Companion planting is a traditional way of gardening, using plants to work together to improve the health of others when grown nearby.
There are several ways this can work, and it can even lead to better tasting crops.
Make a sacrifice
Sacrificial crops are exactly what they sound like. Provide plants for pests to eat so they don’t want to dine on your crops.
For example, cabbage white caterpillars like munching on cabbages and other brassicas as well as turnips and swedes. If you plant Tropaeolum majus (nasturtiums) nearby as a sacrificial crop, they will choose the bright flowers over the cabbages, keeping your harvest safe.
Plant these flowers near Brussels sprouts too, because caterpillars and cabbage root fly quite like sprouts. Another way to keep your sprouts safe and secure is to plant Calendula officinalis (pot marigold) to attract slugs. Once the slugs make their way to the marigolds, you’ll be able to see their trails so you can physically remove them.
Another top tip is to plant bright flowers around crops to attract beneficial insects that will prey on any aphids.
Repel pests by planting strong-smelling plants that will mask the smell of their favourite crops.
Marigolds will deter whitefly from cucumbers and hopefully repel aphids from runner beans, whilst attracting lacewings and ladybirds that will prey on aphids.
Allium tuberosum (garlic chive) has a strong fragrance which will confuse the carrot root fly when planted near carrots. Planting garlic chives means you also have an easily accessible stock of chives to use in the kitchen for an extra boost of flavour.
Invite wildlife in
Encourage beneficial bugs into your garden to feast on pests. For example, lavender is a win-win as it has beautiful flowers that pollinators will also enjoy, and a fragrance that’s delightful to us but is a deterrent for aphids. Plant lavender next to leeks and carrots to confuse the aphids.
Put it to practice
Here are a few common crops to use as companions in the garden:
Make the most of your harvest using this guide to companion planting and your veg will be growing its best.
* David Domoney is a Thrive Ambassador and Chartered Horticulturalist. He also stars in ITV's Love Your Garden.