Companion Planting 2
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We love any strategy that reduces human intervention in the vegetable garden.
Here are a few of our favourite tips for creating a productive garden with less personal effort.
An orderly vegetable patch can be a supermarket for pests. They wander up and down our neat ‘supermarket’ aisles, easily identifying food by shape or scent. Make hunting more challenging: don't plant straight rows of anything; mix plants so you don't have great blocks of any one shape or scent; plant flowers and herbs among the vegetables and vegetables among the flowers. The result is a pretty, pest-deceiving garden.
White cabbage moth is attracted to brassicas by their scent. Aromatic plants such as sage, dill, camomile, peppermint, rosemary, celery, onions, potatoes and dwarf zinnias are all useful in disguising this fragrance. As a bonus, dill attracts a wasp which controls white cabbage moth, and zinnias attract lady bugs to protect plants against sap-sucking aphids.
Planting to attract beneficial insects to eradicate populations of pests is a wise strategy. Alyssum, for instance, attracts beneficial wasps. Nasturtiums secrete a mustard oil, which many insects find mouth-watering, particularly the white cabbage moth, so that it leaves your brassicas alone. As well, nasturtium flowers repel aphids and the cucumber beetle; and the climbing variety, when grown up apple trees, will repel codling moth. Garlic helps keep aphids away from roses and raspberries and repels cabbage moth. A border of chives between lettuce, peas and cucumbers will also help keep aphids at bay.
Many plants take nitrogen from the air and fix it in the soil (more correctly, the bacteria associated with their roots do). You can use these plants as homegrown fertiliser to feed garden soils. Broad beans, peas, lucerne, sweet peas, lupins, clover and soy beans can all be used in this way. They will elevate levels of nitrogen in the soil, making it perfect for planting salad crops.