Garden Plants: Companions

by Polly

When two garden plants thrive in each other’s company, we call them “companions.” No one knows exactly why this is true. But, companion vegetables suffer fewer pest attacks, grow more vigorously, and have better yields. And, ofteh they even taste better.

While the science of companion planting is not complete, gardeners do have a long history of experience and observation to draw upon. Gardeners have been experimenting with companion planting since at least 300 B.C.

Companion planting in our time is especially effective because our plots are mostly small. Their chemical secretions either stunt the growth or boost the yield of the plant in the close vicinity.

Vegetable growers find that companion planting provides many benefits. One is protection from pests.

Not only do the plants attract insects to pollinate your vegetables – some pests actually prefer the flowers and will leave the vegetable alone.

2191559175_30801cc220jpgNasturtiums and Nicotiana are the most popular flower trap crops used to attract aphids. If you are interested in attracting hummingbirds or butterflies, there is nothing better than flowering tobacco-Nicotiana.

Nasturtiums planted with squash will keep away squash bugs. When planted near broccoli in the garden, they will keep down aphids and benefit potatoes, radishes, cucumbers, and any member of the cabbage family.

I have also noticed that when I plant nicotiana between tomatoes; it increases tomato yields. Lettuce and nicotiana are very good companions because flowering tobacco gives lettuce light shade in which it grows much better.

Another good garden companion and fly repellent is Tansy. I use this plant for grapes and raspberries. It is also a good companion to roses.

tansyTansy deters flying insects, Japanese beetles, striped cucumber beetles, and squash bugs and helps repel flies and ants. It concentrates potassium making it a good addition to the compost pile.

Tansy attracts dozens of ladybugs during certain weeks of the growing season. They love to lay their eggs on tansy. These feeding ladybugs will stick around to feed on the pests in your garden. The smokey-tar aroma of tansy makes it a moth and ant repellent.

Dill is a good cucumber companion from seedling to pickle jar because it directly repels aphids and spider mites, and attracts beneficial insects like parasitic wasps and lacewings that control cucumber beetles and other pests. This herb also appears to stimulate a better flavor in cucumbers as the two plants mature.

Another flower that attracts butterflies and increases tomato yields is garden heliotrope. It bears highly fragrant flowers in summer.

I love keeping this flower on my deck so that I can enjoy its fragrance. Its scent always reminds me of my Grandma’s garden or maybe the tropics in the dark hot summer evening.heliotropejpg

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Yours truly for a great garden with outstanding veggies and flowers.

Polly-organic gardener

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Marte Cliff March 4, 2009 at 1:21 am

Thanks for this information! I appreciate you sharing your expertise and will come back often.

I’m just getting ready to order seeds and start my tomatoes, etc. indoors. I’ll be sure to order some of those companion flowers to protect my tomatoes and broccoli.

Can hardly wait for the snow to go away and the ground to start warming up…

One question – is it your opinion that you can successfully start cucumbers indoors? I’ve heard yes and no. Our season is way too short to grow them if they have to start after the last frost.

Some years worse than others. Last year they didn’t get past blossoming.

online companies for surveys September 3, 2010 at 2:53 am

Thanks for this informative page. It helps to get some great advice from someone who is knowledgeable.The seasons are changing and it’s time to do some internal cleaning up

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