My "nephew" Tyler would like to ask a question, while he's visiting today...Do you plant flowers with your vegetables? If so, what flowers do you like to use?
Annuals go right in the beds with the veggies - things that attract pollinators such as zinnias. Some folks put marigolds in to repell insects, but I have a marigold that ATTRACTS them because it has a lovely perfume. I want insects, and I get away more tomatoes and beans than most folks get because of all the pollination going on!
I have perennials around the veggies Roses, prairie plants that attract beneficial insects...
Yes, in fact, I have a flat of calendulas ready to interplant. The garden also has flower borders around the edges. I like to plant lots of basil with the tomatoes. I also direct sow lots of French marigolds here and there.
I plant them in the kitchen garden, but not in the tomato beds.
Tyler says- Thanks for telling me all these wonderful facts. I might use your ideas in my garden. I am planting strawberries and squash and pole beans.
I know I'm late, but I always try to plant marigolds next to my tomatoes. I read somewhere (long ago) that they deter the bad insects and attract the beneficial ones. :)
But, yes, I usually have all sorts of annual cutting flowers stuck in my veggie garden, including gladiolas.
GGG, what are some of your favorite annuals for getting the helpers to appear? This is a new are for me, with the exception of the tomato-marigold-bad insect combo. I haven't heard of planting bug attractors. Would love some of your recommendations!
Today we are going to prepare for "three sisters" vegetable planting, even though i can't put the corn seeds in the ground yet.
There is only one marigold that detracts pests and it only detracts "invisible" root pests. Most of those you buy in a store don't attract much because like many of the bedding plants of today, the scent has been completely bred out of the plant in favor of a long lasting, weather proof flower. I guess you can't always have it all!
Bug attractors: ROSES! Roses attract aphids, aphids attract lacewings, ladybugs, surphid flies and other great insects who's larvae eat up aphids and other "bad" bugs! Flowers that supply "canopy" for good insects to hide under when it rains (or take a nap) such as the tall black eyed susans I grow. They get nice leaf coverage. They are also dense, well mulched and in moist ground which is the type of breeding ground ladybugs adore!
-Neither of those are annuals, but I would add them to the garden somewhere
Mid-summer attractors are cut leaf coneflowers and cup plant - they bring pollinating bees out to play. Of course the bees don't eat anything but the pollen...in squash, beans, the flowers, tomatoes, and so many other wonderful veggies! I have so many tomatoes! Zinnias (from seed, tall ones), and vines such as the purple hyachinth bean vine would be great annuals to try for this purpose.
Basil I grow some flower basils (like african basil) for cutting and to attract bees and butterflies.
Night pollinators: don't forget that night time is the right time! Many tomatoes flower in the evening in warm weather and drop flower in the day - so there is a very narrow window for pollinating! I grow all kinds of moonflower vines and also gingers which are perennial here for us that bloom and scent at night. Nicotiana would serve you nicely for this purpose.
I hope this helps, Deanna. Perhaps adding some sunflowers in with your garden - the old fashioned type loaded with pollen, would help your 3 sisters garden. Bees enjoy them too!
The most obvious would be marigolds, nasturtium and sunflowers.
Jinx! I just read today about using sunflowers as a living fence for Three Sisters, and I wondered why. Your post has certainly helped me answer that question! Thanks for the great info. Zinnias are my #1 favorite flower and I was going to have a little cutting garden area. Sounds like it might be smarter to spread the zinnias throughout the veggies and get some good benefits. I appreciate all your info.
Is there a good source you recommend to learn more about this? I had a terrible aphid problem last year and few ladybugs. Funny thing, but in the N. Ga. mountains we were COVERED UP in ladybugs. They visited us inside all of our buildings every spring (and fall, maybe?--can't remember). Huge population there. Kept wishing I had the same problem up here in NH!
I plant vegetables with my flowers. I have four raised beds for vegetables, I grow tomatoes, squash, beans, and cucumbers there. Off to one side, there's the rose garden. Behind it, the upper meadow which will be full of daisy like blooms and tall red salvia. I've scattered dill seeds too. And the red clover already has my backyard buzzing with activity.
I've got bush zucchini planted in the new bed. I scattered a few bush bean plants in there too. Datura, nicotiana, and Four O'clocks make up the majority of the planting. I just ran out of potager space. It's only 160 sqft.
I want to thank everyone for taking the time to answer Tyler's question. He is 10 years old and planning his first garden this year. He loves watermelon and wants to plant several, along with his strawberries, pole beans and squash. He's heard that radishes and nasturtiums are supposed to help with squash and melons, so he wanted to ask if any of you use flowers in your garden. I will print this off for him in a few days (in case anyone else wants to add anything). He's VERY excited about his garden :)
A book that's really helped me is Sally Jean Cunningham's "Great Garden Companions". It has all kinds of information on what flowers to plant to bring beneficial insects into the vegetable garden.
I have that book too. Check out Louise Riotte's stuff too. Carrots Love Tomatoes is one I reread all the time.
Deana, it takes 3 years to get a balance for integrated pest management in the yard using no chemical fertilizers or pesticides or cleaning agents outside the home. So if you don't have ladybugs now, you will. They need to find you on their travels. I now have the most amazing summer garden - it just moves in waves of insects to and fro. Thousands and thousands of them all good and bad together, and really, I get a tomato hornworm or two, maybe some canna leaf rollers on some cannas, a few cabbage loppers. By the end of summer I do have many annoying leaf footed bugs, and bean beetles but there is nothing that eats them so I'm stuck with them. Lavender Lass, I have not read that book. Thank-you for sharing it!