Safe And Effective

By Bonnie Grant | May 9, 2022
Image by koromelena
by Bonnie Grant
May 9, 2022

This place is riddled with bugs. Both good and bad, but I swear the bad buggies are more numerous. I really try not to use synthetic chemicals in my garden, preferring to make up my own non-toxic concoctions. This is due primarily to the fact that I eat out of my land, but also to help Mother Nature maintain a healthy balance. So companion planting is a must that combines beautifully with my safe insect potions. 

Companion Planting As Pest Control

I am not a tree hugger, but I do want to keep our environment clean. I avoid using purchased insecticides because after one glance at the ingredients, I become concerned. I really don’t want that stuff in my body, so I resort to a combination of ways to keep my gardens pest free. One of the more important methods is companion planting. It not only helps repel pests in the garden, but I use some of the plants as an insect deterrent on my body and others in the kitchen. 

One of my companion plants volunteers annually. It is Calendula, which reseeds itself and pops up here and there in my vegetable garden. Many think it is a relative of Marigolds, but while they are both in the sunflower family, they are in very different genus. The bright, sunny yellow flowers are cheery and the scent seems to put of bugs. I really don’t have to do anything to them for them to flourish, so it’s a win-win. 

Another plant that I use extensively is Nasturtium. I have some started right now that will soon go outside to become decoy plants. I will put some seed directly into soil as well, because there will be casualties. The cabbage moths seem to like them and will keep away from my cole crops. My chamomile doesn’t repel pests but does attract predatory wasps which will make quick work of caterpillars. 

I am heavily invested in companion planting with Allium. Not only do they repel many insects but I get to use my onions, shallots, and garlic in the kitchen. A classic example of companion planting really does work. Tomatoes and basil. For some reason it helps keep tomato hornworm away. Celery is great to have for recipes but it also deters the cabbage moths. 

Edible Companion Plants

There are many companion plants useful in the garden as pest control that also come into the kitchen. Horseradish keeps away Colorado potato bugs. Many of my bug repellents come in the form of companion herbs. Heavily scented plants like mint, lavender, and dill keep away a host of pests. Borage, coriander, comfrey, lemon balm, oregano, and marjoram not only repel the bad bugs, but their flowers attract beneficial insects like bees. I crush many of these herbs when I am working in the garden and rub them on my exposed skin. Helps with pesky flies and other annoying insects. I use these herbs in cooking, dry them for tea, and make tinctures and sachets for other uses. I even sprinkle some of them in a bath to soothe away aches and relax. 

I didn’t even know what I was doing was companion planting until a few decades ago. My family has been doing things this way forever and I just aped what I saw my grandparents doing. It may seem like wives tales but all these plants really work in my opinion. And since they are all double duty in beauty and/or kitchen use, they are real work horses in my garden. 

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