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Thu, 07/26/2012 - 15:01 — Calloway's Intern
Fall Companion Planting
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Texas is privileged to have two different vegetable seasons. The first is in the spring, when vegetables are planted early in order to take advantage of the cool weather. The second season is right now. I know the dog days of a Texas summer hardly seem like the time to establish a vegetable garden; but it is. If your vegetables can establish roots now then by the time the cool season hits they will be ready to produce.
But how can we get the most out of our gardens this fall? One way is to pair plants that share a mutually beneficial relationship. This idea is known as companion planting. It is based on the idea that specific plants can benefit others when planted near one another. Benefits can include pest control, attraction of beneficial insects and increased production.
Native Americans have used this technique for many generations. They found that planting corn, beans, and squash together made for a better harvest. The corn grew upright and provided a stalk for beans to grow. Nitrogen was added to the soil (through nitrogen fixation) from the beans, which fertilized the corn. Then the squash suppressed weeds and retained moisture by growing along the ground.
It is the time to get tomato seedlings in the ground. Pairing tomatoes with basil can help repel flies, aphids, mosquitos and mites. It also deters tomato hornworms, which can be detrimental to a tomato crop. Planting any variety of mint with tomatoes can also be beneficial. Mint deters aphids, ants, fleas and flea beetles, while attracting beneficial insects like bees and earthworms. And, since mint is a continuous producer, the tops can be cut off and placed around the perimeter of beds to repel critters. It also improves the flavor and growth of tomatoes.
Start cabbage from seed. Planting Geranium with cabbage can repel cabbage worms and Japanese beetles. Hyssop will improve the growth of the cabbage and deter cabbage moths. Also cabbage can be paired with several different herbs. Thyme and cabbage can be paired to control flea beetles, cabbage maggots, imported cabbageworms and white cabbage butterflies. Dill can improve growth and attracts honeybees. And, just like tomatoes, mint will improve the flavor and growth of cabbage. However cabbage and tomatoes should not be planted together, because they can stunt each other’s growth.
Companion plantings create synergy between plants. It is an effective way to boost the production of your garden. There are many different companion planting combinations, I recommend that you do some research and choose a paring that is right for you. And for all of your seed needs visit Calloway’s for a full line of Botanical Interest seeds.
I am an agriculture business management major, with an emphasis on horticulture at Texas State University. My favorite areas of study are organic farming, landscape design and sustainable agriculture. I plan to pursue a career in nursery/greenhouse management or landscape design.