If you have not been growing flowers in your vegetable garden then you have been doing it wrong. Every vegetable garden must have flowers! Growing flowers in your vegetable garden will not only make your garden look beautiful but it will also help increase the diversity of plants and wildlife, it will increase your garden’s resilience, protect the soil and keep your garden growing strong.
No annual is more cheerful or easier to grow than the marigold. I love how they pop with color in our vegetable garden from late spring until autumn. They together with nasturtiums are a MUST have in every vegetable garden. But why choose to grow marigolds?
1. They Are Very Easy To Grow
Sow marigolds in full sun and they will shine. Sow them late in spring, just after the last frost. I normally plant mine around mid September and make a second planting in summer for great autumn colour. Sow seeds about 5 cm apart and 1 cm deep. They will sprout within a week and their germination rate is always guaranteed. Thin to about 20 cm apart for dwarf varieties and allow 30 cm between very tall varieties. You will enjoy their blooms in about 8 weeks.
2. They Are Excellent Companions for most veggies
Marigolds a fantastic companions for most vegetables. I never grow my tomatoes, beans, okra, spinach and squash without marigolds alongside them. Their strong smell wards off most pests. Plus both African (Tagetes erecta) and French marigolds (Tagetes patula) produce alpha-terthienyl, a substance that suppresses nematodes, microscopic worms that attack the roots of plants.
In addition to helping control pests, they also attract bees, ladybirds and butterflies that not only pollinate, but also help control bad bugs.
3. They Are Extremely Hardy
Hardiness is one of the reasons why I love them so much. In my book, the sign of a good flower is one that doesn’t require attentive watering and care. You will only need to water them if the weather has been very dry for more than a week. Remember not to water them from overhead, water at the base of the plant. Excess water can lead to powdery mildew.
4. They Are Incredibly Rewarding
You only have to plant marigolds once in your garden and you will have them for life. They will readily self-seed throughout your vegetable garden and pop up generously, year after year.
Make Your Own Insect Repellent
- Put water and marigolds in a blender and pulse for just a few seconds. The mixture should still be chunky.
- Place in a bottle and let it sit in a cool dark place for 2 days. Shake occasionally.
- After the 2 days have passed, strain the mixture out.
- Pour into a spray bottle with water
- You can also add 1/4 tsp of liquid soap to help the mixture to stick to your plants. I also add garlic, and lots of chili!
Have fun with marigolds. Arrange them any way you like, around the perimeter of the garden, in rows between rows of vegetables, or in groupings.
Happy Gardening, Manti