Companion planting is a natural method of improving the flavour of homegrown produce, repel garden pests, and encourage the plants and flowers we love.
Although it’s most popular in Europe, where the weather and temperature make for perfect growing conditions, companion planting still works well in Australia or the US, as many experienced gardeners will attest.
Here’s what you need to know to get started on giving your garden a natural boost.
Companion planting involves pairing plants together in the garden that will assist each other in some way. For example, basil plants are often paired with tomatoes, because the basil is a great fly deterrent and will stop fruit flies from laying their eggs inside your ripening tomatoes.
Certain plants also improve soil quality by processing unwanted minerals. For example, legumes capture nitrogen and send this down into the soil, which improves the surrounding plants’ soil quality and promotes neighbouring plant growth. There are many different combinations of fruits, vegetables and herbs that work well together, so if you are starting a herb garden, search online to find out which plants work well together.
As any gardener knows, bees and pollinating insects are an extremely important part of a garden ecosystem. Bees pollinate flowers, which then leads the process of growing your own fruit and vegetables.
Herbs like thyme, sage, coriander, chives, and mint are great at attracting beneficial insects to the garden bed, as are flowers including borage, calendula, lavender, echinacea and marigold at attracting for pollinating insects. Many of these flowers attract hoverflies, which are a natural predator of aphids and other garden pests.
Plants such as basil and mint are great at repelling pests because their aromatic smell confuses the pesky critters and stops them targeting the plants nearby. Other plants such as nasturtiums work by pulling pests away from other plants. The nasturtiums secrete a mustard oil which is extremely attractive to pests, meaning they leave your more precious plants alone.
Many plants improve the soil quality for their neighbours. If you are focussing on soil quality, though, you need to be careful that you pair up correctly because all plants need different soil conditions and minerals. For example, while potatoes improve the soil quality for plants such as beans and broccoli, they reduce the growth of pumpkins and apples.
To get started on creating your own companion garden, here are some plants that are great to start with:
The herb’s great for repelling flies and mosquitoes.
This renaissance herb is back in fashion and is perfect for attracting bees and increasing the yield of plants.
The plant best known for being used as a tea is ideal for deterring flies and mosquitoes and adding root strength to neighbouring plants.
This plant assists in compost fermentation and acts as a general insecticide.
French Marigolds look great, repel white flies, and exterminate soil nematodes.
The pungent bulbs work to deter aphids from roses.
The common flowering plan is a great-all rounder that attracts pollinating insects, acts as a magnet for pests, and also repels aphids and cucumber beetles.