We all love having good companions - trees & plants are no exception! Good companions should enhance each other's growth or provide protection in some way. Companion planting creates a greater biodiversity which encourages beneficial insects into the garden, thereby reducing harmful ones.
Companion plants have many roles - they can attract pollinators resulting in higher fruit yields, repel pests to reduce disease, provide food for the plants, amend soil deficiencies, create a living mulch to reduce moisture loss and weed prevention.
When planting companion plants around trees ensure there is a minimum of 500mm space from the trunk and only use shallow rooted species to avoid disturbance of the trees root system. Where possible plant under the trees drip zone.
- MARIGOLDS are an excellent companion crop for almost any plant that can be prone to insect attack as they emit a fragrance that deters many harmful insects. Marigolds are great self seeders so deadhead if you don't want to produce many more. Once they are past their prime, chop up the green foliage & dig into the ground where you are planning on planting tomatoes or potatoes as nematodes don't like the marigold foliage.
- BORAGE has edible flowers and is a great ally for the base of fruit trees
- FLOWERING ANNUALS & PERRENIALS will attract various bee and beneficial insects to assist in the pollination of fruit bearing trees and smaller crops. Think salvia, alyssum, lavender, pansies, phlox, dianthus and calendula.
- NASTURTIUMS play a unique role by attracting aphids - and whilst it doesn't kill the pest, it does keep them off other plants in your garden.
- YARROW, FENNEL, DILL all attract ladybirds & lacewings which feed on aphids.
- COMFREY is a great addition to add rich nutrients into the soil - a leaf or two in the compost bin helps break down the
- LEGUMES (peas, beans, alfalfa, sprouts) leach nitrogen back into the ground. Allow your legumes to grow well then cut back to ground level. You can bury the cuttings under your mulch or scratch them into the surface soil in your veggie patch or under your fruit trees.
Of course adding flowers to your garden also beautifies the space and attracts birds and butterflies too!