Planting companions that thwart pests from ruining your vegetable garden is a good and fun idea. From Horticulture Magazine,
“Certain plants repel pests. Planting them in or near your vegetable garden will reduce the need for pesticides.
Grow marigolds among vegetables. Marigold roots secrete a substance that destroys nematodes and eel worms.
Include garlic (Allium sativum) in the vegetable garden, or even garlic’s cousins, the ornamental alliums. Alliums of all sorts exude enzymes from their roots that are toxic to many pests. Rue, mint, tansy, lavender, sage, rosemary and wormwood all deter a variety of pests. so include these herbs. Nettles attract early aphids that provide food for emerging ladybugs. So the nettles keep the aphids off other plants, and encourage natural predators. Nasturtiums are irresistible to aphids, so use them as a decoy. Plant them well away from the vegetable garden as the aphids’ private dining room.”
I’ve had a bad time with bad nematodes (yes, there are good nematodes, too!) killing my squash and mellon plants last year. They had also infected my tomato plants, tho I didn’t know that until I uprooted the winter-killed plant. You know nematodes have been at work when the roots of your plants, dead or alive, have bumpy nodules all over them. Those nodules house the wicked nematodes! It sounds like a sci-fi thriller, doesn’t it! Alas, the intergallactic adventures of gardening!
So, I’m strategizing on how to win the battle with the nematodes. I heard in a gardening forum that including a tablespoon of sugar and/or ground mustard seed in the hole with the plant at time of planting will ward off nematodes. This suggestion, along with marigolds, is my plan of attack. I’ll let you know if it works!
Last year I watched my dill plant nearly crawl with ladybug larvae. I purchased ladybugs and released them twice in my yard and they seemed to simply fly away. I had an aphid infestation on my powis castle bushes and decided to get serious with some organic combat. I released 5,000 ladybugs (granted that about 1/3 of them arrived dead) and 1,000 lacewing eggs onto the powis castle. Not using any pesticide, I hoped these good bugs would reproduce and take up residence in my garden. The dillweed seemed like the perfect host for the ladybugs to reproduce on. Unfortuneately, I only had one dill plant. More plants probably would have meant more ladybugs. This spring I am waiting to see the ladybug larvae arrive on their own, without purchased adults being released first.
This is what a lady bug larva looks like. It’s important to know what the various stages of good bugs look like so you don’t mistake them for a pest and kill them.