Many gardeners believe that certain plants seem to do better if planted with ones that are compatible. We know that the roots of some plants are allellopathic and can release substances that can inhibit the growth of surrounding plants, and in other cases plants might be affected positively instead. It makes sense to take advantage of these natural attributes and use diverse planting schemes instead of monocrops that are more susceptible to being wiped out by a single organism.
I've had great results with companion planting this fall, as you can see in this photo taken in my backyard this week. The middle barrel in the foreground is planted with Roma tomato and Manoa lettuce; the one on the left holds Sweet 100 cherry tomato and Hawaiian chili pepper; the one on the right has a sweet bell pepper and Chinese chives. I also tucked in some marigolds into each barrel, and perhaps that is what is helping to keep the aphids and leaf miners away.
I started these barrels about a year ago with organic potting mix. This is the second crop I'm growing organically in these barrels. Before planting again this time, I used a granular organic fertilizer, mixing it in before planting. I add fish emulsion/kelp extract every couple of weeks to keep it flourishing.
Under the pepper plants I placed a mulch of heavy-duty aluminum foil (see earlier post) which seems to have helped their growth and repel aphids with the reflected light and heat.
I've never seen these plantings look so healthy! Planted in the ground around the barrels are native hibiscus: the white flowered, softly scented kokio ke'o ke'o and pink blossomed akiohala. Native kupukupu fern is also starting to sprout around the base of the barrels.
I'm looking forward to some tasty homegrown salad in the upcoming holiday season, I think. Time to start planning....