Thursday, September 19, 2013

Companion Planting in South Florida

When I first started to contemplate on whether I should have a vegetable garden in South Florida I never thought it would turn into many many blog posts, lots of notes, lots of pictures, lots of frustrating moments, lots of delicious dishes, lots of conversations with friends and family and alot of time spent on it.  Though what I was excited to learn about aside from the farming aspect of a vegetable garden was companion planting.  Unfortunately my grandmother and grandfather on my Mom's side have since passed, taking with them decades of experience.  Gone is their knowledge of running their 65 acre farm in Massachusetts, of growing vegetables and fruit trees in West Palm as well as the art of composting.  Boy I really wish I could have done things differently when they were alive...soooo much I could have learned but I know they would be so proud of what I am doing now.  One of their time honored gardening practices was companion planting.  I remember picking some marigold flowers from my Memere's garden, before I knew it she came out to repremand me.  "No, no, noooo...those are not for picking.  If you pick them all then there will be nothing left to keep the bugs away."  Hence my first introduction into companion planting.
My Memere with veggie's from their garden
My Pop Pop with flowers and veggies
These are the first carrots my brother and I grew.
He was so excited that he pulled them out too early lol.
Below is my list which I put together of many hours of research as to which plants are for what vegetables.  I hope this finds it's way into your garden notes for you and your family to use for many years to come.  If there is anything I am missing please feel free post a comment so I can add it to the list.  I would love to hear from you experienced farmers!
  • Anise – repels aphids, snails and slugs
  • Basil – repels asparagus beetles, tomato heartworms and thrips but never near Rue, plant 3 basil plants for every one tomato plant
  • Bee Balm – attracts bees for pollination; plant near tomatoes
  • Borage – Plant w/strawberries; repels cabbage worms, tomato heart worms & tomato horn worms; bees like it; leaves good trace elements in soil
  • Butterfly (white) Sage – asparagus beetles
  • Chamomile – Plant w/onions & cabbage;
  • Catnip – repels ants, aphids, corn earworms, cucumber beetles, flea beetles, Japanese beetles, squash bugs, weevils and mice; can be used dried too
  • Chives – Plant near tomatoes and carrots repel pests and improve the flavor of the vegetables; repels aphids, Japanese beetles, spider mites & carrot rust flies; chive steeped in water makes great spray to kill powdery mildew disease
  • Cloves – repels cowpea curculio, spider mites and squash vine borers
  • Coriander/Cilantro – repels aphids, Colorado potato beetles and spider mites
  • Dill – Plant w/cucumbers, cabbage & onions, in cool season w/lettuces; repels aphids, cabbage moths and spider mites; sprinkle dill leaves around squash to repel squash bugs; keep away from fennel for cross pollination also not near tomatoes b/c attracts tomato horn worm
  • Fennel – Stunts the growth of other plants so keep it by itself or in butterfly garden (monarchs, swallowtails); it repels aphids, slugs, snails and spider mites; never put it near dill for cross pollination
  • Garlic – repels aphids, cowpea curculio, flea beetles, Japanese beetles, Mexican been leaf beetles, root maggots, spider mites and squash vine borers
  • Geranium – repels Japanese beetles, leaf hoppers
  • Green Bean – repels Colorado potato beetles
  • Horseradish – repels potato beetles
  • Hyssop – repels imported cabbage worms
  • Larkspur – repels Japanese beetles
  • Lavender – repels mice, mosquitoes, moths, rabbits and ticks
  • Lettuce – repels carrot flies
  • Marigold – Plant w/tomatoes & cucumbers; repels aphids, corn earworms, leaf hoppers, Mexican bean leaf beetles, rabbits, squash bugs, thrips and tomato heartworms; must be a scented marigold for it to work (French or Mexican), the stinkier the better
  • Mint – repels ants, aphids, cucumber beetles, flea beetles, imported cabbage worms, rodents, squash bugs and white flies; but never plant near parsley
  • Nasturtium – Plant with tomato’s, cucumbers & zucchini; repels Colorado potato beetles, squash bugs, whooly aphids, whiteflys & cucumber beetles
  • Oleander – repels coddling moths but the red/white & blue moths love them
  • Onion – repels bean leaf beetle, cabbage loopers, carrot flies, flea beetles, harlequin bugs, Mexican bean leaf beetles, mice, rabbits, spider mites and squash vine borers
  • Oregano – Plant near cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber or grape vine; repels cabbage butterflies and cucumber beetles
  • Parsley – repels asparagus beetles and carrot flies; never near mint
  • Pennyroyal – ants can't stand it
  • Petunia – Plant near beans; repels leafhoppers, Mexican bean leaf beetles & squash bugs
  • Potato – repels bean leaf beetles
  • Radish – repels cowpea curculio, cucumber beetles, harlequin bugs, Mexican bean leaf beetles, squash bugs and stink bugs
  • Rosemary – repels imported cabbage worms and slugs; but never plant by potatoes
  • Rue – Plant w/strawberries & fig trees; repels aphids, cats, dogs, Japanese beetles, onion maggots, slugs and snails; never near basil; rue can create allergic reaction so wear gloves
  • Sage – repels cabbage loopers, carrot flies, flea beetles, imported cabbage worms and tomato heart worms; never plant near cucumbers
  • Tansy – repels ants, cucumber beetles, Japanese beetles and squash bugs
  • Thyme – repels cabbage loopers and white flies
  • Tomato – repels asparagus beetles
  • Turnip – repels bean leaf beetles and harlequin bugs
  • Wormwood – repels slugs
My Pop Pop, Memere and Great Grandfather in Massachusetts
This one is actually my great grandparents vegetable garden.
My Companion Planting Notes
There are a number of plants that can protect other plants from pests and disease as well as improve the flavor of certain food plants. Here are some of my garden notes:
  • Basil planted near tomatoes improves flavor and protects against a variety of pests; plant 3 basil plants to every one tomato plant; plant tomatoes near cabbage as tomatoes deter diamondback moth larvae
  • Beans like to be near celery, carrots, corn, potatoes, strawberries and cucumbers but dislike onions and fennel.
  • Cabbage likes dill, beetroot, celery, garlic, nasturtium, onion, peas & potatoes
  • Carrots like chives, garlic, leeks, lettuce, onions, peas & tomatoes
  • Corn likes beans, peas, potatoes & squash
  • Cucumbers and nasturtium; Cucumbers like corn, peas, radishes, beans and sunflowers. They dislike aromatic herbs and potatoes.
  • Horseradish planted at the corners of a potato patch with beans also planted nearby repels potato beetles though not sure what a good measurement of spacing would be for this.
  • Leeks like carrot, celery & onion
  • Lettuce likes carrot, radish & strawberries
  • Onions tackle strawberry’s diseases
  • Peas like beans, carrots, corn, potatoes & turnips
  • Potatoes like beans, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, corn & peas
  • Tomatoes likes asparagus, basil, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, garlic, onions, oregano, parsley & thyme; but never tomatoes near cabbage.
Make Your Own Non-Toxic Pest Repellents and Insecticidal Soaps
North Carolina’s Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance offers a number of recipes for non-toxic pesticides that you can make at home and apply to your plants with a spray bottle, including the following:
  • Grind 3 large onions, 1 bunch of garlic and 3 hot peppers. Mix with water and leave overnight in a covered container. In the morning, strain through fine strainer or cheesecloth and add sufficient water to produce approximately one gallon (16 cups) of pesticide.
  • Soak 10-15 diced garlic cloves in a pint (2 cups) of mineral oil for 24 hours. Strain and add to a spray bottle.
Annie B. Bond, from Care2 Green Living Executive Producer, offers a recipe for all-natural insecticidal soap spray, which uses 1-2 tablespoons of a natural liquid soap such as Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile soap in a quart (4 cups) of water. Once this solution is mixed, it can be added to a spray bottle.

Attract Beneficial Predators Such as Ladybugs, Praying Mantises, Dragonflies and Spiders
Another method of natural pest control is attracting ladybugs to your garden. Ladybugs are voracious consumers of aphids and other garden pests. Plants that attract ladybugs include Angelica, Caraway, Cilantro, Coreopsis, Cosmos (particularly white), Dandelions, Dill, Fennel, Geraniums, Tansy and Yarrow. Ladybugs can also be purchased from certain garden supply stores.  I buy mine from a local garden center called The Garden Gate at the Pompano Citi Centre.
There are other insects that can aid in pest control, such as praying mantises and dragonflies. Spiders (which are arachnids rather than insects) are also highly beneficial.  They love eating cockroaches and I can't stand it's a win, win!

Hope you find companion planting alot easier now and not so intimidating.  Plus herbs add so much nutritional value to our diet as well and many are important to help aid in digestion.  
So get out there and put some herbs in your life.
Happy Gardening and Best Wishes,


  1. This was a very informative post.

    I want to know if you every have problems with racoons or possums in your gardens at night?

    Can you grow veggies in containers in a screened room, roof is also screened?

    Have a great weekend ~ FlowerLady

    1. Hi Lorraine, thank you and so glad you think so! Actually I continue to be surprised that the garden has been relatively left alone for so long. Though I have had a mystery critter eating my tomatoes...right before they start to turn full red! ARGH! I wouldn't feel so bad if they ate the whole tomato, but they just eat a chunk then leave it. It is usually during the day so my guess is birds. Yes, I have grown veggie's inside screened in patio's successfully though I have heard of people not having success in producing fruits. I think it may be due to lack of pollinators inside a screened enclosure. Maybe try having them outside until they the baby fruit show up then bring the pots inside for protection against hungry critters.

      Love your have such a talent! Wishing you a wonderful week!

      Best wishes,

  2. Hello! Do you know where we can get garden compost worms in Pompano? We would use red wigglers, African Nightcrawlers or Blueworms. TY

    1. Hi Winged Lady! Thanks for asking, actually most fresh water fishing/bait and tackle places will sell live worms usually red wigglers or night crawlers. Though Atlantic Bait and Tackle carries nightcrawlers & red worms. They are at 900 East Atlantic Blvd 954-946-1040 And Fisherman's One Stop carries Georgia wiggers and night crawlers. They are at 1649 East Sample Rd. 954-946-1307. Hope this helps and happy composting!