Nature is amazing…from the beneficial insects who protect our gardens from nasty pests intent on destroying it, to the bees and birds that help to pollinate it, the more we know and understand how to use what nature gives us to our advantage, the healthier our plants…and our lives will be.
Companion planting is a time honored method of growing a garden that can reduce your dependence upon pesticides and help you reap a better harvest.
Benefits of companion planting
Companion planting is defined as “the cultivation of certain kinds of plants together in the same area, especially if one species will benefit from another, such as planting an insect-repellent plant in a vegetable garden.”
When beneficial plants are paired up in a garden, it will draw more pollinators while also repelling the bugs who love your vegetables and fruits as much as you.
It also invites beneficial insects to the garden to feast on harmful insects, reducing the need for pesticide use.
Common beneficial plant pairings
Different things, such as climate, soil type and types of pests will influence your companion planting efforts, so while the following plant pairings have been shown to be helpful, the best way to learn what will work in your garden is through trial and error.
Note: A good rule of thumb is to choose flowers and non edible plants that are native to your area, because those are the types of plants beneficial insects will seek out.
Basil and tomato
Basil and tomato do well when planted next to each other in your garden. Specific herbs like basil repels insects that are attracted to tomatoes and improves the health and taste of the tomatoes themselves.
Soybeans and corn
Soybeans grow well with corn, repelling Japanese beetles and chinch bugs that can destroy your corn crop.
Brassicas and herbs
The following vegetables are known as brassicas:
- ⬥Brussel sprouts
These vegetables benefit when paired with herbs like mint, rosemary and sage and they also pair well with onions.
Marigolds and beans
Marigolds are a well known insect repellant and are a good choice to plant next to beans, protecting them from root nematodes…pesky little bugs that can kill plants by feeding on their roots.
In addition to repelling bugs, marigolds also attract pollinating insects, helping your bush beans to grow.
Common pests and plants that fight them
- ⬥Aphids – Chives, coriander, nasturtium
- ⬥Ants – Tansy
- ⬥Asparagus beetle – Pot marigold
- ⬥Bean beetle – Marigold, nasturtium, rosemary
- ⬥Cabbage moth – Hyssop, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, southernwood, tansy, thyme
- ⬥Carrot fly – Rosemary, sage
- ⬥Flea beetle – Catmint (Contains nepetalactone (insect repellent) – steep in water and spray on plants), mint
- ⬥Flies – Basil, rue
- ⬥Fruit Tree Moths – Southernwood (has a camphor-like odor)
- ⬥Japanese Beetles – Garlic, rue (When used near roses and raspberries),tansy
- ⬥Potato Bugs – Horseradish
- ⬥Mosquitoes – Basil, rosemary
- ⬥Nematodes – Marigold (Give marigolds at least one year to be established for them to work as a repellent)
- ⬥Squash bugs and beetles – Nasturtium, tansy
- ⬥Ticks – Lavender (Also thought to repel mice and moths)
- ⬥Tomato Horn Worm – Borage, pot marigold (a/k/a calendula)
Remember…it takes time to discover what will work best in your garden, so plan accordingly. Make notes of what worked and what didn’t, changing things up when you’re not getting the results you want.