Companion planting is the organic gardener’s alternative to pesticides, herbicides, and synthetic fertilizers. Combing diverse crops of plants that have mutually beneficial relationships, companion planting gives rise to natural conditions which provide habitats for beneficial insects and animals, deter pests, enrich the soil, and increase productivity.
Within permaculture groups of companion plants are refered to as guilds. (Animals can also be part of guilds). The companion plantings/guilds for the Khare family’s permaculutre design are as follows:
FOOD FOREST COMPANION PLANTS:
APPLE TREES: *Garlic (root crop) protects against apple scab and attracts good insects such as lady beetles, lacewingsm and wasps, by providing shelter, pollen and nectar. *Nasturtium (ground cover), planted in a circle around apple trees protects against wooly aphid damage.
PEAR TREES: Pear trees require nitrogen, which can be provided by nitrogen fixers *green beans and *peas (vine/vertical layer);planted at the base of trees they can climb the trunks for support. *Sweet Alyssum (ground cover) acts as a living mulch that shelters beneficial insects such as wasps and hoverflies. *Marigolds (herbacious) to deter pests and keep soil free from nematodes that interfere with the health of the tree.
OTHER FRUIT TREE COMPANIONS: *Lavender (shrub), planted near and under fruit trees, will deter the coding moth, while attracting beneficial insects such as butterflies. *Tansy (herbacious layer) repels flying insects, Japanese beetles, squash bugs, cucumber beetles, moths and ants, and also concentrates potassium into the soil. *Leeks (root layer) improve fruit tree growth.*Garlic accumulates sulfur, which is a natural fungicide that prevents disease in fruit trees. Comfrey (ground cover) is a “dynamic accumulator” with roots that travel eight to ten feet into the soil, collecting minerals which it makes available to the fruit trees.