Before you reach for the spray bottle, try flower power for tackling pests and diseases. Many common ailments from aphids to carrot fly can be kept at bay by planting annual flowers and herbs, readily available in our garden centre, alongside your veg. Here are a few to try:
Carrots and spring onions: carrot fly find their prey by smell, detecting carrot foliage a mile off. Plant pungent spring onions alongside, though, and their smell confuses the flies completely.
Roses and garlic: a forest of garlic planted with roses produces essential oils the rose draws up into its system, making it taste revolting to aphids.
Broad beans and nasturtiums: blackflies enjoy nasturtiums even more than broad bean shoots – so plant these annual flowers with beans and the flies abandon your veg for them.
Tomatoes and French marigolds (Tagetes): Another strongly-scented plant, whitefly hate the smell of French marigolds, so plant with tomatoes to keep them whitefly-free.
Lettuce and chervil: you'll have lettuce minus the aphids if you grow them alongside a generous row of leafy chervil: some say slugs dislike it, too. Both make great salad ingredients.
Please ask the staff in our garden centre in Co. Limerick for more information and advice about using herbs and annuals as companion plants.