Creating a garden where the plants support each other is great for the life of the plants and the produce you’ll receive. Companion planting is the art of planting vegetables, flowers and herbs close to each other so that both plants receive the nutrients necessary for optimal growth or deter damaging pests.
Photo Source: BHG.com
Growth Companions – The “three sisters” – corn, pole beans and squash demonstrate companion planting at its best. The corn supports the bean vines, the squash shades out weeds, and the roots of the different plants get along nicely below ground. For a detailed list on which plants grow best together, check out this chart, courtesy of No-Dig-VegetableGarden.com.
Repel Damaging Pests – The answer to repel potentially damaging pest is simple: Marigolds. Their scent is unappealing to many insect pests. Other varieties such as the French brocade marigold emit a pesticide-like substance through their roots killing nematodes in the immediate area. Feel free to plant them thickly throughout your vegetables.
Other repellent ideas include mint, rue and sweet basil. Container-grown mint repels aphids and cabbage pests. Rue can be grown as a garden border to deter Japanese beetles. Sweet basil can be grown in your garden to repel aphids, mites and mosquitoes.
Attract Beneficial Insects – Sunflowers earn their keep in the garden. Place them near other plants that usually attract aphids, like tomatoes. The sunflower blooms lure ladybugs and ants which eat aphids. Hummingbirds are also attracted by the sunflowers which eat whiteflies, mosquitoes and other soft-bodied insects. In order to take advantage of this you’ll need to plant early; sunflowers take about 70 – 100 days to mature. Plant after the threat of the last frost has passed.
Trap Plants – By planting decoy plants you can save your crop and contain the pest problem. The Colorado potato beetle loves to munch on Black Nightshade even more than your potato plants. Aphids are strongly attracted to Nasturtiums. Lure the pests to these plants, “trapping” them. Cover the plant with a bag, remove the plant and destroy it along with the pests.
Spruce up your garden this year with a mix of vegetables, flowers and herbs. With companion planting your garden can become a beautiful work of art.