– Plant French marigolds (Tagetes sp.) to get rid of nematodes – (soil-borne pests that infest the root systems of plants). They don’t like the chemicals that the marigolds exude from their roots. If one of your garden beds is infested with nematodes, mass-plant the area with marigolds, to the exclusion of any other plants, and you’ll starve the nematodes out.
– Confuse the enemy by mixing a variety of plants together, one of the methods of permaculture gardening. A plethora of different aromas can put insects off the scent of their favourite foods.
– Use strong-smelling herbs, such as lavender and tansy, as a mask for the more delicate scents of other crops and herbs. This strategy will keep them free of sap-sucking pests, such as aphids.
– Protect slow-growing, delicate plants from sun, wind or frost by providing them with a nurse plant until they can stand on their own. Use a tough, fast-growing wattle or tall, robust species such as sunflowers as a sheltering canopy for newly planted seedlings.
– Disguise your vegetables and herbs by introducing differently shaped plants into your vegetable patch. This will fool some insect pests that seem to recognise their food sources by shape. It’s believed that cabbage white butterflies, for example, are drawn to the round shape of cabbages.
– Allow some of your vegetables to mature to the flowering stage. The flowers of broccoli, cabbages, cauliflowers and other brassicas are favourite foods for aphids and cabbage white butterflies. The theory is that they will feed among the flowers and ignore the plants.
– Some plants, such as peas and beans, are nitrogen-fixers – they convert nitrogen from the atmosphere into soil-enriching nitrogen compounds. Plant them with a crop that thrives on extra nitrogen, such as corn.
– Don’t leave areas of uncovered soil in your garden. Bare earth is sure to be colonised by weeds, so introduce ground-hugging plants. They’ll leave no room for weeds to set seed and grow.
– Include plants that provide a safe haven for beneficial insects when times are tough. Many of these insects need a source of nectar and pollen to survive while they’re waiting for the pests to arrive. Good choices are alyssum, coriander, gypsophila, nasturtium and Queen Anne’s lace (Anthriscus sylvestris).
– Plant a fast-growing crop such as lettuce or radish to provide shade for slower growing tomatoes or cabbages.