Those of you who regularly read my column or this blog know I’m a big proponent of companion planting. In companion planting, you group plants that are beneficial to each other in some way together in one planting bed. The example most people are familiar with is the traditional Native American “three Sisters” planting of corn, beans and pumpkins or squash. The prickly squash vines covering the ground protect the corn from animals, while the corn acts as a stake for the beans to climb. All the plants benefit each other.
While companion planting can be used to mutually benefit plants in growing, companion planting is also one of the easiest and most effective ways for pest control. Just like pests like to feed on particular plants or groups of plants, those same pests often have plants they dislike intensely, or, the smell of particular plants may simply confuse them. In companion planting, you interplant these plants to keep the pests away.
If you’re interested in learning more about companion planting and live near the Roanoke area, the Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Master Gardener program is sponsoring a free talk tomorrow night at the Hollins Branch Library. They will be discussing what plant combinations work well in both edible and ornamental gardens.
Some of my own favorite groupings are:
- Tomatoes, basil and marigold
- Potatoes and bush beans
- Pumpkins with onions and nasturtium
The free talk will be held from 6:30-7:30 p.m. tomorrow night, April 2, at Hollins Branch Library, 6624 Peters Creek Rd. Contact (540) 561-8024 for more information.