Thursday, 27 December 2012

Herbal Garden Companions

Companion plants are herbs, flowers or veggies that attract pollinators to your garden, ensuring a larger and happier crop.

They may also be plants that attract the good guys, the beneficial bugs, to your garden, which then either devour or kill the bad bugs.

There are also companion plants which repel or confuse bugs with their scent, thereby keeping them away from your goodies.

And still others are used as traps or host plants for the bad bugs, drawing the bad guys to gnaw on them instead of on your food crops.

Companion planting is also about planting the right veggies together so that they in some way benefit from each others proximity. Such as the Three Sisters Garden plants of corn, squash and beans. The squash covers the ground, keeping away weeds and preventing moisture loss, while the corn grows tall and sturdy, providing a trellis for the beans to clamber up. Beans beans fix the nitrogen in the soil to feed the roots and help to stabilise the shallow rooted corn.

However, that will be another days topic, while today's post focuses more on bugs, the good and bad and the ugly.

Here are some common herbs and flowers that will help you with your organic gardening and pest control ....

Marigolds ... Red Disco

These plants keep the bad bugs from your plants....

Marigolds (repel Asparagus Beetles and Nematodes)
Sage (repels Cabbage Moths and Carrot Rust Flies)
Scented Geraniums (repels Japanese Beetles ..these beetles love corn, crab apples, grapes, and roses)
Catmint (repels Aphids and Squash Bugs) 
Borage (repels Tomato Hornworms)
Parsley (repels beetles and aphids)
Feverfew (repels aphids)
Basil (repels mosquito's, tomato hornworm, mites, beetles and aphids)
Catnip (repels flea beetles)
Coriander/Cilantro (repels aphids)
Hyssop (repels cabbage moths)
Nasturtiums (repels aphids, white fly)
Oregano (repels cabbage moths)
Spearmint (deters ants)

Alliums - (Onions, garlic, chives, leeks and shallots) planted amongst your carrots helps to keep away the carrot rust fly, and they also repel slugs, aphids and cabbage worms when planted amongst the tomatoes, peppers, broccoli and cabbages. 


Pollinator attractors...

Bees like purple or blue, however, not red!
Butterflies and Hummingbirds like red, orange and yellow!

Cilantro/Coriander attracts bees.
Blue Hyssop attracts bees.
Dill attracts bees.

Bees love Hyssop!
These guys bring in the beneficial bugs... the ones that eat the bad bugs... These include the parasitic wasps, lacewings and lady bugs, beetles, hover flies and robber flies.

In general, the lacewing larvae and the lady bug larva actually eat much more aphids and bad bugs than does the mature adult. If you have never seen lady bug larvae, please note that it looks kinda like a little black armadillo and is actually about 3 times the size of the adult lady bug. Please make sure you know who and what you are spraying in your garden as it would be tragic to accidentally spray these super duper bug destroyers.   


Queen Anne's Lace

Zinnias attract the good bugs!

These guys act as traps or lures, are sacrificial crops that you plant in order to attract the bad bugs to them and therefore keep them away from your crops...

Nasturtiums - For luring aphids and caterpillars away from your peppers, kale and other goodies

Nettles - Attract the aphids early in the season, in perfect time for the lady bug larva to come along and clean them up.
Chervil - Try this herb if you have an issue with slugs.
Sorrel - Is also reputed to attract slugs, so plant it near your lettuce and spinach to lure them away.

Radishes - You will often notice the tiny holes of the flea beetle on your radish leaves, which makes it an easy trap crop to place near your cabbages to lure the flea beetles away.

Blue Hubbard Squash or a pumpkin is often planted amongst squashes to lure the squash vine borer away from the main crops.

Nasturtiums make great trap crops. 

The best defence against bad bugs and enticement for good bugs is diversity.
Plant a wonderful large variety of herbs, flowers, and vegetables to create all kinds of habitats.
Take note of your successes so that you can repeat them, and also the failures to prevent them.

All the more reason to plant a wonderful potager aka kitchen garden, a combination of this and that for a healthy thriving garden.

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