There are few things as satisfying as finally getting your garden started and seeing all the plants exactly where you want them to be. The excitement of the growing season to come is one of the very best parts of being a gardener. You may put a lot of thought into what you want to plant where based on factors like light and crop rotation, but another idea that you may want to consider is the concept of companion planting.
What is Companion Planting?
Companion planting is a simple concept that entails planting two or more varieties together in hopes that they will actually help each other grow. There are flowers, herbs, and vegetables out there that can reap a ton of benefits from being situated near other plants. Of course, you'll want to remember that companion planting doesn't work for every plant, and that there are some varieties that are best grown on their own.
Benefits of Companion Planting
Companion planting has become extremely popular in recent years, and that’s because there are quite a few different benefits to be reaped from it. Pest control is one of the biggest. Imagine putting a few particular plants in the ground and never having to deal with deer, rabbits, aphids, or moths again. Alternatively, you can use companion planting to attract beneficial insects to your garden. For instance, ladybugs and predatory wasps can be brought into your yard to protect your other plants from the pests that want to destroy your hard work.
Alternatively, you can use companion planting to bring in insects that are beneficial for pollination purposes. Attracting bees and other pollinators to your vegetable garden by strategically planting a few flowers in it is a perfect way to do so. Your vegetables’ flowers can probably attract pollinators on their own, but a little extra help is always a good idea.
On top of all that, companion planting can also provide these little critters with homes to stay in while visiting your garden. This means that they won’t ever have to go far for shelter.
Companion planting can also help you maximize your use of space in the garden, which means fitting more plants in the same amount of space! This concept, which is also called "interplanting," is actually quite old, with one of its earliest forms being the "Three Sisters" technique practiced by Native Americans. Some examples of maximizing space in this fashion include planting carrots underneath tomatoes and using the area under trees to plant herbs, garlic, and onions.
Companion Planting Examples
Pairing a few easy-to-grow plants can be an excellent way to try your hand at companion planting.
Marigolds can be great when planted around your major crops, mostly because they help keep away nematodes, which can harm your plants' roots. They do this by producing thiophene, which itself is a natural nematode deterrent.
Planting dill and tomatoes together is an excellent way to protect your tomatoes from tomato hornworms. This is because the sneaky little pests will always attack the dill, leaving your tomatoes completely unscathed. On top of that, dill can also be used to draw ladybugs to your garden.
Other Ways to Use Companion Planting
Don't think that you have to use companion planting as a way to format your garden, as you can also apply this methodology in other ways. For instance, container gardening often goes hand in hand with companion planting. You can create interesting and beneficial container arrangements by planting certain varieties together.
In reality, you can use companion planting all around your home. For instance, planting lavender, lemongrass, and citronella around your doors and windows can be a great way to naturally repel mosquitoes. These plants are also great around fountains, ponds, and other open sources of water where mosquitoes tend to lay their eggs. They may not keep every single mosquito away, but they can still be very beneficial.
Companion planting is a great way to get the most out of your garden without having to do anything extra. All you need is a chart to help you identify what plants offer what benefits to others and some time to come up with a garden plan. Follow that plan, and you'll be able to to get all the pest control, space maximization, and other benefits that come from companion planting. Try it out to make your life just a little easier.