Rural Missouri - April 2013 - (Page 10)

Companion Planting Certain plants can improve the health of neighbors through a network of defensive chemicals that help ward off plant pests and disease. Marigolds are a classic example. In the roots of both the French and African varieties, you’ll find thiopene — a substance that is toxic to certain types of soil-dwelling nematodes. As Some vegetables, herbs and flowers protect and feed each other when grown side by side photos by Rick Wetherbee Above: Companion planting can benefit your garden by providing nutrients, protecting against disease, repelling pests and attracting beneficial insects and bug-eating birds. Right: A diversified garden uses a variety of plant scents, colors and textures as natural pest barriers. Opposite page: Marigolds, seen here with parsley, contain thiopene in their roots — a substance that is toxic to some soil-dwelling nematodes. H by Kris Wetherbee info@ruralmissouri.coop ave you ever noticed in your garden how one vegetable plant can fail in one location yet thrive in another? Given the same soil, water and light, the two plants don’t seem to grow the same. The difference may be a plant that’s growing next door. This plant compatibility is the foundation of a gardening technique known as “companion planting,” a synergistic plant partnership that encourages plants to thrive and grow. This type of garden diversity is a complex codependency that increases the likelihood of combining plants that enhance each other’s performance. Companion planting can benefit your garden through five ways: providing nutrients, protecting against disease, repelling pest insects, attracting beneficial insects and attracting bug-eating birds. Nourish your garden Certain plant allies improve the flavor of neighboring vegetables by providing nutrients. For example, comfrey, buckwheat and other plants with roots that grow deep can mine nutrients and bring them up to the surface, making them more available to other plants. Various cover crops — 10 alfalfa, clover and vetch — also nourish neighboring plants with essential nutrients and trace minerals including nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron. Other plants — such as peas, beans, lupines and clover — have the ability to transport nitrogen from the air down into their roots where bacteria can convert it into a plant-friendly form for neighboring plants. In this case, corn, peas and other nitrogenhungry plants make great companions as they will benefit from the “nitrogen-fixing ability” of these legumetype plants. Protect your garden Certain plants can improve the health of neighbors through a network of defensive chemicals that help ward off plant pests and disease. Marigolds are a classic example. In the roots of both the French and African varieties, you’ll find thiopene — a substance that is toxic to certain types of soil-dwelling nematodes. As such, marigolds make great companions for tomatoes, beans and other plants that are susceptible to nematode damage. Plants that use similar defensive chemicals to protect against diseasecausing pathogens include garlic, onions and chives — commonly known compatibles that prevent black spot on roses and scab on apples. Likewise, brassica roots release chemicals that suppress some soilborne diseases. Equally important are silica-rich plants such as comfrey and borage, which may help neutralize rust, fungal attacks and other waterborne diseases. And dandelions in a tomato patch are a good thing as their presence may deter fusarium wilt, a soil-borne fungal disease that reduces plant health and overall yields. Other ways companion plants protect is by keeping it cool. Summertime heat can take a toll on radishes, spinach, lettuce and turnips. Larger plants such as pole beans and tomatoes provide needed shade, conserving moisture and reducing heat that would cause these vegetables to become woody or bolt. Repel garden pests Most pests locate their next meal by searching out their host plant’s chemical odors or color. A diversified garden boasts a complexity of plant odors, colors and textures, thereby composing a natural barrier that makes it harder for these pests to locate their target meal. How easy would it be for the cabbage moth to hone in on an area growing just broccoli and cabbage? By surrounding and interplanting the same area with carrots and onions, you confuse the moth by masking the WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP scent of the broccoli and cabbage. Strongly scented plants also benefit their neighbors by masking their odors, especially against pests that rely on scent to locate good eats. Rosemary, sage, lavender, oregano and other strong-smelling plants often foil aphid attacks on susceptible neighbors. Another example is planting your garden’s perimeter with garlic and marigolds to repel aphids and beetles. Other plants contain phytotoxins that lure, then sicken or kill pests. Mustard oils found in cabbage and similar plants often poison unsuspecting spider mites, mosquitoes and Mexican bean beetles. Therefore, cabbage, broccoli and kale make good companion plants for beans. Sometimes, a gardener can repel bugs simply by creating a physical barrier between the critter and the plant it wants to eat. If raccoons are raiding your sweet corn, surround it with a scratchy barrier of squash vines. Interplant tomatoes with your cabbage and cauliflower. The tomato’s sticky, hairy leaves deter flea beetles that love to devour the other vegetables. Catnip is another repellent plant when it comes to flea beetles, Colorado potato beetles and green peach aphids. But you don’t necessarily have to plant catnip in your garden to benefit from its protection. Catnip easily self-seeds; however, if you grow it outside the garden, it can then be cut and used as a protecting mulch. http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - April 2013

Rural Missouri - April 2013
Table of Contents
Comments
Columns
Companion planting
News Briefs
Operation cooperation
Outdoors
It’s all about redemption
Best of rural Missouri
Hearth and Home
Marmaduke’s Cape expedition
Around Missouri
Marketplace
The soldier’s paper
Neighbors
Just4Kids

Rural Missouri - April 2013

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