Companion Planting-Summer Squash
EM is not an organic operation but be use organic practices to grow the healthiest produce. One of the practices is companion planting. Companion planting is planting purposefully selected plants near certain crops, to provide certain benefits. In our case pests were the main issue.
I did not want to spray my crop often, but I knew with spring and summer crops pests would be a huge problem. Squash plants have the worse pest problems out of all my summer crops. In 2018, when I planted my first bed of crookneck squash, I noticed tons of “squash bugs” (Anasa). In a 4 feet wide, 10 foot long raised bed, I noticed at least 40 squash bugs during a 2 month growing season. This year I noticed only 2 squash bugs in my squash bed. This is due to the two companion plants I planted in the box. I planted chocolate mint at the top of the box and sweet on the side of the box. (Watch our Planting Summer Squash video)
Mint has a strong smell which deters squash bugs from smelling the squash aroma. This reduces the amount of squash bugs coming into the bed. Once a squash bug lands into the bed, they lay eggs and create more squash bugs. Therefore, simply killing the bugs you do see will only temporarily solve the issue. Squash bugs inject their sharp mouthparts and suck sap from the plant tissue. This causes wilting in the plant, which will appear as yellow light-colored areas on the leaves that later turn brown and die.
I planted other companion plants near different crops but not in such a close facility as the squash bed. For example, I planted two basil plants within a 150-foot row of 52 tomato plants. To closely monitor the reactions of the tomato plants to the basil surrounding, I would have to plant more basil. Approximately 2 basil plants per tomato plant.
If you are looking to try companion planting in your garden, research is your greatest tool. Not all plants can be grown near each other. Some plants, such as cucumbers does not like to be grown near sage plants.
Below are the different stage of a healthy squash plant during the growing and bearing season.