It wasn’t until a few years ago, that a revolutionary idea came into my brain. (I am a little behind the times.) Because they were pretty, because they drew the bees in, I decided to plant flowers in my vegetable gardens. As I’ve watched and learned, there are definite benefits to this ecosystem that is beneficial to all concerned. Also, nowhere in the constitution have I found anywhere that outlaws flowers in the gardens….so go ahead and do it! A profusion of pollen and nectar rich flowers among your edible plants can also naturally control pests.
Plentiful food sources will allow the insects to healthily reproduce. Plus, most of their larvae have limited mobility. For example, if a female lady beetle or green lacewing lays her eggs next to the aphids on your violas, the slow moving, carnivorous larvae won’t be able to easily crawl all the way across your yard to also help manage the aphids chowing down on your broccoli. With violas interspersed throughout the garden, it’s a win, win situation.
There are rows and rows of lavender growing in my garden. They invite the bees in droves. Mice aren’t particularly fond of it, but we have battled voles trying to tunnel in and around. They also repel moths.
Nasturtiums repel squash bugs. They are pretty and edible. The root systems of nasturtiums also help break up the soil for radishes.
Add heirloom hollyhocks for visual height appeal and insects love them. If you notice peonies beginning to open to bloom, there will be wasps crawling all over the buds. The nectar is a source of food for them. Wasps are also a predator keeping many insects at bay. Despite their oft times nasty sting, they have a definite use. They eat fly larvae, grasshoppers and many other annoying insects. Just pay attention when they start getting territorial because that means they’re laying eggs and building nests. I’ve noticed the wasps can recognize you. I’ve worked throughout the gardens and never been bothered. They’ll look at me like “Ehh…it’s her again” and go about their business. However, when the time comes that they take the defensive stance with me, I will become all business.
Coreopsis, verbena, marigolds, violas, basil, Echinacea, salvia, sweet basil, mints, petunias, geraniums, and many plants have been added to my gardens. It’s fun to do, it makes things more interesting and imparts grace and loveliness. It’s good for the soul.