Marigold plants

Companion Planting in Australia

Why use Companion Planting in Australia?

I was reading a blog the other day that said that companion planting was a gardening concept that worked a treat in the northern hemisphere, but not so well down here in Australia.

This made me wonder what was meant by this statement. Do we grow smarter bugs down here? Or maybe we think that companion planting is a panacea for all our gardening problems, helping to deal with any and all pests or diseases that can beset our garden.

Sadly companion planting can’t stop pests and diseases from entering our gardens and wreaking havoc. Nor is it a cure-all for everything that can go wrong in your garden. But it can help!

Companion Planting in Australia

Calendula are great companion plants

For those of you who don’t know, companion planting is the practice of growing plants together for the mutual benefit of both plants. Companion planting is not an exact science.

I divide the combinations of companion planting into ten main types or benefits. These include:

  1. attracting beneficial insects to your garden by providing them with food and nectar;
  2. keeping away the bad bugs and diseases, either by emitting a strong smell that swamps the smell of tempting fresh vegetables or by fumigating the soil to disrupt pests like nematodes;
  3. visually confusing pests by disguising the shape of desirable vegetables. Many bugs actually search for their preferred crops based on what they look like;
  4. acting as a sacrificial plant that gets eaten instead of your prized plants;
  5. increasing plant growth by improving access to nutrients;
  6. reducing water requirements and water consumption;
  7. helping control weeds by providing a green mulch that smothers out weeds;
  8. enhancing the flavours of each crop;
  9. stunting the growth of other plants;
  10. providing shade and staking.

I use companion planting a lot in my garden.

Ever since I realised that the concept of growing veggies in rows was so against the natural order, not to mention that it provided the veritable smorgasbord for the bugs! Once you realise that bugs can search out your tender vegetables by both sight and smell you start to get a greater appreciation for mixing things up a bit!

Companion Planting in Australia

Basil is great planted alongside tomatoes

I love growing sweet basil alongside my tomatoes to increase the crop and use Landcress as a great sacrificial plant to protect my green leafy crops against cabbage white butterfly.

Another legendary combination is planting garlic underneath you roses to deter aphids. My dad was a big fan of this combination and his roses never suffered from aphid attack. We always had a good supply of home-grown garlic as dad really loved his roses ?

There are also some legendary combinations to avoid as they can either stunt each other’s grow or actually attract more pests to your crop. Corn and tomatoes are one of these combinations.

One of the underlying concepts of companion planting is to work with nature and to plant as nature would have done so. So now I have veggies growing all through the garden and flowers growing in my veggie patch alongside the veggies.

If you use companion planting in your garden let us know some of your favourite combinations and their impacts.

Happy gardening

Rohanne, Your Personal Garden Expert

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