Companion planting is a great way to repel insects, attract pollinators and beneficial insects to the garden, along with helping to improve soil fertility. It also offers spatial benefits, for example, tall-growing, sun-loving plants may share space with lower-growing, shade tolerant plants.
By grouping plants together they become mutually beneficial, creating an ecosystem within the garden for plants to thrive.
COMMON COMPANION PLANTS:
- Some plants are grown as sacrificial plants. Nasturtium for example, attracts caterpillars, aphids and whitefly, so planting it alongside or around vegetables such as lettuces, cabbages, beans and tomatoes will protect them. The adult insects will lay their eggs on the nasturtium leaves instead. The nasturtium plant can be pulled while the eggs are at a junior stage to rid the garden of this cycle, catching it before they become a problem.
- Plant marigolds close to crops that suffer from aphids and greenfly. Marigolds emit a scent that repels aphids and attracts hoverflies, which are a predator of aphids.
- Marigolds are also effective against soil nematodes, but need to be grown over a whole season to get a cumulative build-up in the soil.
- Lavender, marigold, rosemary and feverfew (pyrethrum daisy) are good repellent plants for the flower and vege garden to deter mosquitoes, flies, fleas and ticks.
- Certain flowers can also be grown near edible crops to attract insects for pollination. Bee friendly plants include: calendula, marigolds, sunflowers, poppies, clover, nasturtiums, Queen Anne’s Lace, echinacea, borage and purple tansy (phaecelia).
- Garlic planted among roses will help deter aphids.
Plant flowers in Tui Rose & Shrub mix, a specialty planting mix containing potassium to enhance flower production and seaweed extract to promote strong root development, prevent root disorders and encourage plant vigour. Feed with Tui NovaTec Premium fertiliser – a slow release fertiliser providing a sustained release of easy-to-absorb nitrogen, to keep your flowers blooming.
Fragrant herbs are not only great to use fresh in cooking, but also great companion plants. Add them to your flower beds and vege patch between crops.
- Sage is a great herb to plant around celery crops as it helps keep aphids away.
- Hyssop deters white cabbage butterfly from brassicas such as broccoli, cabbages and Brussels sprouts.
- Basil improves the flavour of tomatoes when planted alongside. Basil can also be planted alongside capsicums.
- Basil, mint, spearmint, tansy and sweet woodruff help deter flies, mosquitoes, fleas and ticks.
- Borage attracts pollinators to the garden when flowering, it is also a natural source of potassium, calcium and minerals. Plant alongside strawberries.
- Companion herbs can help improve soil structure and fertility. Comfrey has a deep penetrating tap-root that opens up the soil structure and improves drainage. Comfrey leaves are a natural source of potassium, when cut and laid on top of the soil, the leaves enrich the soil and so are beneficial to hearting, flowering and fruiting plants. The leaves can be steeped in water and used to make a comfrey tea, this can be applied as a liquid feed for garden plants.
- Celery keeps white cabbage butterfly away as they don't like the smell of it. Celery is a great companion for brassicas and beans, plant one celery plant to every six plants.
- Grow carrots and leeks together. Both have strong scents that drive away each other’s pests.
- Asparagus, basil, carrots, celery and parsley are ideal companion plants for tomatoes to help each other grow. Tomatoes are also compatible with chives and onion.
- Nitrogen fixing peas and beans improve soil fertility. Plant brassicas and sweetcorn where beans have been growing the previous season.
- Sweetcorn does well planted with potatoes, peas, beans and squash.
Plant vegetables in Tui Vegetable Mix, a high quality natural-based planting mix containing the right blend of nutrients to provide your veges with the best possible start and sustained growth throughout the season. Fertilise every four weeks during key growth periods with Tui Vegetable Food, a rich formulation of fertilisers including dolomite, blood and bone and powdered sheep manure designed to encourage healthy vegetable growth and improve soil structure.
Use plants to encourage good bugs which in turn eat the bad bugs. Plant a mixture of flowers and herbs amongst vegetables and fruit trees to encourage a healthy diversity of insects to move into the garden.
- Crop rotation is important and goes hand in hand with companion planting. Avoid growing tomatoes and potatoes in the same space each season as they are from the same family and susceptible to the same pests and diseases.
- Make sure companions are planted at the same time as your edible crops to prevent insects from taking over the vege patch.
- Grow plants in the same conditions as they enjoy. Plants that enjoys hot and dry conditions and a free draining soil won't thrive in cool moist conditions with a moisture retentive soil rich in organic matter.
Excerpts taken with permission from The Tui NZ Vegetable Garden by Sally Cameron and The Tui NZ Vegetable Garden 3rd Ed. by Rachel Vogan. Published by Penguin Books. Copyright © Penguin Books 2009 & 2012
- Harvest in 60-85 days