Companion Planting 1
Borage. Photo - Valerie Giles/Gettyimages.com
Companion planting is about wisely using plants to reduce the work of the gardener. These are our favourite garden workers.
Borage is a friend to tomatoes, squash and strawberries. It deters tomato worm, attracts bees, produces loads of edible blue flowers and, best of all, improves growth and flavour of strawberries. Plant from seed or seedling now. Plants grow 1m x 1m.
Comfrey is revered by organic gardeners for its ability to feed flowering vegetables. Soak leaves in a bucket of water, then siphon off the ‘tea’ and use as a liquid feed over tomatoes, passionfruit, eggplant, citrus, strawberries and potatoes. Add the leaf waste to the compost as an enricher and activator. Plant from seed or plantlet. Plants die down in winter and grow 0.7x 0.7m. Available mailorder, if you don’t have a friend who can slip you a rooted piece.
Comfrey. Photo - Mark Hamblin/Gettyimages.com
Beans and peas have nitrogen-fixing root nodules that help improve the structure and nutrient profile of the soil as they grow. After the pea harvest grow nitrogen-loving leafy greens to make the most of the improved soil. Both running and dwarf beans can be planted in summer.
English marigolds (Calendula) are quick to get powdery mildew so we use them as an indicator plant. As soon as they are struck down we spray prone plants such as zucchini, pumpkins and tomatoes with Eco-fungicide. Marigold petals are fluorescent orange. We like them sprinkled over salads.
English Marigolds Calendula. Photo - Gettyimages.com
Garlic helps keep aphids away from ornamentals and edibles – as well as roses. It also repels cabbage white butterfly when planted around cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and kale. Don’t plant near peas and beans. Plant cloves in April, in groups around other seedlings. Harvest October – November.
Tree lucerne (Tagasaste) is a fast-growing ornamental shrub. On farms it’s used as a windbreak and nutritious green fodder for grazing animals; in the garden it can be coppiced to provide a nitrogen-rich mulch.
+ dill attracts a predatory wasp that controls cabbage white butterfly
+ pyrethrum deters pests when planted around the vegetable garden
+ thyme protects cabbages and improves the taste of most vegetables. Plant it at the front of vegetable beds.