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Say hello to my little friends! (Companion Planting)

Nature is exactly that. I'm sure if plants could speak they would tell us "it's real out here!". Daily struggles against pests and rodents, complaints of it being too hot or it raining for the third time this week, all the while hoping and praying your favorite bee notices you and comes over to say hi! I'm sure some days they could really use a drink not named water, an advil or maybe even a hug! A plant's life can be a rough one.

Often times a little help is all it takes to make it through. Your plants are battling multiple enemies at once from many angles which requires many levels of defense. Neem oil is great but it's highly unlikely your application process calls for daily sprays and if you're in a tropical climate with heavy rain grow seasons, it's effectiveness is lowered substantially. This leaves your plants unprotected for unknown periods of time. Aphids, beetles and other quick moving leaf destroyers only need a small window to thrive.

Pests seem to wait for the right moment to attack. When success seems high, and alertness seems low the strike always happens. With much painful experience it seems the best line of defense is an early and active one. Using nature's own product to cover it's back is one of the earliest methods of pest coverage. Also known as companion planting, the use of surrounding one with beneficial others, is great for adding protection around your garden.

Sure it requires some effort and research however the benefits are worth the time. Starting out by determining your primary plant is the first step in designing your protection plan. Your primary plant is the actual plant you are hoping to protect with the addition of some companions. For example here we will use a tomato plant. Notoriously known for infestation by many insects and bugs, layered protection is recommended if hoping for a quality harvest from an otherwise extremely finicky species.

Starting out let's be clear the objective in this scenario is protect our tomato plant. There are many type of plants that will assist in doing this, all which preform different duties around the plant. For example keeping pest away may start with introducing some spicy pepper plants to the mix. While tomatoes are sweet and juicy peppers are mean and spicy most animals aren't a fan and may be deterred by their presence. Surrounding your tomato plant will assist with raccoons and those alike. If your garden isn't bothered by theft and only disturbed by insect attack, these next items are for you.

Ground cover is an essential part of any garden. It gives a great look helps the soil and provides insect protection. Mint can be spot planted throughout your garden, between crops and inside of raised beds. It's presence will keep many bugs away along with its many other uses and also provide your garden with the beautiful aroma of mint when the wind blows. Basil is another aromatic and beneficial garden herb that can be planted for protection. These herbs act as scent barriers that taste awful to most insects often turning them around before reaching your actual crops.

Keeping a busy ecosystem is also a way to improve pests control. Keeping happy insects around to eat the bad ones is always option a. Here's where marigolds come alive! These beautiful flowers not only attract pollinators but special insect hungry friends like lady bugs, lacewings, and parasitic wasps which prey on aphids and beetles that can damage your crops. Marigolds are also key fighters against nematodes in your soil. With all of these good bugs flying around things could get pretty tight for the bad guys!

Lastly a personal favorite protection source and almost daily use item in my household, basil! Basil is a highly aromatic herb whose scent attracts key pollinators such as bees and birds to your garden. Placing basil around the tomato plant will not only add protection but also aid in ensuring flowers are pollinated creating a larger harvest.

Would you look at that, we've exhausted our poor little pesky friends before they could ever reach our prize tomato plant. We've also done this in the most organic way possible by simply wearing down our opponent with obstacles and predators until they simply have given up or concluded its not worth the risks. Plus the marigolds make our garden look amazing, bees, birds and butterflies of all kinds. The aroma of fresh mint and basil on hand to be harvested as needed and of course a bountiful salad ready tomato plant!

Protection is only one reason for companion planting in upcoming series we'll take a look at other benefits like nutrients and weather proofing . Until then keep going and growing.


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