I have been learning many new natural biological control methods (using a natural predator to control pests) and companion planting tricks to use in my own garden. I just finished reading an article about the how to’s and why’s of companion planting in your garden.
Companion planting is when you plant an arrange combination of plants for the benefit of one another. It could be planting two plants next to each other or four plants. The point is to utilize the specific qualities of each plant for the benefit of the other. Just like peanut butter and jelly or chips and salsa, radishes and spinach compliment each other.
Here are some other plants and their compliments:
Cabbage and Rosemary and Mint: Rosemary, as well as mint, distracts the cabbage moth from laying its eggs on the cabbage.
Tomatoes and Marigolds: Some plants emit smells or insect repelling natural chemicals through their leaves or roots which kill or deter pests. This is the reason why marigolds are so beneficial to your garden areas. Marigolds secrete a substance through their roots which control microscopic soil pests called nematodes.
Dill, Basil, Marigolds and Tomatoes: Dill weed is not only a wonderful herb to grow and use in the kitchen, but it is a beneficial pest deterrent. Dill is supposed to keep the tomato horn worm away. We had an awaking with this pest. They show up out of no where and can eat a full grown tomato plant before you know it. I keep my eye out for this pest and use the old-fashion hand picking and destroy method for control. Basil also repels the tomato worm as well as deters mosquitoes and flies as well as increases the flavor of tomatoes because it conditions the soil with certain beneficial nutrients. This year, I am planning on experimenting with these combinations of tomato companion planting.
Garlic, onions, chives planted with tender greens: Some pests locate their food by smell. By planting onions near tender lettuce greens, pests are overpowered and repulsed by the smell of onions or garlic.
Chives near rose bushes: I absolutely love chives. Even if you do not like the taste of chives, the plant is a beautiful, hardy grass that blooms the most wonderful purple flower. Chives are strong plants that deter pests that seek fragrant roses.
There are a hundred different combinations:
Basil – keeps away flies and mosquitoes.
Horseradish – repels the potato bugs.
Catnip – Help stops flea beetle.
Mint – keeps away white cabbage moth, ants.
Nasturtium – keeps away aphids, squash bugs and pumpkin beetles.
Marigold – keeps away asparagus beetles and tomato worm
Peppermint – keeps away the cabbage butterfly.
Rosemary – prevents cabbage moth, bean beetles and carrot fly.
Sage – keeps away cabbage moth and carrot fly.
Thyme – deters the cabbage worm.
Wormwood – keeps away animals from garden, like cats.
Leeks and carrots repel each other’s pests.
Tomatoes, beans, peppers, carrots are mutually beneficial to each other.
Indians practiced companion planting by growing what is known as the “Three Sisters”. Corn, beans and squash are companions in these ways:
- Corn grows into a tall stalk that provides a natural pole in which the beans may climb.
- Bean plants put vital nutrients, nitrogen, into the soil for the enrichment of the plants.
- Squash leaves spread large and wide providing shade for the soil and thereby keeping moisture in the soil. Squash plants also choke out large weeds.
Amazing how 3 simple plants, planted in combination together can produce benefits for its plant neighbors! Then, of course, we all have heard about the composting skills that the Indians used — that of teaching our forefathers how to grow corn by composting dead fish in the soil before planting corn seed.
You may also experiment with planting certain plants together to maximize space. This winter I planted broccoli with lettuce underneath after reading about this type of companion planting in a gardening book. There is a wealth of knowledge to learn about just in how to plant deep rooted plants next to shallow rooted plants or how to combine shade loving plants with taller sun loving but shade giving plants. Just as important, it is beneficial to know which plants not to plant together. Jodi Torpey says in her article “Sow Happy Together”:
“While some plants do better when grown together, other plant combinations don’t work as well. Their root systems may compete for moisture or nutrients, or their chemical makeup may inhibit the other’s growth. Carrots’ growth will be stunted if dill is planted close by, for example. Beans don’t grow well near any member of the onion family such as chives, shallots, or garlic.”
An interesting and vast subject for sure. The point is, creating a symbiotic relationship between a variety of plants is an art and science that has been long neglected. Were it not for massive chemical companies that produce products like round-up and off! –we may be more knowledgeable about how to use plants for our benefit. I am just getting into the fascinating facts about using plants for bug repellents instead of products that contain harmful ingredients such as deet.
The companion relationships between different plants can be used to increase yields in your garden as well as increase plant and fruit quality, provide natural pest control and disease prevention and maintain healthy soil. Using plants in symbiosis is a very natural but powerful approach to gardening that recognizes the wisdom of our Creator in providing us with plants that have distinct unique characteristics. Isn’t the design of the Creator marvelous?