If you have read my previous blogs you will know I have had an issue with caterpillars. Today I picked off a handful of the critters off our rocket plants which have been shredded to near death. They have also had a nibble on most of our herbs but seem to only really like rocket and sage oddly enough. Anyway this blog is about companionship, we all need a best friend right? Mine is my wonderful partner who has been by my side through thick and thin. Our plants don’t really have any best friends at the moment, but that is about to change.
Companion planting is not only a great system for pest control but it is also really helpful for plant growth and protection from diseases. Coriander, I was told isn’t very easy to grow successfully in New Zealand. When I first planted ours it didn’t do very well at all I ended up taking our three plants out of the pot it was in and putting them back in seed pots with seed mix which strengthened them a bit. I then decided to try them with another plant that liked similar conditions and that was our basil. Since putting this into the same pot two of the three plants have thrived the third unfortunately died before I could transfer it but two out of three isn’t bad. The basil also took off it’s growth tripled, I’m not sure what it is about the two but they seem to really like to be planted together. So if you are wanting fresh coriander I would suggest trying this trick.
I’m really wanting to create a little ecosystem in our garden instead of what we currently have which is I guess the traditional veggie garden where you are constantly having to battle with bugs, soil conditions weeds etc. Companion planting eradicates the need to constantly battle because the plants do all the work. They condition the soil for other plants growth and the protect each other from pests and diseases. They also can protect smaller, younger plants from harsh weather conditions until they are strong enough to survive on their own. Plants in nature never grew the way we try to grow them in our gardens in such an organised and structure fashion. With plots of individual crops all by themselves. It is common knowledge in New Zealand gardening the importance of crop rotation to keep the nutrient content of your soil up but this is because of the way we garden not what we garden. If we allowed plants to grow in a more natural way, a little more untamed we would probably have to spend less time fighting with our gardens and more time enjoying them. Of course having a companion garden can be organised so as you produce the food you wish and know where plants are growing but if we add in known companions with those plants it can reduce the amount of work we do.
Speaking of work, I had my first day back the other day. I was a change to be back in such a structured environment but it was a good change. It also gave me time whilst doing paper work to think about where I would like to go next with our garden. Companion planting is it. Realistically we are not financially able to just up and leave work and just work on our garden every day, though that would be nice. Which means our garden needs to be a little more independent from us. I guess in a way developing a functioning productive garden isn’t much different from raising a child. In the beginning they need a lot of attention, a lot of love, protection and guidance. But the ultimate goal is a garden that looks after itself mostly and you get to enjoy it.
I found this video which explains companion planting really well, it is Australian but it is probably the closest to home video I have found on the subject and better yet the garden he is doing it in is only 80 meters squared. You can learn so much from Youtube, I managed to pull apart my laptop and install a new fan for $20 instead of paying a technician close to $200 and I have no knowledge on computers what so ever. Any way follow the link here if you would like to watch the video.
I also found a few other things out which I’ll list here:
Basil can be planted near most crops but you should keep it away from rue, it improves growth and flavor and repels mosquitoes.
Bush type Beans should be planted near beets, cabbage, carrots, catnip, cauliflower, corn, cucumbers, marigolds, potatoes and strawberries. Keep away from fennel, garlic, leeks, onions and shallots. Potatoes and Marigolds repel Mexican bean beetles (not sure we get them in New Zealand) and catnip repels flea beetles.
Broccoli and Brussel sprouts plant near beets, buckwheat, calendula, carrots, chamomile, dill, hyssop, sage, rosemary, thyme, and a few others, keep away from strawberries. Marigolds repel cabbage moth and Nasturtiums repel aphids.
Here are a few more resources on companion planting, I will definitely be rearranging where I have a few plants over the next few days and be investing in some marigolds with my next pay.
Mother earth news has a great list of companion plants and their uses.
Yates has some good information about companion planting and the benefits and different types of companion planting.
Wikipedia has a huge list of companion plants for everything you can imagine, it’s never consider the best reliable resource but this list seems pretty fantastic.
Happy gardening and welcome to Autumn, my favorite time of year. When it isn’t too hot and isn’t too cold. You get lovely sunny days but can still enjoy yummy hot comfort food and snuggling up at night. Not to mention my birthday is in Autumn and we get the beautiful golden leaves on trees.