Garden Companions: Veggies & Flowers
Planting flowers as companion plants in your vegetable garden creates a welcoming environment for pollinators, adds beauty, and is a great addition to your table. It is well known that pollinators; like honey bees and bumble bees, cannot resist a nice, flower full of nectar. Flowers add color and scent to your garden. Also, they are in vogue for your table - not just for the center piece; but, because they are delicious! Considering all of these benefits, it is the year to give companion flowers a try in your garden. (Below is a picture of our Buckwheat in flower providing protection and attracting pollinators to our fields.)
Pollinators; a variety of insects that carry pollen from one plant to another, help vegetables grow by fertilizing the flower which then forms the vegetable. Flowers attract pollinators searching for juicy nectar. Flowers also attract insects that inhibit pests. A good example is the Lady Bug that eats aphids and lays its eggs on the underside of leaves where food is abundant for their larva. Here is a National Geographic link to pictures of lady bugs in the act of pollinating.
It is important to choose a variety of flowers to attract pollinators to your garden. Consider flower height, flowering season, and compatibility to surrounding vegetables, color and scent when choosing your vegetable companions. It is important to plant some tall flowers and early blooming varieties to attract pollinators early. Bees divide and establish their hives in early spring. You want them to notice your garden. Here are pictures of companion plantings from "At Home".