Growing fruits and vegetables can be a vexing activity, especially when having to deal with pests and diseases. But before reaching for the spray bottle or throwing in the towel completely you should try flower power. Keep common ailments like aphids to carrot fly at bay by planting annual flowers and herbs. These remedies are readily available in our garden centre in Poynings!
SOME GOOD COMPANIONS TO FIGHT OFF VERMIN
Our annuals are not only wonderful to look at, but can also tackle pests when they are bothering your plants. A few examples:
- carrots and spring onions: carrot flies find their prey by smell, detecting carrot foliage a mile off. Plant pungent spring onions alongside, though, and their smell confuses the flies completely;
- roses and garlic: a forest of garlic planted with roses produces essential oils that the rose absorbs into its system, making it taste revolting to aphids;
- broad beans and nasturtiums: blackflies enjoy nasturtiums even more than broad bean shoots – so plant these annual flowers and the flies abandon your veg for them;
- tomatoes and French marigolds (Tagetes): the French marigold is another strongly-scented plant. Whiteflies hate the smell of French marigolds, so plant these with tomatoes to keep them whitefly-free;
- lettuce and chervil: you'll have lettuce minus the aphids if you grow them alongside a generous row of leafy chervil. Some say slugs dislike it, too. Both lettuce and chervil make great salad ingredients.
PLANTS NEED GOOD COMPANIONS TO BRING OUT THE BEST IN THEM
Just like people, plants need companions to bring out their best qualities. Not only for aesthetic reasons, but also to ensure the best growing conditions. For example, roses are greatly helped by scented geraniums, parsley and marigolds, because they ward off insects, such as beetles and aphids. Furthermore, lavender and lady’s mantle hide the ‘leggy’ bottoms that roses tend to have, thereby adding to the overall aesthetic qualities of your flower garden.
THESE PLANTS SHOULD ALWAYS BE PLANTED TOGETHER
There are some plants that just cannot live without each other. Be sure to always plant corn and beans together. The beans attract insects that prove to be beneficial for the growth of the corn, because they eat leafhoppers and beetles. Lettuce needs a tall flower, such as the spider flower, to give the leaves the best shade to grow in. Cauliflowers and dwarf zinnias should also grow together. Dwarf zinnias produce nectar that attracts ladybugs and other insects. These help protect the cauliflower. Do you also need accompanying plants for in your garden? Please ask the staff in our Poynings garden centre for more information and advice about using herbs and annuals as companion plants.