One of the best ways to stimulate your garden is by implementing companion gardening. No matter is you garden from raised beds or simply have a few container, your garden can benefit from container gardening! Companion gardening is simply grouping plants together that will benefit from one another.
There are many reasons to companion garden, one if for reducing chemical pesticides. I am all about not having to use anything harmful in my gardens, even if it is for pests. Why not let your plants benefit from what other plants can do naturally for them? Certain plants release chemicals and scents from their roots and leaves that naturally can deter certain pests. Why not use that to your benefit and place those next to more vulnerable crops?
Marigolds are known for producing their strong smelling aroma and in turn deter many types of unwanted bugs. Plant them generously throughout your garden in different varieties to provide color and beauty as well as deter those unwanted visitors.
Sweet Basil is a plant that can repel aphids, mosquitoes (amen), asparagus beetles and tomato hornworm. Both are perfect additions to your garden and grow small enough they are planted nicely next to your beautiful tomato plants that can benefit greatly from both plants.
I really enjoy the diversity I can receive from my raised beds. By using companion planting and diversifying my plantings I allow for nature to run its course. You can attract the beneficial insects and pollinators to your garden by inter-planting. We all love the beauty that flowers add to our gardens. Yarrow, goldenrod, dill, bee balm, and lavender have long been favorites to add to gardens. They not only add beauty but also attract beneficial insects with the sources of pollen and nectar that they provide.
If you are going to plant six tomato plants, why not split them up and plant 3 on each side of the garden. Then you can use companion planting to plant basil, peppers, cucumbers, garlic, parsley and marigolds around your tomatoes. If you are hit by pests, your crop will be a little harder to find being divided, but you also have the added advantage of the insect repelling facets of its neighbors. Plus you are able to make the most of the space you have by utilizing the low growing areas around your tomato plants with other crops to harvest.
Companion plantings can also be referred to as “nurse cropping” where the larger crops can provide shade and wind protection from smaller more vulnerable crops. By using a larger plant to shade your lettuce, you should be able to extend your growing season. It may take a small amount of work to research what crop is compatible to be grown with another but you should be able to have a larger yield along with a more beautiful garden space.
To read in detail about what plants you can group together to benefit from companion gardening read this article, Carrots Love Tomatoes over at Mother Earth News.
I missed out on sharing this gardening journal with you weeks ago, but here is a free downloadable gardening journal for you to track your plantings, weather, successes, failures, pest problems, etc. so that in the coming years you can benefit from learning what did and didn’t work. That maybe those broccoli plants should have been started indoors a little earlier or that your fall planting should have gone in slighter later than you thought. By keeping a gardening journal you can gain so much insight into what adjustments you can make to have a more beneficial harvest, which is what we all hope for!