The true marvels of nature never stop to amaze us. One of the most astonishing topics in gardening is that of plant and vegetable companions. In summary, even fruit, vegetables and plants have friends.
Flowers, for example, are of course beautiful to look at and admire. Nonetheless, they can serve very practical uses in the vegetable garden. These include:
- Keeping pests away
- Attracting pest predators
- Attracting pollinators
- Controlling weeds
Vegetables growing in isolation are very vulnerable to pests. Growing the right flowers can attract beneficial insects that feed on these pests. The ideal flowers are those that are rich in pollen and nectar. These are normally flowers with a single ring of petals.
Another advantage is the amazing pattern of colours, textures and smells that flowers can bring to a vegetable garden. This, in turn, can create confusion for pests, as it makes it more difficult for them to properly locate the vegetables they normally target to feed on. In this case, certain pests would be guided away or confused through scent.
Marigold flowers, for example, can serve a dual purpose. They can deter unwanted pests from visiting the garden. At the same time, they can attract beneficial insects which are critical to your garden’s health. These flowers are an excellent companion to tomatoes who are very prone to attacks by pests and other unwanted insects.
Other flowers have the potential of suppressing weeds whilst improving the soil’s health thanks to their roots. Ideally, low growing and non-invasive flowers are chosen with a dense growth habit.
Perennial flowers are a favourite for many gardeners taking care of their vegetable gardens and attract pollinator insects such as bees, butterflies and moths. Many herbs, too, can serve such beneficial uses, such as oregano and lavender, who produce flowers that attract ladybugs.
Annuals and Biennials have a different life cycle then perennials and can grow quickly to provide a gardener with fast impact as desired. Another advantage is that many flowers will propagate on their own by self-seeding from one year to the next, such as Poppies.
Scattering seeds on well-prepared soil in advance will give these flowers time to grow, for them to be ready when you need them the most.
Computer software can also be used to better plan your vegetable garden, provide information and suggest the right companions for the right type of vegetable.
Some practical examples of how vegetables have friends include:
- Basil: Basil can help increase the yield of tomatoes if grown relatively close. Basil also has the potential of improving the flavour of lettuce
- Broccoli: Mint and sage have the power to keep cabbage moths away and protect your precious vegetable
- Carrots: two important friends are chives and rosemary. Chives can improve the flavour, whilst rosemary keeps away carrot flies
- Tomatoes: Both basil and mint can enhance growth and taste
Gardeners that grow various plants together should aim to also group them by their water needs. Vegetables such as tomatoes, which are deep-rooted vegetables, should be placed together. They will normally grow stronger with less frequent watering required, which enters into the soil when given in the right quantities.
Flowers have an incredibly important role in nature. They brighten our world, make people happy, and help gardeners in their daily work.
If you found this post interesting, you might also like the following:
- Garden Flowers – How to Grow Fascinating Flowers
- Gardening Interview – Sharon’s Hoyas
- Olive Trees – How to Grow Olive Trees
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