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This spring when I’m placing and planting ornamentals in the garden, I will be strategic about the flowers I place around my veggie gardens. I had such a problem with Colorado potato beetles last year (they attacked both my tomatillos and my potatoes), I’ve been doing a lot of research on natural pest control. One thing I haven’t really paid much attention to in the past is the idea of planting flowers that will attract beneficial insects that can help control the bad insect populations and others that repel them completely. Certain flowers can also be ground up and stewed in water to create a pest-repelling “tea” that can be used to spray infested areas.
While touring the Jardin le Tournesol, Québec City’s largest and oldest community garden, last summer, I was inspired by many of the gardens that edged their “property lines” with flowers. The image at the top of this post, with the marigold border, is from one of those plots. Marigolds are known to deter whitefly and they keep nasty nematodes away from anything in the brassica family, like broccoli and cabbage. Certain varieties also keep away root-knot nematodes, which can damage melons.
All that garlic I planted will come in handy to fend off Japanese beetles and aphids. Furthermore, dill and borage around my tomatoes should repel the hornworms, while orange nasturtiums will protect my squash and cucumbers. Apparently the yellow ones trap aphids!
I haven’t planted sweet alyssum in awhile, but I will add some to my veggie garden border to attract flower flies that like to munch on aphids.
To attract other beneficial insects, I will be sure to include some of the following plants on my spring planting list:
- Bachelor’s buttons
- Anise hyssop
- Lemon balm
As for the Colorado potato beetles, aka the bane of my existence (right up there with bindweed), apparently buckwheat will attract predatory wasps, flies and beneficial insects that will hopefully make short work of any greedy potato beetles. I think buckwheat will be my first priority.
Of course I will also keep Jessica’s new book handy to provide me with further planting inspiration!