Monday, 28 May 2007


Photo:Rhubarb protects beans from blackfly

What is companion planting and can you give me some suggestions what I can use to keep pests of my vegetable plants. Thanks BJ Carn.

Companion planting is a way of growing healthy plants that do not get too infested with pests and disease. The addition of certain plants also stimulates the growth of others; nasturtiums are great for attracting greenfly away from your brassicas, peas and beans. In a way it resembles nature and thankfully, if it is done correctly (with trail and error I might add), it eliminates the use of sprays. Some examples of this would be to grow strong smelling herbs amongst your vegetables. Rosemary will protect beans against weevils: rosemary, sage, thyme and mint will keep cabbage moths away. Basil will keep flies away from potatoes; chives deter aphids, mint deters ants; garlic protects potatoes against blight and horseradish protects the spud from beetles. Some vegetables help to keep pests off other vegetables. Rhubarb protects beans against blackfly; leeks protect carrots from the carrot fly; celery keeps moths away from cabbage; tomatoes keep beetles away from asparagus; lettuce protects radishes; and onions protect beetroot.

The wonders of nature do not end there either. Some plants can also protect vegetables. Zinnias keep most pests away from cucumbers, melons and marrows. Marigolds are a must in the garden too and they can be steeped in hot stock and used as a saffron substitute to add colour to rice. They are particularly useful at protecting beans. There is a tall relative called Tagetes minuta, which keeps pests away from beans, potatoes, tomatoes and strawberries. With trial and error and a varied planting scheme in the vegetable patch we should be able to keep most of the pests at bay this summer!


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