Vail Daily column: Companion planting will help your garden grow
June 8, 2014
Take the same basic ingredients as always — basil, tomatoes and lettuce — but this year, toss the salad plants and herbs into a different growing pattern.
Plant lettuce underneath the tomatoes and then plant the basil close by, so it's near the tomatoes. As tomatoes mature, they will create shade for the lettuce which is a cooler-season crop that will like being kept cool and shaded. Basil is important to this mix because tomatoes and basil have long been known as good companion plants. Not only are they a good marriage of flavors in the pasta sauce, but planting them near one another is mutually beneficial as they grow.
Basil improves the growth and flavor of tomatoes and will also repel thrips — a common Colorado garden pest. Also, add the typical Italian herbs to the mix by planting parsley, oregano and thyme and you will enhance the winning garden combo. Oregano is a flavorful herb that provides overall pest protection throughout the garden.
Maximize herbs as companions
Chives — Improve growth and flavor of carrots and tomatoes and also work well with carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage and mustard. Chives repel aphids from tomatoes and grapes. Avoid planting them near beans and peas.
Cilantro (coriander) — Repels aphids, spider mites and potato beetle.
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Dill — Plant with cucumbers to attract beneficial predators. It also repels aphids, spider mites and squash bug. Dill improves growth of cabbage and lettuce. Do not plant dill near carrots, caraway, cauliflower, corn, potato or tomatoes.
Garlic — Plant with beets for flavor and pest control, and plant near roses to repel aphids. It also benefits cukes, peas, lettuce and celery. Garlic accumulates sulfur, a naturally occurring fungicide which will help prevent disease.
Onions (Alliums) — Plant with carrots, chamomile, beets, strawberries, broccoli, dill, lettuce, summer savory and tomatoes. Onions planted with strawberries help the berries fight disease. Keep onions away from peas and asparagus.
Sage — Plant with broccoli, cauliflower, rosemary, cabbage and carrots. It deters cabbage moths, beetles, black flea beetles and carrot flies. Do not plant near cucumbers or onions. Allow sage to flower so it will attract many beneficial insects.
Tarragon — Plant throughout the garden as few pests like it. It also enhances growth and flavor of vegetables.
Dress up the garden
Alyssum attracts delicate beneficial insects, such as predatory wasps and attracts hoverflies whose larvae devour aphids.
Chrysanthemum has been used as botanical pesticides for centuries.
Lavender attracts butterflies and bees and repels fleas, whitefly and moths, but plant it away from doorways, walks and places where people gather to avoid bee stings.
Marigolds are well known for deterring pests. They keep soil free of bad nematodes, beetles and whiteflies and discourage many other insects. Use the scented variety and plant them throughout the garden, but avoid bean and cabbage plants.
Nasturtium is a great companion to radishes, cucumber, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and mustards. It deters aphids, squash bugs and striped pumpkin beetles and improves growth and flavor. Since it likes poor soil with low moisture and no fertilizer, set potted nasturtiums among garden beds. The leaves, flowers and seeds of nasturtiums are all edible and great in salads.
Zinnias attract hummingbirds, which eat whiteflies and attracts bees and other insect pollinators.
Becky Garber is a member of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, of which Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company, is a member. You may contact them by calling 970-468-0340.