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Top plants to ward off critters and protect your crops.

Garden pros Martin Fish and Chris Smith reveal how to protect plants from critters and boost your harvest, writes Hannah Stephenson.

other For generations, companion planting has been used to repel pests, or at least lure them to anplant away from your crops, as well as attracting beneficial insects who will eat some of the nuisance ones.

"It can be to deter pests, to attract bees and insects for better pollination of fruit and vegetables, to improve growing conditions for other plants by creating shade, to attract insects that feed on pests, and of course, to make your garden look even more attractive," says gardening consultant, broadcaster and RHS judge Martin Fish, who will be hostitheatre talks at RHS Chatsworth Flower Show in June.

ng Fish and master grower Chris Smith, owner of Pennard Plants (pennardplants.com), who will be displaying his edible plants and heritage seeds at the show, offer the following advice...

1. Distract nuisance pests - Use nasturtiums, which are great for attracting pollinators, but they also attract aphids and cabbage white butterflies, so be prepared to plant them as sacrificial plants to draw pests from other plants.

The old-fashioned orange-flowered pot marigold (Calendula) can be used around any table plants that are attacked by ds. The sticky substance of the pot gold leaves attract and trap aphids. "They are better in spaces where scent can be confined but good he garden too. Marigolds are rticularly excellent in greenhouse and olytunnels."

vege aphid mari "T the in t par po intoobfl " Basil can easily be grown from seedearly summer, so plant it around omatoes to help deter whitefly and other pests. It's also said that growing basil close to tomatoes improves their flavour.

2. Attract b fli l l beneficial predators - The white fl owering annual, alyssum (Lobularia), makes a low growing plant and when planted between lettuce and other salad crops, the white flowers attract hoverflies that feed on aphids.

Herbs such as mint, thyme, fennel, dill and sage should be allowed to flower, as the blooms will attract pollinating insects and other beneficial insects such as hoverflies.

3. Plant things which repel pests - French marigolds Tagetes) planted between tomatoes and cucumbers in a greenhouse help to repel whiteflies, which can be a real pest. Plant spring onions between rows of carrots as the strong onion scent will help to deter or confuse carrot root flies. Grow some garlic too. Again, the smell will help repel pests.

he If you grow asparagus and have problems with asparagus beetle, plant some tomatoes in between, which will help repel the beetle.

4. Grow pretty companions - Grow sweet peas in the vegetable plot close to runner beans. The scented flowers are great for cutting and will also attract bees and pollinating insects to pollinate the beans.

A selection of hardy annuals, such as nigella, cosmos, calendula, sunflowers and amaranthus, not only looks good and can be used as cut flowers, they also attract pollinators and beneficial insects into the garden.

5. Give shade to vulnerable crops - Grow taller plants such as sweetcorn and climbing beans on the sunny side of lettuce and salad crops, to provide shade.

6. Discourage ants - If you have ant problems, grow some mint - it deters them completely.

7. Clear caterpillars - Hyssop, particularly anise hyssop planted among cabbages and other brassicas, will help deter cabbage whites from landing and laying the eggs.

8 Lov for to an co po mc 8. Plant health-boosting companions - vage is an excellent companion plant all crops except rhubarb - it is said improve the health of most plants d is considered 'the magic bullet' of ompanion planting. Borage attracts ollinators and assists the growth of ost plants, particularly strawberries, ucurbits and tomatoes and the leaves make excellent liquid fertiliser or can be sed as a mulch.

u mu hmb Chives are also beneficial to plant health as the leaves can be used to make a 'tea' which is good for treating black spot and mildew, as it contains sulphur. The flowers also attract bees and deter cabbage root fly and carrot root fly.

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Publication:Express and Star (Wolverhampton, England)
Date:May 25, 2019
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