October 16th, 2010
Long ago our grandmothers in their cottage gardens planted a wide variety of flowers, herbs and vegetables, mixed together in a seemingly random fashion. But over the generations gardeners have observed that some plants will grow better when planted close to another particular plant, or indeed that the reverse is true. Some plants like other plants and grow better when planted nearby. They are companions. Good friends.
Companion planting and using pest-repellent herbs increased the health and resistance of plants. For example, a well know one is basil with tomatoes, not only cooked, but grown together.
Nasturtiums will improve the strength and flavour of nearby plants, and are particularly good under apple trees, and near radishes to deter aphids and other bugs. I have planted some under my roses to check this out. Aparently aphids also don’t like parsley and our grandmothers quite often planted some in and around the roses to keep the aphids away.
Our grandmothers would often keep a few Bay leaves in the flour as they prevent weevils from infesting. If you place a few on shelves they will keep ants away, although some ants can be very determined. The bay leaves can also be placed in books to protect them from silverfish. In fact the whole tree is resistant to diseases and pests and will protect other plants in the area.
Marigolds, as well as being cheerful plants, excrete chemicals from their roots which repel soil nematodes, and of course, grandmother would have never been without her Lavender plants which when used in sachets either on their own or in combination with other dried herbs keep moths and silverfish out of clothes as well as keeping them sweetly scented.
So, plants make good companions both for each other and for us.