Old Flat Cardboard

9. Flashlight

10. Multi-tool

11. Tire Gauge

12. Cleaning Cloth


Wednesday, July 12, 2023

12 Random Facts About Manila

1. ‘Secret’ underground tunnels

Fort Bonifacio Underground Tunnel

Manila’s busiest commercial districts are clear reminders of the city’s modernity. Anyone who frequents these places would always expect to see towering skyscrapers, condominiums, and posh boutiques.

In January 2011, the crew of Manila Water discovered a tunnel during one of their digging operations at the Epifanio delos Santos Avenue (EDSA)-Guadalupe area. Although few details have been revealed about the said man-made tunnel, it is reportedly located 3.5 meters below the street level and is wide enough to fit several dump trucks.

The Fort Bonifacio Tunnel, on the other hand, has a more interesting history to share. Located near Megaworld, the tunnel is about 2.24 km long and 4 meters wide. It is equipped with 32 built-in chambers, a 6-meter-deep well, and 2 exits leading to Brgy. East Rembo and Brgy. Pembo in Makati City.

There are four entrances to the tunnel that currently exist: The first is across C5 (near Market! Market!) while the other one is found on East Rembo.

The third entrance can be found at Amapola Street, although it has been closed to give way to the construction of a new house. The fourth entrance is open and is found on Morning Glory Street.

Although some say that the tunnel was built under the order of General Douglas MacArthur in 1942, historical accounts show that it was constructed much earlier. Retired Brig. Gen. Restituto Aguilar, also the former director of the Philippine Army Museum, said that the construction of the tunnel started in the early 1900s through the efforts of the Igorot miners from the Cordillera.

The tunnel was initially used as an “underground highway” which helped transport food, medicines, and other military supplies to Fort McKinley (now Fort Bonifacio). It was then expanded in 1936 to serve as Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s headquarters and storage room for military supplies.

When the WWII broke out, the Japanese destroyed Fort McKinley and renamed it “Sakura Heiei”. The tunnel, on the other hand, served as a temporary shelter of high-ranking Japanese military officials, including Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita.

After the war, the tunnel was turned over to the Philippine government. Fort McKinley was renamed Fort Andres Bonifacio and became a Central Business District in 1994. The underground tunnel was eventually closed in 1995 and since then, most Filipinos have forgotten that such historical treasure exists.

In 2012, Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) disclosed their plans of developing the Fort Bonifacio Tunnel into a historic site to help protect its legacy.

2. The height of Quezon Memorial Shrine’s three vertical pylons was based on President Quezon’s age when he died

The Quezon Memorial Circle houses the museum, shrine, and the remains of former President Manuel L. Quezon as well as First Lady Aurora Quezon.

Modeled after Napoleon Bonaparte’s catafalque in Les Invalides, France, the Quezon Memorial Shrine was the brainchild of Federico Ilustre, an architect who bested other finalists to create the monument’s final design.

The monument has three vertical pylons symbolizing Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. They measure 66 meters in height, based on President Quezon’s age when he died on August 1, 1944. There are also three angels holding Sampaguita wreaths on top which were created by Italian sculptor Monti.

Construction of the Quezon Memorial Shrine started in the 1950s but was only completed in 1978 due to several factors like lack of funds and the difficulty of importing Carrara marble which came in blocks and was carved on site.

On August 19, 1979, President Quezon’s remains were transferred from Manila North Cemetery to the Quezon Memorial Circle. In the same year, President Ferdinand Marcos declared the site as a National Shrine.

3. General Douglas MacArthur served as Manila Hotel’s “General Manager.”

Established on July 4, 1912, the Manila Hotel witnessed several landmark events and became home to some of the most important people in Philippine history–including Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

In 1935, MacArthur was commissioned by President Quezon to help build the Philippine army and serve as Military Advisor of the Commonwealth. From 1935 to 1941, MacArthur stayed in the Manila Hotel together with his wife Jean and son Arthur.

Before they arrived in the Philippines, President Quezon hired architect Andres Luna de San Pedro, son of famous painter Juan Luna, to build a seven-room penthouse in Manila Hotel. MacArthur lived a life of luxury and fully enjoyed his favorite food at the hotel: Native lapu-lapu wrapped in banana leaves. 

The cost of MacArthur’s suite eventually drained the hotel’s budget and Quezon, upon receiving the bill, called Mayor Jorge Vargas to settle the problem.

To handle the cost, it was decided to give MacArthur the honorary title of “General Manager”. Although he was considered a figurehead, MacArthur ignored his status and still took charge of hotel management.

4. Harrison Plaza and other areas in Manila used to be cemeteries

Thanks to modernization, some sacred burial grounds had to be wiped out to give way to commercial buildings. Such is the case with an old cemetery located southwest of an area once known as Fort San Antonio Abad in Malate, Manila. The area is now occupied by the Harrison Plaza, also known as the country’s first modern mall.

But Harrison Plaza is not the only one that lies above former burial grounds. Another area in Malate, the Remedios Circle, was actually one of Manila’s earliest cemeteries. However, it closed down after WWII, and all the remains were transferred to the South Cemetery.

The incident happened after the Catholic Church agreed to surrender the cemetery to the government in exchange of a road leading to a new church across the Manila Zoo.

Another former cemetery is the Espiritu Santo Parish Church in Sta. Cruz, Manila. It is known as the first church in the country dedicated to the Holy Spirit. It used to be a simple place of worship in the middle of Sta. Cruz Cemetery.

The area around the cemetery was eventually converted into the Parish of Espiritu Santo by the  La Liga del Espiritu Santo led by Florentino Torres, Supreme Court’s first associate justice. The small chapel within the cemetery, on the other hand, was built into a bigger church in 1926.

5. Tomas Claudio Boulevard in Malate was named after the ONLY Filipino casualty of the First World War

Born on May 7, 1892, Tomas Mateo Claudio was originally from Morong Rizal. He was hired by the Bureau of Prisons as a guard but was fired shortly after he was caught sleeping during working hours. He then moved to the US where he got a job at a sugar plantation in Hawaii, and later as a salmon canner at Alaska.

Eventually, he got a chance to study commerce at a college in Nevada. After graduation, Claudio worked at a local Post Office as a clerk.

Claudio, already a Filipino-American, then decided to enlist himself in the U.S. Army. He was one of the members of the American Expeditionary Force to France who was sent to fight against the Germans during World War I.

Unfortunately, he died in the battle on June 29, 1918, making him the first Fil-Am war hero and also the only Filipino casualty of WWI.

To honor his bravery, the Pvt. Tomas Claudio Post 1063 Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. was established in 1923 by a group of Fil-Am veterans of WWI. A college, a street, and a bridge in the Philippines were also named after him to honor his contributions.

6. Felix R. Hidalgo Street in Quiapo was once considered “the most beautiful street in Manila.”

Named after the famous 19th-century Filipino painter, Felix R. Hidalgo Street in Quiapo, Manila is known for connecting two churches: the San Sebastian Basilica and the Basilica of Quiapo.

Although it is now filled with illegal settlers, dilapidated houses, and commercial establishments,  R. Hidalgo Street was not like this centuries ago. In fact, it was called “the most beautiful street in Manila” in 1817, mainly because of the grand mansions that once stood in the area.

Formerly known as San Sebastian Street, the R. Hidalgo Street was once home to upper and middle-class families during the Spanish era. According to Dr. Fernando Nakpil Zialcita, an anthropology professor who studied Manila’s historical streets, the thoroughfare was a preferred location because it was near schools, churches, the MalacaƱang, and several recreational centers on Rizal Avenue.

Unfortunately, the once celebrated street started to decline during the 1960s.

7. The British invaded and ruled Manila for two years (1762-1764)

The two-year British invasion of Manila was one of the consequences of the Seven Years War (1756-1763) which pitted the British against France and its allies—including Spain.

Although the war was mainly fought in Europe, it also reached the colonies of the involved countries. At that time, the British had already established the East India Company which saw the conflict as an opportune time to invade the Philippines.

The British army arrived in the Philippine Archipelago on September 23, 1762, with 15 ships and more than 6,000 troops led by Brigadier General William Draper and Rear-Admiral Samuel Cornish.

The news about the invasion already reached Archbishop Miguel Rojo, then acting Governor-General, the day before. As a result, Manila was put in state of defense. However, the British fleet successfully arrived in Manila Bay and plans of a widespread attack in Manila were made afterward.

The British army eventually captured the fort of Polverista, but the subsequent murder of their soldiers by the Spaniards forced Brig. Gen. Draper to send a threatening letter to Archbishop Rojo. The latter responded with a letter of apology along with a request to release Antonio Tagle, the Archbishop’s nephew who had been captured.

The British agreed to free Tagle, but he was murdered, along with British Lieutenant Fryar, upon arrival.

The incident infuriated the British even more, and they started to destroy Intramuros the following day. The bombardment continued until 6th of October when the Spanish finally surrendered the city to the invaders.

The British occupation would last for two years, but their power would not extend beyond Manila and Cavite—thanks to Governor Simon de Anda y Salazar who moved to Bacolor, Pampanga and continued to fight for more than a year and a half. The British officially left the Philippines after the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1764.

8. In the 16th century Manila, the Muslims were the ruling class while the Tagalogs were considered inferior. Okay

During the 16th century, Manila, known then as Kota Salurong (or Seludong), was under Muslim control. It all started when Sultan Bulkeaiah (Nakhoda Ragam) of Brunei conquered the Kingdom of Tondo and established Kota Salurong as an outpost of his sultanate. Soon, the Muslims became the ruling class and fully controlled the wealth, trade, and the seat of government in the old Manila.

The Tagalogs, on the other hand, were considered second-class citizens who wore long hairs, carried weapons such as daggers, and rarely traveled by land. Under the Muslim rule, the Tagalog learned to adopt the culture of their conquerors. They started to use Muslim names, wore turbans, read the Quran, and even refused to eat pork.

9. Dwight D. Eisenhower almost became Quezon City’s first chief of police

In October 1939, President Manuel L. Quezon started to discuss his plans of establishing a new city with General Douglas MacArthur, his military adviser at that time. The late president valued the latter’s opinions due to his “keen, analytical mind.” After he decided that he would take over the mayorship, Quezon asked MacArthur if he knew someone who could be an effective chief of police for the new city.

MacArthur immediately scanned the room and pointed to one of his assistants. The young man, as it turned out, was then Lieutenant Colonel Dwight D. Eisenhower, a future U.S. president.

Of course, Eisenhower was qualified for the position as he had some police training in the States. But when Quezon was about to appoint him, the young Eisenhower refused and explained that he already made a promise to his wife to go back home after his tour of duty is over.

10. Escolta boasts of many firsts in the Philippines

You probably already know that Clarke’s Ice Cream Parlor on the west side of present-day Jones Bridge was the first ice cream store in the country. This soda fountain and restaurant was brought to the country by an American entrepreneur named M.A. “Met” Clarke.

But this ice cream parlor was just one of Escolta’s trailblazers.

There’s also Salon de Pertierra which opened in 1896  and became the first movie house in the country. It was designed to show Pertierra’s first movie in Manila which was finally shown in January 1897. The first four movies were silent French films with subtitles and accompanied by an orchestra.

Escolta, known by pre-war Filipinos as the shopping strip for the upper- and middle-class, was also home to the country’s first electric cable car (Tranvia), the first American-style department store (Beck’s), and first elevator (at the Burke Building).

11. Manila Day (June 24) marks the foundation of Intramuros, not the Manila we know today

Unknown to many, Manila Day, which is held every 24th of June, commemorates the foundation of Spanish Manila.

The term Spanish Manila, however, was only limited to the areas contained within the walls, hence Intramuros. In other words, Manila Day celebrates the foundation of Intramuros, not the Metro Manila we know today which were actually suburbs or arrabales outside the walls.

12. Manila City Hall is shaped like a coffin with a cross on it when viewed from the top

Scary as it may sound, the Manila City Hall actually looks like a coffin when viewed from the top, as proven by several aerial shots proliferating on the Internet.

However, the shape is not actually a casket or coffin. Manila City Hall was intentionally designed to resemble a shield of the Knights Templar when viewed from an aerial standpoint. This symbolizes the fact that the country is under the strong influence of the Roman Catholic Church.


Monday, June 12, 2023

12 Favorite Foods of Doctor Jose Rizal


  1. Sinigang na Ayungin
  2. Tinolang Manok (Dr. Jose Rizal's version uses squash or kalabasa)
  3. Carneng Asada / Carne Acada
  4. Saurbraten (national dish of Germany)
  5. Sardinas Secas (dried fish with fried rice / tuyo na may sinanga)
  6. Tsokolate Eh (melted chocolate and peanut brittle)
  7. Escabecheng Biya
  8. Bistek Tagalog
  9. Pancit Langlang
  10. Ginisang Munggo
  11. Minatamis na Munggo
  12. Adobo sa Labanos at Adobo sa Gata




Friday, May 12, 2023

12 Affordable Airbnbs Outside Metro Manila


Check references for details.


Wednesday, April 12, 2023

12 Companion Plants for Peppers

Pepper companion plants to deter pests

The following companion plants for peppers act to mask the presence of your pepper plants, limiting a pest’s ability to find them in your garden. Most pests find their host plant through a series of cues, including both visual and olfactory (scent) cues. These two plant partnerships work by masking the volatile chemicals (odors) released by pepper plants that allow pests to discover them and feed or lay eggs.

1. Onions, scallions, and garlic for green peach aphids

Green peach aphids are among the most common pests of peppers. They feed spring through fall by sucking out plant juices, causing distorted growth, leaf yellowing, and leaf curl. Green peach aphids also transmit several plant viruses to pepper plants. Interplanting peppers with members of the allium family, including chives, onions, garlic, and scallions, has been shown to deter these small insects from settling on pepper plants to feed. Plant the allium crops around and in between your pepper plants. Or plant your peppers smack in the middle of your onion crop.

2. Basil for thrips

Tiny, slender thrips can cause big trouble on pepper plants. Their damage causes a silver, net-like appearance on the leaves, flower buds, or fruits (shown in image above). They also spread various plant diseases. They’re so small that identifying them is a challenge. Look for dead terminal shoots, tiny specks of black excrement, early fruit drop, or the net-like distortion. To deter thrips, interplant your pepper plants with basil, which has been shown to help mask pepper (and tomato) plants from thrips. The volatile chemicals released by basil plants mask those emitted from the pepper plants, making it difficult for the thrips to discover their pepper host.

Companion plants for peppers that increase biological control

Beneficial pest-eating insects play a very valuable role in the vegetable garden. Using “good bugs” to help manage “bad bugs” is known as biological control. You don’t have to purchase beneficial insects and release them into the garden (in fact, doing so is not really a useful practice for home gardeners). Instead, it’s much better to create a garden where a healthy natural population of good bugs is encouraged. Enhancing the numbers of these good bugs is one of the easiest ways to keep pest outbreaks from occurring in the first place. Using companion plants that attract and support beneficial insects is essentially putting out the welcome mat for them. When it comes to companion plants for peppers that enhance biological control, here are a handful of great options.

3. Dill, fennel, cilantro, and other members of the carrot family

Flowering herbs in the carrot family are exceptional companion plants for peppers. Their umbrella-shaped clusters of tiny flowers are ideal for supporting a broad array of predators of aphids, hornworms, bud worms, and other pepper pests. Tiny, non-stinging parasitic wasps feed on the nectar of these flowers and then go on to parasitize hornworms and other pest caterpillars. Other species of parasitic wasps parasitize aphids. Predatory insects like ladybugs and lacewings also drink nectar from members of the carrot family. In addition to feasting on aphids, some species also feed on whiteflies and other pepper pests. Plant dill, fennel, and cilantro in between and around your pepper plants. Since many of these good bugs fly, you can even plant these plants around the edge of your garden and still see positive results.

4. Sunflowers as pepper companion plants

Good ol’ sunflowers have so much to offer the garden. They’re a must-have on the list of great companion plants for peppers. Yes, they lure in pollinators, but sunflowers also enhance biological control in two ways. First, they provide nectar and pollen to beneficial pest-eating insects. Second, even when they’re not in bloom, they produce extra floral nectar (EFN) from glands on their leaf undersides. This EFN is a sweet reward for beneficial insects in exchange for managing pests. Sunflowers start producing EFN when they’re only a few inches tall. Plant lots of sunflowers in and around your pepper patch, and you’ll have plenty of good bugs around to help keep pest numbers in check.

5.Sweet alyssum and its benefits to peppers

The small blooms of this low-growing annual plant feed a whole host of good bugs that help a gardener manage pepper pests. Parasitic wasps, syrphid flies, tachinid flies, ladybugs, and lacewings are all found sipping from the blooms. And when they’re not drinking nectar, some of these beneficial insects are eating pests like aphids, whiteflies, and thrips, while others are laying their eggs in pests like hornworms, bud worms, and fruit worms. Underplant your pepper plants with a carpet of sweet alyssum. In addition to enhancing biological control, it’s also beautiful.

Companion plants for peppers that act as a trap crop for pests

Trap crops are plants chosen for their attractiveness to a targeted pest. The presence of a trap crop lures the pests away from the desired crop, protecting it from damage. A trap crop is essentially a sacrificial offering to the pest. There are several companion plants for peppers that serve as excellent trap crops.

6. Pak choi or radish for flea beetles

Flea beetles are one of the biggest pest challenges faced by gardeners. The small, ragged holes they leave behind can weaken plant growth and lead to reduced yields. Though a full-grown pepper plant tolerates flea beetle damage, a young seedling will be stunted, which can lead to delayed or reduced yields down the line. A simple trap crop of pak choi or radishes is all that’s needed to keep flea beetle damage to a minimum on your pepper plants. Flea beetles much prefer pak choi and radishes to the leaves of peppers (and eggplants and tomatoes, too). Interplant your peppers with these easy-to-grow companion plants for peppers for the best results. Sow the pak choi or radish seeds a few weeks in advance of planting the peppers into the garden.

7. Hot cherry peppers for pepper maggot flies

Pepper maggot flies lay eggs on developing peppers. The maggot tunnels into the fruit and eats the tissue inside. Most of the time gardeners don’t find pepper maggots until the fruit rots prematurely on the plant or you cut into the pepper and discover the wriggly beast inside. Research in Connecticut showed that farmers who planted a trap crop of hot cherry peppers around the outside of their bell pepper fields, had a 98 to 100 percent reduction in pepper maggot damage on the bell peppers. Pepper maggot flies much prefer hot cherry peppers to other varieties, so the damage was focused on this sacrificial variety, rather than on the bell peppers. In a home garden, plant hot cherry peppers around the periphery of your pepper patch, or plant a row on the outer edge of the garden.

8. Nasturtiums for aphids

If aphids plague your pepper plants, consider planting a nearby companion planting of nasturtiums. A favorite of aphids, the lovely round leaves of nasturtiums are much preferred by this pest. The aphids opt to feed on the nasturtiums and leave your peppers alone. Since aphids are tiny and can’t travel very far, you’ll want these two plant partners located within a foot or two of each other. As an added bonus, having lots of aphids on your nasturtiums also means you’ll be providing a consistent food source for the many beneficial insects that feed on aphids, including ladybugs, lacewings, syrphid flies, parasitic wasps, and many others. Because the population of beneficials will be high in your garden, they will also be able to help manage any aphid outbreaks elsewhere in your veggie patch, too.

Companion plants for peppers for weed control

If your garden is large and you grow a lot of peppers, you may find yourself over-run with weeds. While mulching with straw, untreated grass clippings, or shredded leaves certainly helps limit weeds, there are also some companion plants for peppers that also serve to limit weed growth. Known as a “living mulch”, these plant partners are planted in between pepper rows or on walkways, where their presence serves to displace and outcompete weeds. Be careful, though, because if you don’t mow them down regularly as specified below, they can themselves become weedy.

9. White clover as a living mulch

When used as a permanent living mulch, white clover (Trifoleum repens) reduces weeds, provides nitrogen to nearby plants, and if left to bloom, helps feed beneficial bugs and pollinators, too. Plant it between rows or veggies or in pathways since it’s a perennial and will not die back in the winter. Choose a shorter variety and mow the plants down with a mower or string trimmer several times a year. One study found that when white clover was used as a living mulch between crop rows, the weed control it provided was comparable to commercial herbicide application. It would work in much the same manner if grown between raised beds. Be sure to mow it down before the flowers turn into seed heads to keep it from becoming weedy itself.

10. Subterranean clover as a living mulch for peppers

Subterranean clover (Trifolium subterraneum) is a winter annual cover crop that can also be used as a living mulch. It grows much like peanuts do in that pegs are formed from above-ground flowers. The pegs grow downward and into the soil where the seeds are formed. If temperatures where you live regularly dip below 15 degrees F (-9 degrees C) in the winter, subterranean clover is winter killed which keeps it from becoming weedy, as long as you mow it before the pegs are formed. In a Maryland study, a subclover living mulch controlled weeds better than conventional herbicide treatments. Mow subclover regularly throughout the growing season. This keeps it from competing with crops and prevents the pegs from developing. After the plants are winter killed, plant transplants of a new crop right through the detritus. Or, till it into the soil to add organic matter and nutrients.

Companion plants for peppers to improve the soil

Plant partnerships can also be used to help improve the soil. In some cases, the companion plants are legumes (members of the pea and bean family). These plants convert nitrogen from the air into a form that other plants can use to fuel their growth. In other cases, the companion plants are cover crops that are tilled into the soil to add organic matter and nutrients.

11. Cowpeas as a source of nitrogen

One of the more surprising plant partners on this list of companion plants for peppers is probably cowpeas (Vigna unguiculata). This warm-season companion plant is often used as a cover crop. But, it can also be used as a nitrogen provider to nearby plants. When grown in partnership with peppers, a California study showed that the cowpeas improved pepper production by both reducing weeds and providing nitrogen. Cowpeas are best planted in spring. Interplant them with transplants of peppers, tomatoes, or summer squash. Because they produce compounds that can inhibit the germination of seeds, don’t plant any of the partner crops from seed. Only use transplants.

Companion plants for peppers to improve pollination

Annual or perennial plants with big, wide blooms or hooded flowers are great companion plants for peppers. Though pepper flowers are self-fertile (meaning they can pollinate themselves), they need to be shaken or jostled. This releases the pollen from the anthers. The wind or even you bumping into the plant can be enough to cause pollen release. However, the presence of bumble bees further improves pollination rates. Bumble bees are especially valuable pollinators to peppers and other members of the nightshade family like tomatoes and eggplants. This is because they vibrate their flight muscles very fast in a process called buzz pollination. It’s the most effective tool for knocking that pollen loose and fertilizing pepper flowers.

12. Large or hooded flowers to bring in the bumble bees

To boost the number of bumble bees in your vegetable garden, plant flowers that support them. Bumble bees are big, and they need a secure landing pad. Plants with large, lobed lower petals are one good option. Hooded flowers like monkshood, lupines, snapdragons, and members of the pea and bean family, need bumble bees to pop open their flowers (most smaller bees aren’t heavy enough). Broad flowers with a heavy center, like zinnias, cone flowers, tithonia, and cosmos, are another great bet. Plant plenty of these blooms in and around your vegetable garden to enhance pepper pollination.


Companion plants for peppers: 12 science-backed choices for healthy, high-yielding plants

Sunday, March 12, 2023

12 Companion Plants For Tomatoes

1. Herbs

Growing herbs with your tomatoes is a smart choice. Many herbs not only require minimal space to grow (both in terms of height and root coverage) but they also are easy to care for. They won’t take a ton of nutrients from your soil and they won’t compete with your tomatoes for water, sunlight, or airflow, either.

Some of the best herbs to grow with your tomatoes include:

  • Mint
  • Parsley
  • Sage
  • Lemon balm
  • Chives
  • Basil
  • Dill (harvest early so its tall, bushy growth doesn’t interfere with your tomatoes)

Many of these, like basil, can help to repel disease and insects, too. Some gardeners report that basil improves the growth and flavor of your tomatoes, too.

2. Groundcovers

Just about any groundcover plant can be grown with tomatoes. Many of these are also herbs, like marjoram and oregano, but you can grow any plant that grows low to the ground with tomatoes. They won’t take up much space or compete for nutrients.

3. Lettuce

Grow leaf lettuce and other leafy greens (with the exception of spinach, a heavy feeder) beneath your tomatoes. Not only will the lettuce act as a living mulch to keep the soil cooler, but it can reduce the spread of disease in the garden, too.

Plus, lettuce likes to be kept cool, so growing it in the shadow of your tomatoes is a good way to extend the amount of time before it goes to seed, too.

4. Beans

Many people don’t think of growing beans next to or underneath their tomato plants, but it’s actually a smart choice. Beans are not heavy nitrogen feeders, and instead, add nitrogen back to the soil. Tomatoes, on the other hand, consume heavy amounts of nitrogen. Growing these two plants together is a smart choice that will maximize the space you have a labile. Choose bush beans instead of pole beans for the best results.

5. Radishes

Radishes love the shade, so growing radishes under tomatoes is a smart choice. Your radishes will stay cool, which can prevent them from bolting.

6. Root Vegetables

Most root vegetables grow well in the shadow of tomatoes, too. Some good options include parsnips, carrots, beets, and rutabagas. All of these crops grow best when they are exposed to soil that is high in phosphorus but not quite as high in nitrogen. When these root vegetables are provided with too much nitrogen, they produce bushy tops at the expense of their roots.

As a result, you’ll be left with small, inedible tubers.

Growing these crops beneath your tomatoes is a great way to ensure that they don’t receive too much nitrogen – but your tomatoes will love the nitrogen instead!

7. Flowers

Flowers not only increase pollination from beneficial insects but also reduce the likelihood of pests being drawn to your tomatoes, too. Marigolds can reduce the likelihood of soil-based nematodes as well as pests that target tomatoes like hornworms and

The viola is another good choice. Violas don’t need a lot of sun and can be planted right inside the bed. Lavender, technically an herb, is a great choice, too. It forms a low-to-the-ground cover and doesn’t need a lot of nutrients or sunlight in order to be productive

One flower that many people don’t think of growing with tomatoes is the rose. Although roses can compete with tomatoes for space if both plants aren’t pruned properly, tomatoes can actually help roses in that they can protect them from a disease named black spot.

8. Onions

Onions are great to grow beneath tomatoes because they don’t take up a lot of space and produce minimal foliage. They won’t restrict airflow and they also don’t absorb too many of the nutrients in the soil that your tomatoes need.

9. Garlic

Like onions, garlic also takes up minimal space and won’t compete much for nutrients. It can control late blight and also helps to repel red spider mites. Another benefit of growing garlic near tomatoes? You’ll have everything you need growing together to make a homemade spaghetti sauce!

10. Amaranth

Amaranth is a grain crop that grows surprisingly well next to tomatoes. It can help repel insects and won’t compete for space or water.

11. Borage

Borage grows in a fashion similar to lettuce, so you can plant it beneath your tomato plants without having to worry about it competing for space or nutrients. It can supposedly protect your plants from tomato hornworms, too. You can harvest the leaves young and enjoy them in salads.

12. Asparagus

Asparagus is another crop you can grow under your tomatoes, but you’ll have to be a bit careful about how you do it. Asparagus is a perennial, which means it will come back year after year.

You will just need to be mindful of where your plants are growing when you plant your tomato seedlings in the spring – that way, you won’t disturb the developing shoots.

Harvest the asparagus shoots young so they don’t interfere with the foliage of your tomatoes. Then, you can reap the many benefits of both.

Asparagus helps clear the soil of nematodes, which tend to be drawn to tomatoes, while tomatoes will help asparagus in return by getting rid of asparagus beetles. It’s a win-win for everyone!


Sunday, February 12, 2023

12 Health Benefits of Thyme


Thanks to its distinctive taste, thyme has remained a culinary staple to this day. But thyme also boasts a slew of helpful medicinal qualities.

Thyme’s benefits include:

  • fighting acne
  • lowering blood pressure
  • helping to alleviate cough
  • boosting immunity
  • disinfecting
  • repelling pests
  • aromatherapy
  • boosting mood
  • culinary uses
  • preventing bacterial infections
  • helping to treat yeast infections
  • possibly helping against certain types of cancer

Want to learn more about how this humble spice does so much? Dig into the research below.


If you’re tired of buying and trying over-the-counter acne medication with no good results, you may be in luck. Thyme is known for its antibacterial properties, and it might have a future as an acne-fighting ingredient.

When thyme is steeped in alcohol for days or weeks, it turns into a solution known as a tincture.

In an older 2010 study, thyme essential oil was found to have antibacterial activity against P. acnes, the bacteria thought to cause acne. However, we still don’t know if thyme oil actually reduces pimples.

Blood pressure

Thymus linearis Benth. is a species of thyme found in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

A 2014 study found that an extract was able to significantly lower heart rate in rats with high blood pressure. It was also able to lower their cholesterol.

Still, we need human studies to confirm these effects.


Thyme essential oil, which is obtained from its leaves, is often used as a natural cough remedy.

In one older 2006 study, a combination of thyme and ivy leaves helped to alleviate coughing and other symptoms of acute bronchitis.

A 2018 study found a combination of thyme and primula extracts to reduce inflammation and mucous in an animal model.

Next time you’re faced with a cough or sore throat, try drinking some thyme tea.


Getting all the vitamins your body needs every day can be challenging.

Luckily, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that thyme is packed with helpful nutrients, including:

  • vitamin A
  • vitamin C
  • copper
  • fiber
  • iron
  • manganese

However, thyme isn’t a great source of these nutrients unless you consume it in excessive quantities. For example, 1 teaspoon of thyme has 1.28 milligrams of vitamin C — according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), that’s only 1 percent of your daily needs.


Mold is a common yet potentially dangerous air pollutant that can lurk in your home. Once you identify it, you’ll want to take the necessary steps to get rid of it once and for all. In some cases, thyme oil may be the answer.

A 2017 study showed that thyme may be effective at controlling gray mold rot in guava fruit.

These effects may translate to mold in the home as well.

An older 2007 study suggests thyme can be used as a disinfectant in dwellings where there’s a low concentration of mold.

Still, if you find significant mold in your home, it’s best to hire a professional to remove it.


The Environmental Protection Agency says that thymol, a kind of thyme oil, is also an ingredient in many pesticides — both outdoor and indoor — and is commonly used to target:

  • bacteria
  • viruses
  • rats
  • mice
  • other animal pests

A 2021 study showed thyme essential oil to be effective against adult mosquitoes and their larvae.

You can make a homemade repellant by mixing 4 drops of thyme oil for every teaspoon of olive oil, or mixing 5 drops for every 2 ounces of water.


You can now find organic and natural skin care products at most retailers, and many contain thyme.

Thyme is also a popular ingredient in natural deodorants and is often included in potpourri.

You can use thyme essential oil in an aromatherapy diffuser to potentially reap the benefits of its mood-boosting properties, though more research is needed.


Thyme essential oil is often used for aromatic and therapeutic purposes because of its active substance, carvacrol.

In a 2013 animal study, carvacrol was shown to increase concentrations of serotonin and dopamine, two hormones that regulate mood.

If you use thyme or thyme oil regularly, it might have a positive effect on your feelings and mood. Still, more human studies are needed.


Thyme is a wonderful ingredient that’s used in cuisines around the world, particularly in France, Italy, and across the Mediterranean.

Thyme is a main ingredient in this tasty take on pesto sauce, which you can use as a condiment or add to pasta or rice.

Fresh leaves or whole sprigs can be used while preparing meat or poultry. Thyme is also an excellent ingredient to use with fish, like in this heart-healthy white fish recipe.

This whole wheat macaroni and cheese with mushrooms and thyme is a grown-up spin on a childhood favorite, and it’s a great way to add some thyme to your diet.

Thyme may also have a positive effect on the safety and longevity of cooking oils. A 2012 study indicated that thyme extract might prolong the stability of sunflower oil at different temperatures as well as provide antioxidant effects.

You can make your own thyme-infused oil by following this recipe. Still, there’s no guarantee that this homemade version will affect your oil’s stability.

Bacterial infection

Ever had food poisoning? Thyme may be able to help prevent it.

A 2013 in vitro study found that thyme oil showed potential as a natural preservative of food products against several common foodborne bacteria that cause human illness, even at low concentrations.

In addition, a 2011 in vitro study found thyme oil effective against resistant strains of Staphylococcus, Enterococcus, Escherichia, and Pseudomonas bacteria.

It’s important to note that this doesn’t mean that ingesting thyme oil will prevent you from getting food poisoning. Plus, if you were to take thyme supplements on a regular basis, you’d also likely be killing a lot of the good bacteria in your gut.

Yeast infection

Thyme isn’t just potentially effective against bacteria. It may pack some punch when it comes to fungus too.

A 2021 in vitro study found very low doses of thyme essential oil to be fungicidal against Candida albicans, a common cause of yeast infections, even when the fungus was resistant to the prescription medication fluconazole.

Still, human research is needed to know whether ingesting thyme oil can treat Candida.


A 2018 in vitro study found both thyme and clove essential oils to inhibit breast cancer cell lines. A 2021 study replicated these results.

These studies only provide very weak evidence of a potential benefit of thyme for cancer, and human studies are needed to confirm any potential benefits.


Thyme is a versatile herb with a broad wheelhouse of beneficial uses. Still, most of the research has been in lab or animal studies, so the scientific evidence to support these beneficial uses is fairly weak. Using thyme shouldn’t replace medical care and treatment.

If you’re interested in diving into the benefits of thyme, you may want to explore complementary and alternative medicine by finding a qualified professional, like a naturopath or osteopath, in conjunction with conventional treatment.

It can enhance your cooking, your health, your skin, and even the scent of your space. It might be about thyme to add this multipurpose plant to your toolkit.


Thursday, January 12, 2023

12 Rose Companion Plants


These 12 plants either look great with roses, thrive in the same conditions, or help your roses out somehow – perfect for your traditional or non-traditional rose garden.  

1. Lavender

Lavender and roses are a classic pair, often planted close together. The short purple spires of lavender offset the tall stems and cupped flowers of roses wonderfully.

Not only that, but they both thrive in the same conditions. Certain rose varieties, like shrub roses and floribunda roses, love soils that drain well, just like lavender. The full sun that gives lavender its fervor is also favored by some rose varieties.

Lavender has some other benefits too. It’s known to repel deer and rabbits and attracts the best pollinators around – bees. Some even suggest they make good host plants for aphids, protecting your roses from that pesky pest.

This addition is easy to care for, needing very little fuss and even less water to thrive. Lavender grows best in USDA Zones 5-9 and as long as they get full sun, they’ll flourish. 

2. Alyssum

Alyssum’s low-growing nature creates a beautiful carpet of soft-colored flowers. When paired with roses, it only looks better.

Like lavender, alyssum grows best in Zones 5-9 and enjoys rich soil with good drainage. Alyssums aren’t huge fans of full sun though, especially in hotter climates. They make a wonderful choice for gardeners living in hot areas and looking to add something to their rose bushes in shadier spots in their garden.

They have a similar smell to honey and when paired with your roses, make the air in your garden irresistible.  

3. Foxgloves

Tall plants also look great with roses – especially foxgloves. When planted together they make a striking pair and create interesting borders along long walkways.

Foxgloves’ tubular flowers bloom in late summer and can be pink, purple, white, and even yellow, a variety of colors that’ll complement any rose.

Foxgloves enjoy a range of light conditions, thriving in some shade and even full sun. Your climate dictates the amount of sunlight foxgloves may need. They’ll enjoy more sun in cooler areas, whereas shade would be ideal in hotter ones.

Foxgloves thrive in USDA Zones 5-9 but can be sensitive to prolonged high temperatures. Soil that drains well will keep foxgloves tall and vibrant alongside your roses.

4. Lady’s Mantle

For traditional cottage gardens covered with roses, lady’s mantle is the perfect perennial pairing. It’s relatively short, forming a ground cover with its small yellow flowers. Even better, it makes for an interesting border plant and is an option if you’re wanting an easy plant to cover the stems of your tall roses.

Lady’s mantle enjoys various light conditions, thriving best in partial shade. It can do well in full sun, but be on the lookout for sunscald. It isn’t too picky about soil, but lady’s mantle is not a fan of waterlogged soil. Well-draining soil of any kind is necessary.

Lady’s mantel adapts to temperature changes well, but will need more shade in hotter climates. It grows best in USDA Zones 3-7.

5. Baby’s Breath

A common sight in many bouquets and floral arrangements is baby’s breath. Its soft white and pink clouds of flowers never grow old in gardens, especially when paired with darker orange and red roses.

Baby’s breath is a good choice for gardeners wanting to create a floral feature in their garden with as little effort as possible. Good drainage (a theme throughout these companion plants) is a must for this hardy perennial.

Baby’s breath requires full sun and doesn’t need a lot of water. It is drought tolerant and handles dry climates better than humid ones (USDA Zones 3-9).

Roses and baby’s breath make a great pair, complimenting each other gracefully in your garden and in cut flower bouquets.

6. Shasta Daisy

Shasta daisies, like roses, are a garden classic, featuring the well-known white flowers with yellow centers. The simplicity of this flower pairs well with the intricacy of roses of any color.

Shasta daisies are hardy in USDA Zones 5 through 9, enjoying full sun and soil that drains well. Long periods of extreme temperatures, hot or cold, stress this somewhat drought tolerant plant. As long as the temperatures remain stable, Shasta daisies are easy plants to care for, needing very little water once they’re established.   

7. Marigolds

Marigolds are the ultimate companion plant. And not just because they look good with roses and share similar needs. They also attract some of the most beneficial insects to your garden.

If you’ve got a vegetable patch nearby, you also won’t regret planting marigolds in your garden. They deter hornworms and prevent root-knot nematodes from taking hold. For roses, marigolds strengthen growth while attracting bees and other pollinators.

The yellow, orange and golden hues add life to rose beds and brighten up any area in your garden. If its charming colors, flowers, and benefits haven’t won you over yet, then one simple fact might – marigolds can grow in almost any climate, from USDA Zones 2 to 11. They are easy to care for, loving full sun and needing water once a week once established.

8. Parsley

A pair that may not be the first to pop into your head are parsley and roses. Not only do they look surprisingly great together, but parsley also has many benefits for roses. Parsley deters many unwanted insects from your roses, including aphids and rose beetles. Even better, this herb may actually enhance the fragrance of your roses.

Parsley grows in a wide variety of climates (USDA Zones 2-11) and isn’t affected by humidity. Parsley enjoys consistently moist soil, well-draining soil. Other than more frequent watering, parsley is easy to care for and will do wonders if added to your garden.

9. Sage

Sage is another herb to opt for if you’re wanting to prevent aphids and beetles from attacking your roses. Much like lavender, sage’s purple blooms create an interesting image when paired with rose bushes.

They too will fill up the gaps created by the long stems of roses, while ensuring your roses remain… well… rosy. Sage thrives in full sun and needs dry, well-drained soil. It is also drought tolerant and won’t grow if overwatered.

Along with deterring a few pests, sage attracts a handful of beneficial insects too. Butterflies, bees, and even hummingbirds are sure to make an appearance in your garden.

If you’re unsure of where to place your sage, it does best as a border plant. In amongst your rose bushes, your path will transform with a touch of sage.

10. Pincushions

A shift back to handsome pairings now. Pincushion flowers are small but interesting, adding some life around the base of roses.

If you’re one for picking flowers and showing them off in your home, pincushions are an excellent choice for your rose bed. Its many colors will pop along the lower half of your rose bushes.

Pincushions are very easy to care for, thriving in temperate climates. Extreme heat, cold, and high humidity are unwelcome though (USDA Zones 3-7). They’re sun lovers, needing plenty of light to give you the show-stopping blooms these plants are known for.

In warmer climates, some afternoon shade may be needed. Once established, pincushions can go without water for some time (depending on the weather), making this flowering plant another easy yet stunning companion for your roses.

11. Snapdragons

Snapdragons are a spring favorite, for gardens and bumblebees alike. Its long, snout-shaped blooms contrast well with the shapes of roses. Snapdragons fill in the gaps, creating an irresistible flower display. Coming in almost every hue, your garden will be filled with colorful floral magic.

To ensure the magical sight, give snapdragons plenty of sun and partial shade in warmer areas. They do best in cooler climates but are hardy in USDA Zones 7-11.

Due to their differing flowering times, you may miss out on seeing the two together, but you will have a touch of summer with you in winter when roses are dormant. They are slightly thirstier than other perennials – but a welcome price to pay for its warm blooms.

12. Alliums

Another interesting companion for your roses are members of the onion family – alliums.

Seasoned rose growers will tell you that pairing members of this family with your roses do wonders. Their strong scent wards off aphids and other pests and many suggest that they prevent black spots on roses.

Garlic and chives are often recommended. Chives’ flowers are a soft white, complementing any rose beautifully. They’re relatively easy to care for, needing full sun and well-draining soil.

For those who would like to continue to showcase the roses, then ornamental onions are the choice for you. You will gain all the benefits of planting a member of the onion family while keeping your rose bush or beds looking marvelous.

Alliums thrive in USDA Zones 4-10 and are native to the middle east. They’re not at all fussy about their soil type, so long as it doesn’t hang on to water. Watering doesn’t need to be frequent, and they’ll appreciate full sun.

What Not To Plant With Roses

Roses thrive in almost any USDA hardiness zone, depending on the variety. They love the sun and need soil that drains well. Roses are also classified heavy feeders, needing nutritious soil lower in nitrogen. Constantly wet roots and soil will lead to a plethora of problems, especially root rot.

With these conditions in mind, there are a few plants not suited to roses:

Bunchberry – needs shade and lots of water to thrive.

Toad lilies – need well-draining soil but do best in full shade.

Leopard plants – have a love for shade and need slightly alkaline soil that is moist.

Fuchsia – shade is a requirement for this plant to thrive, along with rich moist soil.


12 Rose Companion Plants (& What Not To Grow Near Roses)