COMPANION PLANTING - Matthew Tanton Brown, 9th February 2019
Matthew Tanton Brown
Matthew is a consultant and the part time manager at ‘A Place for Plants’ in East Bergholt. Having learned his horticultural skills at RHS Wisley and at Merrist Wood and Hadlow Colleges his knowledge of this subject was extensive.
The talk embraced companion planting in its widest sense, from rotational planting of vegetables, through to beneficial plant associations and on to the clever grouping of plants for texture, colour and stature in the garden.
Matthew described the use of three and four year rotations to minimize the spread of pests and diseases. The use of low hedges could also be of benefit, not only in deterring pests, such as carrot root fly, but in making vegetable plots more interesting.
Using one plant species to either attract, or deter pests and diseases is a well known technique of the ancient herbalists and Matthew gave several examples of good companions. Dill with Cabbages deters aphids, basil under tomatoes for whitefly and aphids and African marigolds turned in before potatoes against eel worm. Borage deterred moles and Artemisia, mice. The silicon in Artemisia and horse tails deterred slugs and snails. However, steeped Rhubarb leaves sprayed against rose black spot needed to be treated with extreme caution, although steeped comfrey and nettle made excellent fertilisers.
Finally he discussed the placement of plants to provide contrasts in texture and colour, but warned against planting several different variegated leaved plants in the same area. Climbers planted in trees, or over buildings and ground cover plants to reduce water loss and weeds were all examples of companion planting.