So Happy Together - Companion Planting

When I was planting this year’s garden, I decided this time I was going to mix things up a bit! In the past I’ve always planted flowers together in beds and vegetables in their own plot. As I was reading about companion plantings this spring, I learned that it works best when growing a diversity of plants: a medley of flowers and herbs among some vegetables, and a vegetable or two tucked away in a flower bed.
Companion planting is combining the right plants together to provide nutrients, protect against disease, repel pests and attract beneficial insects. Generations of gardeners have taken advantage of these natural relationships and benefits. Here are some tips for companion planting, depending on what you want to accomplish: Plants that nourish ? like lupines, peas and beans ? can pull nitrogen from the air and transform it into a usable nutrient in the soil. Plants that protect against disease ? like garlic, onions and chives will help prevent black spot on roses and scab on apples. And those pesky dandelions will deter fusarium wilt (a fungal disease) from attacking your tomatoes. Plants that repel unwanted insects ? like lavender, sage, oregano or other strong-scented herbs will scare off aphids. Some plants, like marigolds, contain thiopene in their roots which are toxic to certain soil-dwelling nematodes. This makes them a great companion for tomatoes and beans. Still other plants ? like cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower ? although safe for us to eat, can poison spider mites, mosquitoes. Japanese beetles will be done-in by white geraniums and larkspur. Plants that attract beneficial insects ? like sunflowers, zinnias and coreopsis attract lady beetles, lacewings, and hover flies for example. These beneficial adults and their larvae feed on the unwanted insects. Thyme, parsley, and lemon balm are among a few of the herbs that also attract these helpful bugs. I plan to mix and match these companions throughout my garden; I may even discover some beneficial combinations on my own. The end result is bound to be a healthier, more beautiful and productive garden.