I have been gardening since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. Both of my parents were avid gardeners and they quickly got all of us kids involved. I learned a lot about companion gardening, that is, gardening without pesticides. Companion gardening is placing two or more plants close together and their proximity is beneficial.

As a companion plant, marigolds control a host of pests like aphids, nematodes, squash bugs, thrips, tomato hornworms, white flies, cabbage loopers, Mexican bean beetles and cabbageworms. Marigolds work especially well near tomatoes, roses, strawberries, and potatoes.

I have read not to plant marigolds near beans, or any member of the cabbage family, like Brussels sprouts or cabbage varieties, since they can act as a herbicide to these crops. Marigolds are a good deer, rabbit, and squirrel deterrent; and the color and vibrancy attracts beneficial insects such as wasps and lacewings, which can pollinate your garden.

There are many books, brochures, and internet sites all devoted to companion plantings. Sheridan Nurseries has a companion planting page on their website, http://www.sheridannurseries.com/garden_tips/general_gardening/companion_planting

Other flowers used for companion plantings:

• Nasturtium (annual) – deters Colorado potato bug, squash bug, and whitefly • Artemisia (perennial) – deters slugs • Perennial Yarrow – attracts ladybugs that consume masses of aphids

Many herbs make superb companion plants. However, any time you plant herbs consider planting them in pots. Herbs are notorious for taking over your whole garden. Here is the plant list from Sheridan and the bugs they repel:

• Garlic –aphids, fleas, Japanese beetles, and spider mites. • Chives – aphids and spider mites. Chives are often planted among roses to repel aphids and resist black spot disease. • Basil – flies and mosquitoes. • Borage – tomato hornworm. • Rosemary and sage – cabbage moth, bean beetles, and carrot flies.

"Companion planting" includes planting other vegetables next to each other for best insect-control results.

• Beans like celery and cucumbers, but dislike onions and fennel. • Beets are compatible with bush beans, lettuce, onions, kohlrabi, and most members of the cabbage family. Keep pole beans and mustard away from the above list. • Cabbage, celery, dill, onions, and potatoes are good companion plants. Dislikes include strawberries, tomatoes, and pole beans. • Carrots, lettuce, radish, onions, and tomatoes are friends. Dill isn’t, so plant it at the other end of the garden. • Corn prefers to be near pumpkins, peas, beans, cucumbers, and potatoes. Keep tomatoes away. • Cucumbers like sweet corn, peas, radishes, beans, and sunflowers. Dislikes include aromatic herbs and potatoes. • Lettuce grows especially well with onions. They are also compatible with strawberries, carrots, radishes, and cucumbers. • Onions can be planted near lettuce, beetroot, strawberries, and tomatoes but keep well away from peas and beans. • Peas, carrots, cucumbers, sweet corn, turnips, radishes, beans, potatoes, and aromatic herbs are good companions. Keep peas away from onions, garlic, leek, and shallots. • Radish grows well with beets, carrots, spinach, parsnip, cucumbers, and beans. Avoid planting near cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, or turnips. • Squash can be planted with cucumbers and corn. • Tomatoes, carrots, onions, and parsley grow well together. Basil improves growth and flavor.

Insects also play an important role in your garden. Remember they are a gardener’s friend.

• Lacewing feeds on aphids, mealybugs, mites, and scale, but needs lots of pollen from flowers and evergreens for shelter. • Wasps and bees are beneficial pollinators. • Preying mantis is helpful, do not discourage it from visiting. • Spiders may look scary, but often catch harmful visitors. Keep them there to catch the "bad guys!"

Companion planting is the ancient way of pest control and truly the green way to go! Get that green thumb going!

Reach Lynn Youngblood at TheGreenSpace@sbcglobal.net.