Fighting Pests with Companion Plants
Cultivating a diverse mixture of plants can be a great way to encourage growth and naturally fight garden pests. Whether your crops are suffering from nitrogen deficiency or an infestation of flies, your solution may lie in a symbiotic relationship instead of artificial fertilizers and pesticides.
• Onions: Onions, garlic and other alliums deter aphids and carrot flies, making them a popular companion crop for almost any organic garden. Avoid planting them with beans or lentils, but cultivate them near your roses as an excellent natural pesticide. Carrots can return the favor if you allow them to flower by attracting beneficial insects like lacewings and predatory wasps.
• Beans: Beans host nitrogen-fixing bacteria, which acts as an excellent natural fertilizer for beets, carrots, rosemary, chard, celery and more. Together with corn and squash, beans are part of the “Three Sisters”, a well-known group of companion plants that have been grown together by Native Americans for centuries. The fertilizer they produce is too much for tomatoes, peppers and alliums (onion, garlic, leaks, etc.), but is beneficial to most other plants.
• Rosemary: Rosemary repels cabbage flies, bean beetles and other parasites. Broccoli and cabbage can particularly benefit from the protection that rosemary provides.
• Tarragon: If you only include one companion plant in your organic gardening arsenal, tarragon is a perfect choice. Tarragon has a scent that is detested by most pests, large and small, and it is compatible with virtually every other plant.
• Horseradish: If you have been frustrated in the past by any of the numerous diseases that plague potatoes, try planting them alongside horseradish. Horseradish naturally increases disease resistance in root vegetables.
In the wild, plants depend on other species of plants to provide shade, add nutrients to the soil and protect them from parasitic insects and molds. By welcoming these symbiotic relationships into your organic garden, you can solve many of the problems otherwise combated by artificial means.