Ultimate Companion Planting Guide
Part 2 of 2
Pinetree Garden Seeds
Set Your Traps
The age-old practice of using trap crops can divert unwanted pests from your prized plantings and toward more sacrificial seedlings—naturally. Trap crops should be much more appealing to the pest than the plant you want to preserve and can be quite pleasant additions to your garden.
Because space is always at a premium in our test gardens, we like adding shade-tolerant varieties of trap crops beneath the sun-loving leaves of their taller neighboring crops. For instance, nasturtiums are fairly compact and are like candy to aphids while their attractive, showy colors can create eye candy for you.
Another favorite? Radishes. Radishes sprout so quickly in the spring before other crops get going. When starving insects eat them up they start to develop a taste for those peppery leaves and will return to them even when other crops catch up. Try a few rows of radishes throughout your garden—they are an easy line of defense to replenish all season long!
Plant To Attract Beneficial Insects…
If you are trying to protect plantings from caterpillars or grubs, chamomile, daisies, and mints can bring wasps and flies to police your beds. Worried about ground pests? Low-lying plantings provide shady cover for battalions of beneficial beetles.
…And To Deter Destructive Pests
The particular pests you are fighting will be unique to your microclimate and crops. Here at Pinetree Garden Seeds in rural Maine, USA, we find ourselves fighting aphids, Colorado potato beetles, Japanese beetles, ticks, and tomato hornworms.
Chives, coriander, and the previously mentioned nasturtiums are all great choices to control aphid populations.
- Japanese Beetles
Garlic, rue, and tansy can take on voracious Japanese beetles.
- Tomato Hornworms
Fennel is our favorite hornworm fighter—and it’s a delicious garden crop of its own. Whatever survives the hornworm onslaught you will be so happy to cook at home!
If you are trying to fight a different type of garden pest, you will be able to find plenty of suggestions online. You should also turn to local gardening groups or our Facebook group, ROOTED, for experienced advice and encouragement. We are all in this battle together!
Be Mindful Of Monoculture
If your garden is lacking in variety, you are inadvertently inviting pests to an all-you-can-eat buffet that they will keep coming back for. (And next time, they’ll bring friends.) Variations in size, shape, color, and aromas combine to overwhelm and bewilder bugs, distracting them from their favorite foods. (Imagine trying to find your favorite ice cream on a table piled high with treats!)
If you have a particular crop that gets chomped, again and again, try planting multiple varieties that will bloom, set, and ripen at different times, or break up your planting across sections of your garden interspersed with other crops. Not only will you bewilder bad bugs, but you will also attract a variety of acceptable additions (like luring ladybugs to devour aphids).
Companion Planting Can Go Beyond Bugs
Did you know that some plantings can help you avoid animal foraging in your garden as well? Lavender deters woodchucks, rabbits, and even deer. Deer also avoid any strongly scented plants, so planting salvias, sages, peonies, or iris around your vegetables can turn their appetites.
Through observation, experimentation, and lots of patience, you will soon find the best solution for your particular garden pest problems. And when you do, we’d love to know what worked!
Article “Ultimate Companion Planting Guide“, courtesy of Pinetree Garden Seeds.