How TO... MASTER COM­PAN­ION PLANT­ING

Country Living (UK) - - The Good Life -

Cer­tain plants make ex­cel­lent (raised) bed-fel­lows and for gen­er­a­tions gar­den­ers have cap­i­talised on this, sow­ing se­lected flow­ers along­side fruit and veg­eta­bles in or­der to get the best from their crops. Some plants help to en­cour­age ben­e­fi­cial in­sects or de­ter pests with­out the need for sprays and chem­i­cals, while oth­ers quite lit­er­ally act as a sup­port. Utilise these plant friend­ships to re­duce your work­load in the veg patch and se­cure a bumper har­vest.

PUT THEM OFF THE SCENT

Grow­ing big blocks of the same crop in one space makes it eas­ier for pests to find their favourite plants and quickly work their way through them. Some plants can con­fuse in­sects with their smell. Plant­ing al­li­ums (such as onions, gar­lic, spring onions, leeks or chives) in between rows of car­rots can throw car­rot root flies off the scent, while the pun­gent fra­grance of French marigolds around the green­house can de­ter white­fly from toma­toes.

MAKE A SAC­RI­FICE

Many cater­pil­lars love munch­ing through nas­tur­tiums. Hav­ing a patch near bras­si­cas means cab­bage white but­ter­flies will be more likely to lay their eggs on the nas­tur­tiums than your broc­coli or cab­bage. They’re also loved by aphids, so can help lure the sap-suck­ers away from run­ner beans and French beans.

EN­COUR­AGE PREDA­TORS

Avoid the need to spray crops in­fested by black­fly and green­fly by en­cour­ag­ing their nat­u­ral preda­tors in­stead. The pretty flow­ers of poached egg plants are loved by hov­er­flies, who will hap­pily de­vour nearby aphids while they’re in the area. Lady­bird- and lacewing-lar­vae like eat­ing green­fly, so

lure them into your gar­den with fra­grant peren­ni­als such as phlox and laven­der.

SPACE SAVERS

Get the most from your patch by tak­ing ad­van­tage of the ways plants grow: tall, trail­ing and climb­ing. The ‘three sis­ters’ tech­nique is the best way to cap­i­talise on this – tall sweet­corn acts as a climb­ing sup­port for run­ner beans, while ram­bling squash clam­ber over the ground, act­ing as a mulch to keep the soil moist. The roots of the beans fix ni­tro­gen in the soil to feed the corn and squash. In a sim­i­lar ap­proach, quick-grow­ing crops, such as salad leaves or radishes, planted in between slow-grow­ing parsnips and sprouts max­imise the space and pre­vent weeds from grow­ing.

FLAVOUR­SOME FRIENDS

Some gar­den­ers be­lieve that plant­ing toma­toes and basil in the same bed im­proves the flavour of both. They pre­fer sim­i­lar con­di­tions and feed, so will max­imise your space and time – plus they’re a match made in heaven on the plate.

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