Companion Gardening – Plants Going Hand in Hand
For a successful garden, only good soil, sun, nutrients and disease-control are not enough. Plants also need companionship of some other plants to grow well. Plants have some substances present naturally in their roots, leaves, flowers etc that can repel and/or attract insects, and they also have some substances that help other varieties grow. This is the base of companion gardening. Companion gardening is also important for pest management. This type of gardening brings a well-balanced ecosystem to your garden, through which Nature can do its job perfectly.
Nature mixes a diversity of plants, animals, insects and other organisms in every ecosystem so that nothing is wasted. The death of one organism is the food for the other. Therefore if we work in our garden in a holistic way through companion gardening, we can create a garden that contains a healthy ecosystem and is beautiful to look at.
Benefits of Companion Gardening
Many gardeners find that because of companion gardening they can discourage destructive pests without losing the useful allies. Many varieties of flowers, herbs etc can be used as companion plants. Keep experimenting and observe what works well. You can even use some plants for borders, backdrops and even intermediate planting within your vegetable or flower beds according to your particular needs. Use native plants of your area to attract insects you want. Plants bearing open cup-shaped flowers usually attract beneficial insects. Using proper tools, like the best wheelbarrow, is recommended here, which will give you excellent results.
Companion gardening can blend beauty and reason, to provide you a joyful and healthy environment in your garden.
- Shade-seeking plants love the shelter offered by a wooded grove.
- These shade-seekers in turn protect soil from erosion with their dense tangle of shallow roots.
- Mountain laurel, azaleas, blueberries and other ericaceous (heath family) plants grow well in the acidic soils produced by oaks and pines.
- Legumes and some trees like alders have symbiosis with bacteria in the soil which help them to capture atmospheric nitrogen and create a fertilizer, thus enriching the soil, whereby plants thrive in their presence.
- Marigold is a real golden plant, because when planted with any garden plant, it repels nematodes, beetles, and even animal pests.
Vegetable Garden Tips
- Basil and Dill when planted within tomato plants protect the latter from hornworms.
- Sage planted within a cabbage patch control cabbage moths.
- Some plants can repel insects with their strong odors that confuse insects by masking the aroma of host plants.
- Carrots, parsley, parsnip and dill attract ladybugs, praying mantises and spiders that eat up insect pests.
- Some companion plants serve as trap plants, enticing insects to them. For example, nasturtiums attract aphids so much that the destructive insects flock to them sparing other plants.
- Sunflowers love the shadow of corn and as their roots take up different levels in the soil, they even don’t compete for nutrients and water.
- Leafy greens like Swiss chard and spinach grow well in the shadow of corn.
- Many of companion plants can be identified by using common sense, like radishes, lettuce and other rapidly growing plants planted between hills of winter squash or melons mature and can be harvested long before these vines require more leg room.
- Though onions and white garlic repel a variety of pests and are wonderful neighbors for most garden plants, they retard the growth of peas and beans.
- Growth of beans and potatoes is stunted in the company of sunflowers.
- Though cauliflower and cabbage are close relatives, they don’t love each other’s company at all!
Sometimes the number and ratio of various plants growing together is a factor in their compatibility, and sometimes there is no apparent reason why plants make good companions.
- You are taught that a weed-free garden is good, but that may not always be true. Some weeds absorb nutrients from deep soil bringing them to the surface and making them available to the surface soil and shallow-rooted plants, upon their death and decomposition.
- The relationship of the weed stinging nettle with many vegetable varieties is perhaps amongst the most interesting examples of strange companionship. For reasons that are unknown yet, plants grown in the company of stinging nettle show outstanding vigor and oppose spoilage.
Companion planting is mainly based on keen observation. Keep noting your plant combinations and their results from year to year, and share with other gardeners, and you too will get helpful tips from them.