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Perfect Companions

Tim Brooks

18 May 2022

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This time of year, many keen gardeners all over Britain cast their minds over to the south east of England and to a certain part of London...Chelsea!

Yes it’s time for the RHS Chelsea flower show from May 24th-28th, a utopia of plants of all shades of colours and sizes, brought together in showpiece gardens and marquee tents, attended always by celebrities and royals, with many exhibitors hoping for the elusive gold medal for best garden in show. It is one of the big highlights of the gardening year.

This year the showgardens include a “rewilding of britains landscape”, which features a stream, set to resemble a natural one inhabited by beavers, complete with woodsticks, tree debris ,shrubs of hawthorns, hazel and maple, just as was the successful area in the south west, where beavers were introduced back into the wild. So it is inspired by that.

Showgardens include a “textile garden”, “the mind garden”, “swiss garden”, a “horticultural science garden” in the great pavilion and much more to entice the thousands visiting the event...not forgetting the hospitallity tents!

Whilst buying plants at these show events, consider what may be useful to grow alongside your vegetables in your own veg patch at home or allotment plot. It’s easy to overlook “companion planting”, these are flowers or herbs that are beneficial to all vegetables.

For instance...
• Tomatoes and peppers, growing basil next to them repels flies and mosquitos and white fly, at the same time helping to increase yields.
• Marigolds too, planted between tomatos give the same effect as Basil in deterring pests. Marigolds of course attract ladybirds, that eat the aphids, so grow plenty of those on your vegetable patch.
• Carrots should be grown next to onions, as they help keep away carrot fly. Onions also scare away aphids, so plant those near aphid prone veggies.
• Planting mint among lettuce can help deter slugs or set chives or garlic to repel aphids too.
• Strawberries benefit by having plants like borage, spinach, beans and marigolds near them. Beans of course release nitrogen into the soil which helps plants grow well.
• Fruit bushes are happiest when they have sweet peas, beans,, garden peas around them. Nitrogen in the soil helps the bushes grow healthily.
• Grow flowering herbs near pumpkins, squashes and courgettes, as you need pollinators to attract bees. Unless they get pollination, you will not get a good crop of fruits off them. We need bees in gardens, so lots of flowers are essential.
• Grow calendulas next to brassicas, they help to keep away aphids and attract the much needed ladybirds and hoverflies too.
• Swiss chard benefits having the white flowering bedding plant alyssum near it, the hoverflies control the aphid population.

Companion planting stops the need to use pesticides, which kill the bees and ladybirds, that we really do need on our gardens. Nature can help in a big way, without resorting to chemicals, which are so harmful to the environment.

Happy gardening!

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