I must confess…I have become obsessed with companion planting! I recently invested quite a bit of time researching the appropriate layout for the plants that are growing in my kitchen garden, and have subsequently moved some plants and added plants to my original layout.
Here is my updated Plangarden layout:
- Strawberries have been omitted (couldn’t find an organic option)
- Sweet potato, borage, and nasturtium have been added
- Asparagus and sage have been relocated
I relocated the asparagus and sage because through my companion planting research I discovered that asparagus does not like onion, garlic, and potato (duh, that’s exactly where I had it!), but loves basil and tomato. I learned that sage deters cabbage moths, so I moved the sage over near the brassicas.
How do companion plants work?
Every plant releases different chemical agents, either above ground through its leaves, or below ground from its roots. Every plant has special characteristics and growing habits. Companion plants provide one or some of the following benefits:
Produce a chemical that deters pests that are attracted to its companion
Produce a scent that reduces the pest’s ability to find its companion
Attract the same pest as its companion (a.k.a trap crop)
Provide food and shelter for beneficial natural pest predators
Reduce weed seedling numbers, by shading or choking weeds
Produce nutrients or growth stimulants for companion
Provide support for climbing plants
Provide shade for its companion
Change or enhance companion plants flavor
I would like to highlight two of my favorite new companion plants. Using these two beautiful plants is making my life a lot easier in the garden.
Nasturtiums are a gardener’s best friend because they fend off garden pests from neighboring plants. I’m growing them near my cucumbers, summer squash, and zucchini to help repel cucumber beetles and squash vine borers. This interesting annual also repel many different kinds of aphids. Though they do attract one species of aphid, the black aphid, you can use this to your advantage. If black aphids are already a problem, grow nasturtiums to keep aphids from destroying other plants. Then when the nasturtiums are covered in aphids, pull those plants up and destroy them, aphids and all.
In addition, nasturtiums produce decorative foliage, provide an ocean of brightly colored blossoms, and the entire plant is a tasty addition to salads! I’m anxiously awaiting the first blooms.
Borage is an annual plant with gorgeous blue flowers and leaves with the flavor of cucumbers. It is considered an herb, but is often grown in vegetable gardens because the plant attracts bees and is considered a good companion plant for tomatoes, squash and strawberries. I planted borage near my tomato plant because it’s even supposed to deter my arch enemy…tomato hornworm. If that’s not enough, borage is said to enhance the flavor of tomatoes growing nearby.
Here’s the garden on June 6, 2010.
There’s nothing better than witnessing nature’s wonder. Mother nature sure knows what she’s doing. Happy gardening!