Compliments of the garden

Companion planting is the practice of combining two or more types of plants to create symbiotic or win-win relationships in your garden. Some companion plants ward off pests, while others attract beneficial and predatory insects to your garden. Other plants grow simply grow well together because they don’t compete with one another for light or root space.

There are hundreds of different tested and untested companion planting arrangements, but to get you started, why not experiment with some tried and tested combinations?

Keep a notebook of how your companions are faring and try combinations several times to really get a good idea of what works and what doesn’t.

This spring, try some of these great companion plants:

Gardening lore holds that beets thrive in the company of cabbage and its relatives as well as onions. Try intercropping beets, onions and kohlrabi and even throw in some mint (Mentha spp.) to ward off flea beetles.

Beets thrive in a sunny spot with loose, fertile and well drained soil. Sow seeds 2.5 cm deep and 5cm apart in early August (or a month before the last frost in frost areas). Thin seedlings to 5cm apart and enjoy young seedlings and tender leaves in salads or steamed.

Dill can be very useful in a companion garden. Not only are the flowers a popular place for predatory insects and smaller beneficial insects to visit, it’s also alleged to repel aphids and spider mites, probably due to its aroma. It can also act as a ‘trap crop’ (a plant that attracts pests to allow for easy removal) for green tomato hornworms. You can sow dill alongside lettuce, onions, cucumbers and the cabbage family.

Dill sprouts in cool rather than warm weather, so sow early. Sow seeds 6mm deep and 10cm apart in average well drained soils in spring. Thin seedlings to stand 20 to 30 cm apart.

Marigolds are well reputed in companion planting circles for their reputed insect repelling properties. Companion gardeners suggest planting them alongside cabbages, tomatoes, potatoes and roses as a means of controlling aphids, cabbage loopers, nematodes and cabbage worms.

Plant marigolds in separate beds to your vegetables as they may have alleopathic qualities. Grow marigolds as a cover crop in a dormant bed and turn them into the soil at the end of the season to prevent against nematodes.

Sow seeds in lean to average soil with full sun spaced 30 to 60 cm apart. Pinch off spent flowers to promote bush growth and more flowers.