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Friday, 29 January 2010

Add flowers to your vegetable patch.

You may have heard gardeners talk about companion planting. This practice is based on the belief by many gardeners that certain plant groupings are in some way beneficial.

There is much argument as to whether some aspects of this belief has any scientific basis. An investigation into whether certain plant combinations work or not could form an interesting investigation for children to undertake; for instance do nasturtiums attract aphids away from broad beans or do marigolds repel whitefly away from tomatoes.

There is little doubt, however that flowers do attract beneficial insects which can only be a good thing. They provide another dimension to a vegetable patch. Not only by providing colour and the opportunity to study insects at close quarters but also by providing a crop of cut flowers for the classroom.

If you have space a patch of native wild flowers is especially effective in supporting a range of indigenous insects. A patch of nettles tucked away in a corner will provide a food plant for many butterfly caterpillars (don't worry not cabbage whites!) and the leaves (not roots) can be used on the compost heap. Also a patch of grass that is allowed to form seed heads attracts many insects. To provide a food supply for as many insects as possible you need to choose different shapes of flowers e.g. tube shapes and daisy shapes.and also have some flowers that grow throughout the season.

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Anonymous said...

Hello, just found your wonderful blog via Blotanical and will be sharing it with my school age daughter! We've planted a couple of vegetables near the plants that attract butterflies and bees almost by mistake - but they veges are all the better for it!

Green Lane Allotments said...

Glad that you have found us and I hope your daughter finds it interesting.

We have lots of flowers on our allotment not only do we cut them but it is good to sit having a coffeee amongst flowers watching the bees.

We grow lots of sweet peas too but only sow ones that have a scent - a sweet pea without a scent isn't a sweet pea as far as I'm concerned!

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