Just like people enjoy having a good companion who enriches their lives plants feel similarly. Plants enjoy compatible neighbors next to whom a healthy existence can be easily achieved. When this phenomenon occurs naturally in the wild it’s simply the result of certain species being in the right place at the right time; when gardeners integrate it into their agricultural setting its called companion planting.
What is Companion Planting?
Centuries ago agriculturalists took advantage of companion planting discovering plants assisted each other in various ways including providing nutrients to soil, ample water reserves, and by warding off unwanted pests. While soil and water are important it was this last point that interested farmers greatly because if anything insects can be one of the most damaging factors to a crop.
Eventually, as chemical pesticides became widely used over the past century companion planting fell by the wayside. However, over time two problems became apparent that brought Companion Planting back from the dead. The first was the staggering health hazards associated with noxious chemicals including cancer and reproductive problems. The other was the fact many deadly substances don’t discriminate. This means that just like when an exterminator sprays a house and the poison doesn’t single out good bugs from bad ones the same holds true for chemicals used on crops.
With Companion Planting, the bad pests will be annoyed enough by certain scents to buzz off while good bugs will be attracted to your yard. Now you may be wondering does it truly matter what kinds of bugs visit your garden and the answer is yes! Unwanted insects including aphids, black beetles, tomato hornworms, earwigs, and slugs are examples of insects which love to eat leaves and more. Good insects include honey bees, lady hugs, dragon flies, and lacewings, all of which have special purposes but also act as predators against many of the above.
Companion planting is a great alternative to man made chemical pest control because it provides natural pest control. Companion planting is a humane, safe form of pest control that keeps the good bugs around and doesn’t require killing the unwanted ones.
Fortunately a lot of research has been compiled on the subject of Companion Planting and there are many great resources to choose from. Here are a few common vegetables everyone likes to grow and some companion plant combinations for pest control and attracting good insects in the garden.
Companion Planting for Your Garden:
Companion Planting For Tomatoes: Basil, chives, and parsley are good choices. Marigolds are also excellent at repelling pests (plus they add a colorful element to your garden!)
Companion Planting For Cucumbers: Although aromatic herbs usually do the trick cucumbers aren’t crazy about them but corn, water cress, and marigolds work.
Companion Planting For Radishes: They are very friendly with other veggies and herbs but for pest control try lettuce.
Companion Planting For Carrots: They don’t like dill so go with chives, rosemary, sage and things from the onion family.
The bottom line: Companion planting is just one facet of the overall organic gardening experience. Whether you have a small garden or intend on cultivating a larger yield it is a highly recommended way to farm your crops without having to use chemical pesticides that are known to be harmful to people and animals. When done right companion planting can be a good way to ward of bad pests and attract beneficial ones.
Guest post by Jakob Barry who is a home improvement journalist for Networx.com.