You’ve gone to the trouble of planting an edible garden – but there’s a small problem. So small that you can’t always see it. They’re gnawing away at the salad greens you were planning to eat yourself – but how do you deter them without using pesticides on food you plan to eat? The answer is right there in your garden.
Before you get over-zealous with your anti-pest campaign, keep in mind that a some of the insects and wildlife that come to your garden are actually beneficial – and you want to welcome them. For the remaining pests that are harmful, there are some totally natural and surprisingly effective ways to repel them without harming your bounty.
Try companion planting
A natural living guru in all areas of home-making, the Wellness Mama, recommends planting your garden with symbiotic relationships in mind – also called companion planting. Certain plants use teamwork to repel pests (and to create great flavors). Some age-old produce and herb pairings stem from companion planting techniques:
- This herb is tasty and it protects cabbages, cucumbers, and lettuce from pests.
- This guy is tomato’s best friend – in the garden and in your caprese salads. Share the love and pair basil with peppers too.
- Onions and chives
- They amp up the flavors of almost every dish, but the plants do particularly well with repelling bugs from cabbages, cucumbers, broccoli, tomatoes, strawberries, and peppers.
- These lovelies are a colorful and cheerful addition to any garden! Not only will they add a bright pop of color to your bounty, but they are also effective at repelling mosquitoes, tomato worms, and squash bugs. They also attract ladybugs and lacewings that are beneficial insects that will eat bugs that eat your plants.
To maximize the benefit of these pairings, make sure your “power couples” are planted relatively close to one another. You can plant in alternating rows, or you can even try surrounding the more vulnerable edibles with the herbs in a “fortress” technique.
Learn to love herbs
Growing your own fresh herbs make meals a lot more interesting – and can have serious benefits for the rest of your garden. Here are some of the most powerful insect-repelling herbs:
- The classics: parsley, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and basil
- Mint (especially spearmint and peppermint)
- Garlic (will also deter vampires!)
- Lavender (repels pests and calms you down after worrying about them)
We focused on herbs that do double duty in your garden and your kitchen, but this list is far from exhaustive – here’s a more comprehensive version.
Use a holistic approach to combat garden pests – naturally
A bit of research before buying your seedlings will make a world of difference in the hardiness of your garden. Choose plant and herb pairings that keep pests away – and keep your edibles thriving all summer.