The garden is a major romantic hub with a diversity of beneficial (and detrimental) relationships. Gardeners can easily play the role of ‘matchmaker’ by growing specific crops in close proximity to one another to serve a beneficial purpose - known as companion planting.
There are numerous benefits to practising companion planting, like natural pest-control, pollination, natural mulches to keep the weeds down, providing habitat for beneficial insects, increases insect and plant diversity in the garden, and generally increase production productivity.
Why not give companion planting a try in your own garden? Here are some combinations we LOVE!
These two are great companions make for great companions as they both prefer the same growing conditions. Research has shown that African marigold secretes a substance in the soil that suppresses root-knot nematodes that are harmful to the development of tomatoes.
Aphids don’t dig smelly plants like chives or garlic, therefore, they make the perfect companions for lettuce. Adding alyssum into the mix will attract beneficial insects to your lettuce crops.
This odd couple has similar growth requirements (full sun and well-draining soil) and the same planting schedule. The odorous onions also mask the sweet strawberry scent from hungry pests.
The pungent smell of basil will ward off a number of pesky critters, and if left to flower, can attract beneficial pollinators to your eggplant crops.
Nasturtiums are a ‘trap crop’. White cabbage butterflies will often lay their eggs on nasturtiums instead of your precious cabbage crops.
Sweet Alyssum attracts numerous beneficial insects, including hoverflies, which predate on aphids.
Calendula exudes a sticky substance on its stem that lures aphids and traps them. These bright beauties also attract ladybugs to feast on aphids.
Even though these are both root crops, they take up nutrients from different levels in the soil and are therefore not competing for resources. They can be planted at the same time and the radish will germinate before carrots, thereby loosening the soil for the germinating carrot seeds. Radish mature before carrots so when they are ready for harvesting, the carrots are allowed more space to grow.
Chamomile attracts beneficial insects to cabbages (it can also serve as a companion to other brassica crops). In Autumn, cut the chamomile down, leaving the roots intact, and scatter on the bed to decompose and enrich the soil.
*Tip: Plant Wormwood (Artemisia spp.) on garden boundaries as they assist in natural pest control. Have a look at this interesting post by fellow gardener @judiths.
Trial and error is the best way to determine the best combinations that will work for your garden - experimenting is all part of the fun.