Mark Reed wrote:I personally don't put much stock in tales of companion planting. Seems to me there are just way too many variables at play. For example I've heard tomatoes love basil. I do grow tomatoes and basil together because we like those flavors together and it's easy to pick a tomato and a basil leaf and have an instant snack. I have however seen no evidence at all that either of those plants grows better with or without immediate proximity. I figure it would take many years of running experiments, in many varied locations and with many different varieties of these two species to establish if a benefit or deficit is actually related. I'm not going to do that and I'm unaware if anyone has, despite the claims.
That said and I apologize as this is just anecdotal, I do see benefit from what I might call confused planting. I have a lot of volunteer vegetables in my garden which I often leave in place. Also, especially switching to no till where an entire bed is not necessarily planted all it once in the same crop. Kind of what has evolved is a largely haphazard mix of my planting. In the old days I would have had a bed of squash, a bed of cabbage and so on. Now I may have just as many plants of those vegetables but the they might be scattered all over place.
It appears and again just anecdotal, that I have less problems with all diseases and bugs, even animals and birds. Not that they are eliminated just that they don't seem to take hold and ruin a whole crop as easily. And they are easier to combat, if for example a squash plant is attacked it can be removed and the pest destroyed and often it's just that one plant involved because it is the only squash plant in the immediate vicinity.
My theory is planting this way in effect serves first as camouflage, hiding a host plant from a pest that prefers it. Second it stops the spread to adjoining plants early on so infections can be eliminated before they get a good foothold. I also believe that letting a weed or two grow here and there helps too.
Apparently, squash bugs are deterred by the odor of these plants. She also puts vine-like nasturtium among the vines to confuse the bugs, which will go for the nasturtiums thinking they are squash.
Debbie Ann wrote:Have you ever tried it?