Archive for the ‘Companion Planting’ Category

Protect your Veggies from Chemicals

Posted on: December 2nd, 2012 by Annette No Comments

One huge advantage of growing your own veggies at home is that you can control the chemicals applied to them and deter the bugs that invariably try to eat them before you do. But why is this important?

pesticides for veggiesPesticides Contaminate

A recent news report out of Israel states that a third of the pesticides they use are banned in Europe, and that the Israel Union for Environmental Defense found high levels of as many as 105 pesticides in fruit and veg grown in that country. Those most affected were apples, grapes and celery.

This doesn’t mean that what they are doing in Israel is illegal, but one wonders how easily the treated crops could reach our own tables. Israel exports food all over the world, and so how would you even guess that it might be contaminated? Even if you don’t live in Israel or buy food that originated there, there may be food on your supermarket shelves that has been treated with pesticides that ironically lower their “quality”.

Particularly scary is the fact that many modern pesticides have been formulated so that the stuff that kills the bugs can’t be removed by watering (clearly to stop it washing off in the rain). Do you want to consume pesticides? According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are at least 20,000 pesticides on the market and about 1-billion pounds of pesticide are used every year for agriculture. That’s just in the US. Even the cynics are beginning to realize that they do do damage! The ideal is organic vegetables that have not been treated with pesticides.

Vegetables you can Expect to Have Been Treated with Pesticides

In June 2012, the US Environmental Working Group (EWG), which aims to do everything possible to protect the environment and public health, produced a list of the 12 produce items with the highest pesticide content. Apples and celery topped the list (in keeping with the Israeli findings), while grapes popped in at number seven. The rest, from three to 12 were, strawberries, peaches, spinach, nectarines, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, blueberries, lettuce, and kale and collard greens.

Fruit and Veg that Escape the Pesticide Plague

The EWG also published a list of the least contaminated fruit and veg. from 1-15: Onions, corn, pineapples, avocado, asparagus, sweet peas, mangoes, eggplant, cantaloupe, kiwifruit, cabbage, watermelon, sweet potatoes, grapefruit, and mushrooms. Interesting that tomatoes don’t feature on either list.

The Solution?

Grow your own veggies at home. Use organic fertilizers and natural pesticides; and practice companion planting. Our book Companion Planting for Veggies comes with a free bonus book Natural Pest Control Remedies. It contains 50 tips and recipes for banishing pests in your veggie garden using safe and natural solutions. You can easily make them in your kitchen!

Planting Companions for your Tomatoes

Posted on: March 13th, 2012 by Annette 2 Comments

tomatoes companion planting

There’s a classic book called Carrots love Tomatoes that was written by a North American woman, Louise Riotte, nearly four decades ago.

Considered by many to be the “bible” of companion planting, it was first published in 1975, and is still on the bookstore bookshelves years after her death in 1998. But in those days the idea of growing particular plants together for mutual benefit was something most backyard gardeners either rejected or failed to consider.

Today, with the ever- growing trend of things organic, and an increasing awareness of the need for sustainability, home gardeners – and many commercial gardeners for that matter – are practicing companion planting, along with crop rotation, green manuring and other natural pursuits.

Why Tomatoes Need Companions

While the companions favoured by different plants vary, the reasons for companion planting are essentially (within broad parameters) the same for all of them. While not all companions fulfil the same function, broadly speaking certain companion plants will:

  • attract bad bugs
  • attract good, beneficial bugs
  • assist pollination
  • feed and nourish the soil
  • provide shade
  • provide support

The end result is that by planting good, suitable companions for the vegetables and other plants you are growing, you will find that you are able to minimise the pests in your veggie garden and produce beautifully healthy, organic crops for the table.

The Tomato’s Favourite Companions

Plants that are acknowledged to be the tomato’s best friend are asparagus, basil, cucumber, gooseberries, marigolds, nasturtiums, onions and other members of the onion family, including chives, parsley, stinging nettles and yarrow. They are also compatible with garlic.

tomatoes companion plantingOf course carrots are also reputedly an excellent companion for tomatoes, although oddly enough Louise Riotte doesn’t explain why in her book about companion planting. She had an article published on the Internet in 1992, titled Carrots love Tomatoes: Companion Planting for a Healthy Garden, and she doesn’t elaborate there either! Carrots have antiviral properties which might be why tomatoes like them; although the Riotte book’s title seems to state that carrots benefit from tomatoes, not necessarily the other way around. Tomatoes certainly protect roses against black spot, although roses don’t necessarily benefit from tomatoes. And it is the active solanine (a powerful natural insecticide) in tomato leaves that is so special … so maybe this is what the carrots like too.

It is this way with all companion plants, and in this instance, some like tomatoes, while tomatoes benefit from others. Marigolds probably come out tops, since they have a powerful active ingredient that gets rid of the nematodes (or eelworms) that so often attack tomatoes.

Plants that Tomatoes Don’t Like

Tomatoes belong to the nightshade family (solanaceae), as do peppers, eggplants (aubergines), and Irish potatoes, and it is a golden rule in gardening not to grow plants from the same family together. They simply don’t like one another, and therefore won’t thrive.

The other family of plants that tomatoes despise are the brassicaceae – members of the cabbage and mustard family. These plants include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and Chinese cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, radishes, rutabaga, and turnips.

They also hate fennel … but then so do most other vegetables.