Companion Planting…not a new concept. It has been a practice followed for centuries, a collection of hand-me-down knowledge and experience…
What is companion planting? Plants living together that help each other grow better, repel insects, provide shade, support, protection and soil benefits…in simple terms, plants that mutually benefit from being grown together. Some examples, plants used for hedges give shelter to those needing less sun nearby, French marigolds planted within a vegetable garden help deter pests, and garlic or onions planted with roses help to overcome black spot.
Companion planting skills developed from the close observations our ancestors were able to make of the way plants grew together in their gardens. They observed how plants affected each other in different ways: how the roots of some plants and herbs can exude substances which assist –or hinder-the growth of others nearby, or which kill or repel insect pests that would attack those neighbors, OR, how root secretions from marigolds grown in a garden will be an effective control for nematodes…and then shared their “secrets” with other gardeners.
Twentieth century research now proves what our garden ancestors knew! How some plants can actually inhibit other plants growing nearby, causing yellowing foliage, distorted growth or death, and, how exudations given off by plants can affect the chemical balance in the surrounding soil, and how some plants draw trace materials from the soil and store them in their foliage…making them good additions to a compost pile, and how some plants enrich the soil and assist those plants that follow, and how some plants have a smell that attracts beneficial insects such a bees that pollinate flowers!
While many people consider the ancient concepts of companion planting just mysterious folklore…there are obvious reasons why this folklore persists…it WORKS! Companion planting schemes will produce happier plants and provide better insect control than a monoculture! Increase the diversity!
TAKE NOTE of a few examples:
*Strawberries grow better, fruit better and are less susceptible to fungal problems when grown near BORAGE, which also attracts bees.
*Yarrow, a good companion for most plants, helps increase the essential oil content and aroma of nearby herbs and, it helps the compost pile break down faster.
*Comfrey, rich in potassium, nitrogen and phosphates, makes it an excellent plant healer, fertilizer and compost activator
*Chives, planted with carrots and parsley improves their flavor, and is helpful in deterring aphids when planted around roses.
*Basil, planted with tomatoes will increase flavor and color…and repel flies!
*Plant savory with beans and onions to improve their flavor and growth.
*Do not plant onions near peas or beans.
*Rosemary and lavender attract bees and repel mosquitoes.
*Thyme attracts bees and helps improve the quality and flavor of vegetables.
*Plant tansy around blackberries or grapes to repel pests…the intrusive root system breaks up soil structure and is good for the compost pile…NOT GOOD FOR GRAZING LIVESTOCK!
*Sunflowers are good together with corn and squash…they act as hosts to lacewings and predatory wasps, stink bugs and many other beneficial insects…they also attract pest controlling birds and bees to the garden.
*Lambs ears planted around roses act as trap plants for a thrip predator!
*Garlic is a rich source of sulfur that is beneficial when planted near roses and tomatoes…it deters aphids as well as helps to prevent blackspot.
*Keep fennel away from vegetables and other herbs…plant it in a butterfly garden and give it room to grow! Bronze fennel is especially nice in a butterfly garden as it serves as a host plant for “butterfly babies”
*Nasturtiums protect zucchini from white fly, but beware…snails love their foliage.
*Very fragrant petunias can help control squash beetles!
There is so much much more available…start researching and you’ll see! OR, check with me and I’ll help you choose companions for your garden!