Here are 4 plants you can use to help prevent insect damage in your veggie patch this season.
I’ve chosen these four because they are particularly hardy and easy to grow… and they’re easy to fit into yard or garden without taking up a whole lot of space.
Wondering what this plant looks like?…. That’s Sweet White Alyssum shown in the photo above.
Alyssum is an annual that grows quickly. It makes an excellent ground cover that can do well in rock gardens. You can find several colours and varieties available.
It seems the sweet white alyssum, is especially attractive to predatory insects that like to feast on aphids.
In our greens production, aphids can be a challenge, particularly in lettuce and spinach. Yet, it doesn’t take many alyssum plants in the patch to really make a difference. As few as 500 for a whole acre can give substantial control of these little pests.
Alyssum is a low growing type of flower so it works well to inter plant among your lettuce if you’re growing a few in a back yard patch or in pots. It’s not likely to overshadow and crowd out your lettuce.
Fennel, Coriander and Dill
These common garden herbs are not just popular with humans, but you’ll want to let them flower to really get the added benefits.
Fennel, coriander and dill are all related plant species that can be valuable in the garden. You can use them for greens when immature, but also let some of them flower to provide nectar for lacewings, wasps and more.
Now, if you plant these in among your kale and cabbages, you can get better control over cabbage loupers and flea beetles who really like to dine on brassicas. Just remember, the big benefit for pest control comes from the flowering stage, so you want have your fennel, coriander or dill blooming right next to your cabbage, broccoli, kale and brussel sprouts.
Now if you’re looking for something a little more colourful consider adding yarrow and bachelors buttons.
These flowering plants typically bloom from June to September providing food to support syrphid flies, brachonid wasps and lacewings. The plants also repel aphids.
There are a variety of strains that grow from 10” to as high as 4 feet, so you can select a size that works best for your space. The tops die back each fall and grow back slowly in spring.
You can find these in a range of colours with the most common being shades of yellow-orange and white contrasted with its deep green fern-like leaves. They’re not water hogs so they do well in drier locations and in rock gardens.
Yarrow can be an excellent choice for a perennial border or you can plant a couple of clusters along the back of a rock garden.
Bachelor’s buttons produce mild-flavoured edible flowers, lovely for adding a special touch to deserts and salads.
They come in a range of shades of blues, purples and pinks. Some varieties stay under a foot tall, with others getting up to 2 or 3 feet tall, so you’ll want to consider the space you have and choose the right-sized variety for your plans.
While they’re a favorite of bees and butterflies they’re enjoyed by predatory beneficial insects as well. Planting a border of bachelor’s buttons around your backyard garden can help to minimize insect pest populations that would damage your vegetables. Just remember that these flowers do best in a sunny location.
You can also cut the flowers and bring a little colour indoors. Bachelor’s buttons make lovely, long lasting bouquets.
These are just a few of the plants that we use here at the farm to support beneficial predator insects so we don’t have to resort to chemical pesticides.
If you’re planning on growing a few vegetables at home this year, they can also add a little colour and interest to your garden while helping to protect your vegetable plants from some common pests.