Vegetables – Dealing with Pests Part 1

May 05, 2009

Vegetables - Dealing with Pests Part 1

One of the interesting things about growing food crops more or less organically, is, how comparatively simple it all becomes once you’ve got your garden in balance.
For many years we were bullied into believing that only by dosing, spraying and watering with a variety of poisons could we grow the superb, over-sized and shiny crops we all wanted. Some time ago I had one of those ‘light bulb’ moments when talking to a friend of mine who had a job in a garden shop. We looked at the shelves full of poisons, and suddenly both came to the conclusion that it couldn’t be the right way to garden.
Firstly –think of planting some flowers in amongst your vegetables – their colors and perfumes attract many beneficial insects, as well as giving you pleasure while you are cultivating your rows of food crops.
The insects attract birds, which eat slugs and snails and so on. When we moved to our present home, we had a terrible snail and slug problem. The garden is small and sheltered and the slimy ones had a field day. I bought a bird feeder – not only did it feed the birds, but happily reduced the slug population.
The subject of companion planting is one which people used to think was just pure moonshine.
However, it has become clear that some plants do make other plants more pest (and disease) resistant. Some of the well known ones are:
Nasturtiums- will repel the beetles that like cucumbers and some beans.
English Marigolds and the small flowered ones called Tagetes - when grown with outdoor tomatoes, repel the insects that like eating them.
Garlic or onions grown into alternating rows with carrots are said to repel carrot fly - and the smell of the carrot fronds, in their turn, repel the onion fly!

There are books likeRoses Love Garlic: Secrets of Companion Planting with Flowers by Louise Riotte (available on Amazon) and websites like on beneficial companion planting, which are well worth reading even if you do take some of the claims with a pinch of salt!
I am a great one for planting garlic with many vegetable and flowering plants; I really think it benefits them, and I’ve yet to be disproved!
As always
Happy horticulture,