I’ve mentioned several times about the value of companion planting so today for the Friday Fives I thought I’d go a little more into detail with some specific plants. Companion planting is an integrated planting technique where the plants benefit each other through pest repulsion or through other beneficial qualities.
5 Companion Plants and How They Help
Companion planting is a really cool thing to do and can make for a visually stunning garden. With any garden technique it isn’t 100% fool proof. Some damage will occur, some diseases will occur, and that’s why the gardener needs to use multiple of techniques to insure a successful garden!
Cosmos to attract Hoverflies and Beneficial Insects
One of the most secretive plants that can be use in the vegetable garden that often isn’t is …cosmos! Cosmos is more than just a pretty flower that is easy to grow. It’s a beneficial bug magnet. Cosmos can attract hoverflies, parasitic wasps, and many others. Some studies have shown that the sound of bees deters various caterpillars who are afraid of the wasps, and cosmos does attract bees!
If you don’t have space in the garden plant cosmos around the garden as a border or plant cosmos in pots.
Basil vs Hornworms and Flies
Basil is not only and awesome herb but repels hornworms and flies. I plant my basil with the tomatoes and peppers. Peppers tend to be fairly pest free but tomatoes can have all kinds of insect invaders. One of the most notable is the hornworm. It chows down on any foliage it can get a hold of but prefers tomatoes over nearly anything in my garden. Since I integrated basil with the tomatoes I haven’t seen a single one.
Marigolds vs. Root Nematodes
Marigolds are great to plant around your tomatoes too. They prevent damage from nematodes that like to damage the root systems. If you plant a ring of marigolds around the tomatoes you can actually see the benefits persist in the soil for multiple years. Pretty cool right? In addition to fending off the nematodes marigolds can also deter white flies!
Nasturtiums vs. Squash Bugs and Cucumber Beetles
One of those most annoying bugs to bother my garden is the squash bug. Guess what? There’s a plant for that! Nasturtiums planted around your squash plants deter squash bugs and cucumber beetles. They can also be used as a trap plant for aphids which are drawn to them.
Radishes Against Vine Borers
How about this little tasty companion: the radish! Radishes are said to prevent damage from what I consider to be the worst pest of my whole garden, the vine borer. Vine borers lay there eggs at the base of the squash, hatch, then burrow into the stem. They cut off the supply of water and nutrients to the rest of the plant which dooms the plant to the compost bin. Although I haven’t tried inter-planting radishes with my squash plants before it is on my agenda for this season. We love our summer squash here and despise those borers!
For further information on companion planting I recommend Carrots Love Tomatoes (Am. Aff.) by Louis Riotte. It’s been the standard book on companion planting for many years and will give you a great start on learning how to companion plant your garden.
What companion plants do you use in your home garden?
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