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Companion planting a great first-line of defense for your vegetables

Carson Arthur –

My vegetable garden is officially planted. I have all of my seeds in rows; my tomatoes in cages and my potatoes are hilled…and so it begins…another season of growing vegetables, but also of keeping the bugs at bay.

2016 had limited successes because I tested several untried techniques, including some old wives tales which didn’t work. This year I have refined my skill at companion planting and am determined to do better at protecting my crops by using natural methods of stopping the bug invasion.

Here are the strategies I am going to use in case you need a little help as well.

Onions everywhere! I grew extra sets of onions from seeds starting in April so that I could plant them throughout the garden to help deter insects. Onions and garlic are great companions plants because their natural scents keep insects away. Anything in the onion family (including leeks) is a good deterrent for potato beetles and carrot rust flies.

Just make sure to keep them away from your beans and peas, these plants do not get along well in the same garden bed. If you didn’t start seeds early, invest in lots of garlic that is starting to sprout at the local grocer. It will grow just fine in your garden and the shoots are tasty too!

Marigolds are more than just a bright pop of colour at the edge of the perennial bed. Marigolds absolutely smell terrible to insects, which is why they are perfect in the garden. I have planted marigolds around all of the plants that were destroyed by insects last year including my squash and zucchini. Marigolds are a sun-loving annual that you can either purchase already grown, or plant seeds directly in the ground around any of your garden veggies. Marigolds require very little effort to flourish and don’t even need to have the spent blooms removed before they are already setting new flowers.

Nasturtiums are something new for me this year. I’ve done my research on this edible flower and learned that they are great at preventing aphids, squash bugs, striped pumpkin beetles and even whiteflies. Nasturtiums love to be neglected (PERFECT!) and will happily flower away in full sun. They do like a little shade from the afternoon heat, which is why I am planting them all around my large-leafed squash and pumpkin plants. Nasturtiums are also fantastic in a salad. The leaves and flowers are edible and have a great peppery flavour. Try chopping some up to add to any tomato or green salad.

Companion planting is a great first-line of defense for your vegetables. They help deter and distract insects from ever finding a meal in your garden. Try adding a few this year and let me know if you have any success. I am always on the hunt for options that keep my food chemical free.

Prince Edward County resident Carson Arthur is an international landscape designer with a focus on environmentally friendly design. He is part of the Cityline team with many other credits including host of HGTV’s Green Force and Critical Listing and the Room to Grow show. He is author of ‘Garden Designs for Outdoor Living’ and has a new book scheduled to hit the shelves this season! More tips at
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