Newsletter

May 2020 Print

Welcome

Welcome to the Scoop, the official newsletter of the Garden Club of South Carolina, Inc. 

We suggest you read this online by clicking here

 

 

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Calendar of Events

South Carolina Goes Virtual & viral

Despite our order to shelter in place, the Garden Club of South Carolina is employing technology to help our clubs join together in the digital arena. Using Social Media, Conference Calls, Zoom Meetings and our new Youtube Channel, we continue to strive to be the hub of the garden club wheel bringing our members together for fun, educational seminars, meetings and creative projects.  

In April we hosted our first STATE-WIDE Zoom Meeting with Horticulture Director Andy Cabe of Riverbanks Botanical Gardens to introduce Planting with a Purpose, the Top Ten Plants to Attract Pollinators in Your Public Planting Projects.  

If you were unable to join us, you can view the seminar on our YouTube Channel: Garden Club of SC Classroom. 

Meadows for Deep South Join us next Wednesday, May 13, 2020 for Meadow Garden Design with Jenks Farmer, Plantsman. Former Director of Riverbanks Botanical Gardens and founding Horticulturist for Moore Farms BG, Jenks has been designing and installing gardens for over 20 years. His designs for homes, museums, and businesses have received national recognition and awards and have delighted hundreds of thousands of visitors with the joyful, easy exuberance of hand-crafted gardens. Every garden tells a story. When you know which story you want to tell, you have the beginning of a living work of art. 

Topic: Meadow Gardening with Jenks Farmer
Time: May 13, 2020 02:00 PM (EST)

Meeting ID: 845 8028 7028

Password: 318251

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84580287028pwd=U0c5OTdYa2t1MXZ4eVNGUHRJYzMzUT09

Or Call in on:  +1 929 205 6099 US 
Meeting ID: 845 8028 7028
Password: 318251

We also invited members to send us an Earth Day photo hugging or planting a tree. The video created from those photos has now gone viral and has been viewed over 3000 times! Thank you to all who participated. 

We will continue hosting Conference Calls and Zoom Meetings for any club or council that needs to meet during the quarantine. Simply contact [email protected] to request that we host a meeting.

While we'd love to invite you to the SUMMER EXPO, there is still no news on that front. Stay tuned...

In the meantime, please note that GCSC and SAR Award Winners are now posted on the website. Congratulations to all of the winners!  

 

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President's Message

Do April showers really bring May flowers? In South Carolina, the answer depends on the zone in which you reside. 

Considering that it rains a great deal more in May than it does in April, it would seem the rhyme has it backwards. Also consider that in the lower parts of our state, major blooming of spring ephemerals are long gone as are the show-stopper azaleas, while upstate the party is just getting started.

Two things that remains consistent across our state this month are longer days and perfect outdoor temperatures. Average day length is 13.5 hours coupled with temperatures that range in that perfectly comfortable sweet spot between 60s and 80s. 

No wonder we end our club year this month as most of us are too distracted by the pull of our gardens and the temptation of evenings outside. Enjoy it while you can. Summer is almost here.   

Happy Gardening! 

Trish 

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Garden FOR Life

COMPANION PLANTING 

by Trish Bender 

One of the best strategies in a GardenFORLife garden is companion planting. This concept actually pre-dates row crop plantings that create large voids of space in between specimens. For thousands of years gardeners have combined plants of different species and lifecycles in order to achieve a better outcome from the combination. There are several reasons to consider incorporating this strategy in your gardenFORlife garden.

WEED CONTROL - Contrary to popular believe, the best weed control is not mulch but more plants. Somehow we've been indoctrinated into thinking that mulch is the new status symbol of a well manicured lawn. So much so that most towns have specialty mulch outlets that deliver by the truckload. While mulch does have its place in a garden, most plants prefer to be surrounded by other plants. This not only surpresses weed growth but allows for cooler soil temperatures, better moisture retention and more opportunity for life at the soil level. 

NUTRIENTS - When certain plants are combined, a synergy occurs that allows both plants to thrive. This is because some plants pull nutrients out of thr soil better than others. Interplanting of clover with grass, for example, helps make your grass greener and more resistant to fungal diseases. Until the early 1990's most grass mixes included clover for this very reason. 

Although most wouldn't consider mushrooms a companion plant, mushroom compost employs a similar strategy. The fungal layer  underground helps roots tap into nutrients normally too large to be absorbed by their delicate root tips. 

Plants with deeper roots are also great companions to shallow-rooted plants as they reach deeper to pull the nutrients up towards the surface. They help hold the soils better without competing with their companion for the same food. Dandelions, chicory, winter squash, and tomatoes are great examples of long-rooted plants. 

DISEASE RESISTANCE - Many plants use chemicals to resist certain diseases as well as pest-carrying hosts. Marigolds are a perfect example since their roots emit a compound that repels the nematode that can destroy the roots of tomatoes and many other vegetables. 

In her books, Carrots Love Tomatoes and Roses Love Garlic, Louise Riotte explains this in great detail. There are hundreds of examples of this symbiosis. For vegetable gardens, an easy chart can be found here

PEST RESISTANCE -  Companion plants aid pest resistance in several different ways. First, the companion plant fools the pests into creating unsuccessful landings. In a recent trial, cabbage moth crop devastation was significantly reduced when cabbage was surrounded by clover in comparison to cabbage planted alone in bare soil rows. Researchers observed that the cabbage moth attempted to land on the cabbage but instead landed on a clover leaf in error. After several attempts, the cabbage moth gives up and continue its seach elsewhere. While not 100% foolproof, the interplanting showed significant enough results to be offered as a standard procedure. 

Companion plants also help attract beneficial insects that prey on the pests of other plants. Wasps drawn toward dill flowers will also help keep your broccoli free of cabbage worms. Read all about beneficial insects in our June 2020 Issue. 

Companions can also draw pests away from certain plants. Nasturtiums are great at fooling the cabbage looper into laying her eggs on that in place of your precious brassicas.  

POLLINATION - Plants that require pollinators produce significantly better when surrounded by plants that attract pollinators or act as shelter habitat for their young. The denser the planting of grasses and host plants in one concentrated area, the higher the probabilty that bees and wasps will select that area to pollinate. 

PRODUCTION - In many systems of gardening, companion planting also enables higher yields in smaller spaces. Square-foot gardening, bio-intensive, polycultural gardening all employ these methods. 

Although there are hundreds of choices, here are some tried and true combinations for your summer garden. 

Roses

Garlic, Chives

Squash  Dill, Parsley
Brassicas (cabbage, kale, broccoli, etc.) Calendula
Tomatoes Basil, Carrots, Marigolds
Summer salad greens Chives, Savory, Chervil
Cucumbers Nasturtium
Beans Summer Savory
Melons Dill, Parsley 

 

Other generalists include oregano and stinging nettles, both of which are considered nature's mid-wives as both seem to promote healthier growth of anything nearby. But not all plants play well with others. Just as there are friendly combinations, there are also plants that emit chemicals that inhibit the growth of other plants nearby. Black walnut and elephant ears are two common examples as both produce growth inhibiting chemicals through their roots. Sage and fennel can also be considered unfriendly to most vegetables. 

Beneficial Insects 

by Linda Geronilla 

Good insects that eat plant-destroying bad insects include lady bugs, green lacewing, hoverfly, tachinid fly, and parasitic mini-wasps. In order to keep the good insects in your yard, they need three things:

1) specific flowers, 2) a water source, and 3) shelter all year long.

To provide the right pollen and nectar for good insects, plant a diversity of plants so there is something constantly in bloom for their food supply. The best blooms for these small natural helpers are usually smaller in size.

Plants that do well in South Carolina include aster, blanket flower, coneflowers, coreopsis, cosmos, goldenrod, swamp sunflower, marigold, calendula, yarrow, and milkweed.

If you prefer to incorporate edibles, try lettuce, chicory, arugula, mustard, broccoli, bok choy, fennel, dill, cilantro, and coriander. All of these can be left to flower and set seed after harvest to carry the good insects through the winter months. Be sure to leave places for the good insects to stay in winter in the plant and leaf litter, so wait until early spring to clean out the garden. Not only does a littered garden of leftover harvest debris benefit good insects, it also becomes an important component of healthy soil.  Some people find beneficial bugs so helpful that they create containers with their favorite beneficial flowers so they can move the container closer to any plant that is in trouble.  

If there is a continuous problem of a specific bad insect, plant several designated beneficial plants close to the problem.

First, identify the pest.

Second, identify several good bugs

Third, identify the best flowers on the list of Plants that Attract Beneficial Insects.

A helpful chart can be found here

A more complete reference of Beneficial Insects can be found in Habitat Planning for Beneficial Insects from Xerces Foundation. On pages 66-72, of this free 82-page manual there is a list of plants that will grow in a specific area including a picture. 

Another good source is the Habitat Development for Beneficial Insects for Pest Management 

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Month by Month Gardening

May Gardening to Do List 

East Piedmont

  • Dead head, remove spent leaves, and fertilize camellias and azaleas.
  • Time to tether or secure all new growth to stakes or espalier trellises.
  • Check irrigation systems now and do repairs before the hot weather arrives.
  • Weed now, while they’re small!!! 

 

West Piedmont 

  • Early flowering shrubs, like forsythias, camellias and azaleas should be pruned if needed.
  • If you haven’t yet, go ahead and mulch all perennial beds, trees and shrubs.
  • May can be a dry month in the Upstate, so keep track of precipitation and water accordingly.
  • Houseplants can be safely moved outdoors- place in the shade for a few days to let them acclimate or put them on a porch for the summer.
  • Most herbs can already be in the ground, but now you can plant basil with no worries of a late cold snap killing it. Interplant it with your tomatoes and peppers-the consensus is that basil can be an effective natural deterrent for white flies, mosquitoes, tomato hornworms, aphids, houseflies and asparagus beetles. The basil is also thought to improve the flavor of tomatoes if planted nearby.
  • Sit on a porch, patio or deck- listen to the birds and take a moment to enjoy all of your hard work

 

Sandhills:

Plant:

  • Sow outdoors: zinnias, coleus, cosmos, daisies; soak nasturtiums for 24 hours before planting
  • Plant marigolds (the chief pest repellent)
  • Plant tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers for summer salads
  • Replace fading spring plants with summer annuals
  • Plant for hummingbirds in your Wildlife Habitat: bee balm, scarlet salvia, petunia, coral bells, cypress vine (Hummers love it, but invasive), columbine
  • Plant for butterflies: milkweed, black-eyed Susan, purple cone flowers, coreopsis, verbena, lantana and impatiens
  • Iris- don’t plant too deep and never mulch
  • Divide perennials and root chrysanthemums
  • Plant scented shrubs such as gardenia, mock orange and daphne

 

Fertilize:                                                                                                                       

  • Annuals with frequent light applications of fertilizer
  • Iris with superphosphate
  • Roses after first bloom
  • Azaleas and camellias immediately after blooming and again in six weeks. Scatter the fertilizer, but do so not scratch in. Water well after fertilizing

 

Prune:

  • Climbing roses after they bloom for neatness
  • Cut out oldest flowering stems of quince, forsythia, spirea, flowering almond
  • Prune rhododendron to keep from getting top heavy since they can pull themselves out

            of the ground

Harvest:

  • Greens and herbs
  • Pick roses and cut flowers early in the morning
  • Place iris stems in boiling water so blooms will last longer

Routine Care:

  • Be sure to stretch all your muscles and joints before beginning to work in the garden
  • Model Lucile MacLennan (The Garden Club of Charleston) and say prayer of thanks for our world of beauty before you begin
  • Always return your tools to the proper storage place
  • Work in morning before sun gets hot and replace your sunscreen and bug repellant every three hours
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Check plants or pests and treat according to Clemson University fact sheets

 

Coastal: 

Plan:

  • Lay out your garden design on paper at night or on a rainy day. Gardens and be as simple as a sunny windowsill, balcony or deck at your apartment or a newly created flower bed or vegetable garden in your yard.

Plant:  

  • Shady area native plants include blue woodland phlox, columbine or heartleaf ginger. Native plants for sunny spaces are aster, beebalm, cardinal flower, coreopsis or black-eyed Susan. 
  • Color annuals from seeds are an economical way to add cheerful color to your garden.  Color contrasting native flowers like purple cone flower and golden rod provide seeds for wildlife. 

 

Prune:  

  • thin annuals planted from seed and pinch back dead heads or broken branches.  Always use clean, sharp clippers.

 

Feed: 

  • Amend sandy soil with organic compost or a slow release fertilizer. My favorite is organic material such as composted manure.

 

Water: 

  • Spring gully washers can leave gardeners with too much water too fast.  Collecting water in a rain barrel or bucket for later use can be helpful. Indoor plants or plants on a screen porch can benefit from the chemical free rainwater.

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Pollinator of the Month

Wicked Wonderful Wasps 

by Ben Powell 

They are fearsome.  They are packed with venom. The ultimate hunters, they have been shaped by millions of years of evolutionary fine-tuning. Their menacing bodies have inspired monsters in cinema, and the things they do make a Stephen King novel seem like a cuddly bedtime story. BUT… Wasps arguably are the single most beneficial group of insects you find in your garden.

The term “wasp” is used loosely to describe a wide array of flying predatory insects in the order Hymenoptera, which also includes the ants, bees, hornets and sawflies.  Strictly speaking, “wasp” refers to insects in the family Vespidae (Vespe = old French/Germanic for “weavers”), which includes familiar insects like yellow-jackets, paper wasps, and bald-faced hornets, all of which are social insects that construct woven nests made of wood pulp (paper) in which to raise their young. As is often the case with insect common names, “wasp” also has been broadly applied to distantly related families of Hymenoptera.  In fact, “wasp” has become a catch-all term used for any Hymenoptera that is not an ant, bee, or sawfly. This means that there are wasps that look and behave very differently from their paper-making cousins. Some researchers argue that there are more species of wasps than any other group of insects on Earth, but there is one thing they all share in common. Their young are carnivores that must feed on the flesh of other animals.

 

Most wasps target other invertebrates as food for their young, making them essential predators that control the pests that plague our gardens. Many of the social wasps (Vespidae) like yellow-jackets and red paper wasps patrol the garden to catch insects which they carry back to the nest and chew into a paste that they feed to their larvae. Then there are the thread-wasted wasps such as mud-daubers and digger wasps (Sphecidae) which perform the gruesome behavior of stinging their prey to paralyze it, then stashing it in a secret hiding place where the wasp larva slowly consumes it alive. Many of these predatory wasps are the apex predators in the insect world. Just imagine, an insect must be seriously savage to intentionally seek-out spiders as its prey, which is exactly what the Pompilidae (spider wasps) do.

The tremendous diversity among the wasps means that there is a species that attacks just about every other kind of insect that exists. There are even wasps that specialize on different life stages.  Take for instance the scelionid wasps, obscure, tiny wasps that parasitize the eggs of other insects.  These minute wasps are usually overlooked or thought to be small black flies, but they are some of the most important natural controls for stink bugs and other common garden pests. The scelionids are just one of several families of wasps that target insect eggs.  Other wasp families parasitize insect larvae. Most vegetable gardeners have had the disturbing pleasure of seeing a tomato horn-worm adorned with the white cocoons of Braconid wasps, parasitoids that fed on the inner tissues of the caterpillar, spelling its demise from within. Many Ichneumonidae are equipped with extremely long ovipositors (egg-laying tubes) which they use to insert eggs into beetle larvae that bored deep into tree trunks or underground. The life histories and unique adaptations of parasitoid wasps, make them some of the most highly specialized insects on earth.

While most wasps seem sinister both in appearance and in behavior, a large number of them also perform the more light-hearted task of pollination.  In so doing, most wasps perform double-duty in our gardens, and this is why they are the most beneficial insects.  While the larvae of wasps feed mostly on animal protein, adult wasps feed mostly on nectar and other sweet secretions to power their flight.  For this reason, you will often see wasps visiting flowers to refuel.  Though they are not as efficient as their vegan cousins, the bees, wasps are still critical pollinators, and some plants rely almost entirely on wasps for pollen transfer. For plants, there is nothing like having a pollinator that also is a back-up body guard ready to pounce on a nearby caterpillar or aphid.

When we think of wasps, the image that comes to mind is usually a large, brightly colored insect ready to dole-out stings at a moment’s notice, but reality is that most wasps are solitary and not defensive.  In fact, most wasps are tiny, overlooked, and under-appreciated. Even the social wasps are not defensive while they are foraging, and the threat they pose to us is miniscule compared to the benefits they provide to our plants.  So, share your yards with wasps. You might find their presence to be extremely helpful.

 

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Pollinator Habitat Gardening

May is the perfect month to begin collecting seeds from your winter and early spring annuals. Clovers, snapdragons, blanketflower, brassicas, parsley and many root vegetables should be in seed by now. 

For some beneficials, those seed heads are the perfect food so do leave some for the good guys. 

And yes, snapdragons do look like tiny voodoo skulls turned upside down.  

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Coastal District

Coastal Gardening

by Allyson Hirsch

Welcome to Spring 2020 with abundant sunshine, adequate rain and plenty of time to create the gardens of our dreams. Companion planting in the vegetable garden can help reduce predators from eating veggies. 

Aromatic plants like lavender, rosemary, chives, sage, and mint will discourage the bunnies and deer from devouring veggies. Nasturtiums will attract aphids and keeps them from away the garden.  Marigolds planted around a vegetable garden have proven effective in deterring deer and rabbits.

Other favorite summer flowers are perennial bulbs like crinium lilies which love the marshy, wet Coastal area.

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East Piedmont District

East Piedmont Gardening

by Gina Ginther

Whether you are focused on a bumper crop of vegetables or a pallet of prolific flowers,  there’s an abundance of reference charts available on line to mix and match companion plants that are compatible, but let’s discuss just a few matches to help you get started.

Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) tends to repel aphids, mosquitos and mites. It acts as a natural fungicide and slows the growth of milkweed bugs. Planted among tomato plants it will control tomato hornworms. Basil planted with tomatoes will also improve growth and flavor. Beans, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, asparagus, kale, and peppers will benefit from their basil neighbor, as well.

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) improve the growth and flavor of carrots and tomatoes. It can also be beneficial to roses. Chives will help prevent mildew, deters green flies and repels aphids.

Marigolds, are considered the workhorse of pest deterrent. The Mexican marigold (Targetes lucida) is preferred over others because it is more potent. When planted thickly in a vegetable garden, they help repel “bad” nematodes.

 

Mint (many varieties, all from the Lamiaceae family) will deter aphids, white cabbage  moths, flea beetles, fleas and ants. Bees as well as other beneficial insects and pollinators love mint!

 

Remember, the benefits of companion planting come from more than the aromatic element of each plant. Companion plants also provide an abundance of important and essential nutrient support such as nitrogen. Whether you have a garden plot, raised garden or choose to enjoy container gardening, all of these companion plants can be incorporated in your crop plan. Always plant them in close proximity or at the base of your vegetables or primary plant. Remember that even with the knowledge that some plants will benefit others, local conditions, such as soils, temperatures and water conditions may impact the effectiveness of companion plants. You may have to try different combination to find what works for you.

Happy Harvest!

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West Piedmont District

West Piedmont Gardening

by Laurie Churchill 

Companion planting is not just about mixing plants to deter pests – in fact, many combinations attract beneficial insects, as well as birds to eat any invading pests and encourage pollination. Large groupings of one type of vegetable serve as a beacon to pests. Mixing in flowers and herbs makes it more difficult for pests to find your vegetables. The scent of flowers and herbs, as well as the change up in color, is thought to confuse pests. Companion planting is also an efficient use of your garden space and is an easy way to maintain an organic garden without having to resort to nasty chemical solutions. However, be aware that some much-touted companion plants like chrysanthemums, will kill most insects, including bees and butterflies because they contain high concentrations of pyrethrum. Other popular companion plants like nasturtiums won’t stand up to a hot, humid South Carolina summer.

 

Listed below are two of the best companion flowers for a summer garden in South Carolina:

All varieties of marigolds, including pot marigolds (Calendula), French and Mexican (Tagates) are among the best companion plants for vegetable gardens as well as ornamental gardens. The only vegetables you shouldn’t plant marigolds near are beans and brassicas (the cabbage family). Plant marigolds to repel whiteflies and ward off nematodes. As companion plants, marigolds are an organic gardener’s best friend, because they help keep slugs off your food crops. We all know slugs are a total menace, munching their way through masses of young vegetable crops and causing devastation. But slugs have a weakness: They adore marigolds. Instead of chomping on your veggies, they’ll head to the marigolds and feast there. So, plant multiple patches all over the garden – just not too close to beans and brassicas.

Few flowers grow as easily and bloom as profusely as cosmos. And those blooms can be put to practical use in the vegetable garden, as they attract many helpful insects. For instance, if you want to draw in green lacewings, choose a white or bright orange variety, such as 'Cosmic Orange'. Green lacewings are voracious eaters of aphids, scale, and thrips. Cosmos also attract many pollinators to the garden.

One final bonus of companion gardening is the ability to place your cutting garden where it won't be judged for its design or appearance. If you want to plant black-eyed Susan, salvia and zinnias that will always be halfway cut down, plant them with the vegetables, where looks don't count as much as function. Let them do dual duty as cut flowers and pollinator lures. Companion planting vegetables, herbs, and flowers is how the original cottage style garden evolved.

Sources:

https://realselfsufficiency.com/

https://www.thespruce.com/flowers-for-the-vegetable-garden

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East Sandhills District

Companion Summer Flowers for Roses

by Bonnie Disney

Mixed or companion planting with roses is not a new idea. Gertrude Jekyll, one of the most influential garden designers of the early twentieth century, along with William Robinson were both early advocates of more natural planting by mixing roses with herbs, bulbs, shrubs, annuals and/or perennials. Although segregating roses to a separate area or bed may be seen as a traditional way to showcase the beauty of a rose, finding rose companions and mixing roses with summer flowers has many advantages and creative opportunities.

An important reason to partner roses with some plants is to attract pollinators and birds in the garden as well as discourage harmful insects for roses.  When roses are grown in isolation a monoculture is created that, unfortunately, can attract harmful insects or even increase the chance of disease occurring. Birds such as the hummingbird will eat the harmful aphids from rose bushes as they fly around looking for nectar. Additionally, some plants such as garlic, onions, chives, parsley, tansy, tomatoes, geranium, marigolds, mint, basil, and other plants may discourage harmful pests. Members of the Allium may even increase the perfume of roses and help prevent black spot. 

Another benefit is that companion plants can add interest, texture and color while the roses are not blooming.  Even repeat-blooming roses seem to take a break during parts of the summer; therefore, well-chosen summer flowers will extend the season with non-stop color or structure.  For example, leggy rose bushes can be hidden with some careful under- planting with long-blooming annuals or perennials.

The creative opportunities for gardeners who adopt companion planting for roses are almost endless.  Each gardener can decide the color scheme and plant selection based upon sun requirements and personal choices. For example, flowering perennials with purple and lavender hues include Catmint (Nepeta), Lavender (Lavandula), Hyssop (Agastache), Sage (Salvia)‘May Night’, Speedwell (Veronica), False Indigo (Baptisia), Foxglove (Digitalis) and many more. Part of the joy of combining plants with roses is being able to choose plant shapes, colors and characteristics that work for a gardener’s particular roses. 

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East Lowcountry District

East Low Country District Gardening

by Kate Copsey

It is often said that you should not plant a rose where one has been planted before, but there is very little research to back this up. One thing that does happen though, is that when a rose has been growing for many years in the same spot, it uses up a lot of nutrients. Consequently, unless you amend with lots of new nutrients, a new rose in the same place will not thrive. It is also well established that most shrubs and plants do not grow well close to Black Walnut toxicity. So, what about plants that are considered good companions in the garden?

The idea of one plant benefiting another is well established, though again, not much research backs this idea up either. Roses are affected by many things including aphids. Marigolds and lavender both have strong scents and are said to deter the aphids from coming near. When the roses are planted alongside marigolds and lavender they reap the benefits of less aphids in the area.

Companion planting is much more established in the vegetable realm where both nutrient depletion and infestations are common problems. Beans and peas add nitrogen to the soil so are often planted before tomatoes in a rotation of crops. Onions, tomatoes, and carrots all grow well together but if you have onions in the ground and plant beans, the germination tends to be poor.

It is also a good idea to plant flowers like marigolds, native sunflowers or lavender, so that you attract more pollinators to your garden which benefit squash, peppers and other summer vegetable favorites. If the flowers also have a positive effect on the bugs in the garden, then there is a little less for you to worry about.

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