You’ve gone to the trouble of planting an edible garden – but there’s a small problem. So small you can’t always see it, in fact: garden pests. They’re gnawing away at the salad greens you were planning to eat yourself – but how do you deter them without making your edibles toxic to you? The answer is right there in your garden.
Before you get over-zealous with your anti-pest campaign, keep in mind that a huge majority of the insects and wildlife that come to your garden are actually beneficial – and you want to welcome them. For the remaining percentage of pests that are harmful, though, there are some totally natural and surprisingly effective ways to repel them without harming your edibles.
Try companion planting
A natural living guru in all areas of home-making, the Wellness Mama recommends planting your garden with a mind to symbiotic relationships – 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:
- Dill is tasty, and it protects cabbages, cucumbers, and lettuce from pests.
- Basil 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 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.
To maximize the efficacy 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 powerfully 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 then your kitchen, but this list is far from exhaustive – see a more comprehensive version here.
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.