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Beneficial Plants For Growing

Added 3 May 2021

Introduction

When it comes to growing any kind of crop with the goal to harvest, including those lovely cannabis flowers, there are plants out there that your crop can benefit from and this is called "Companion Planting" or "Companion Growing". This is the practice of growing different varieties of plants together to be able to make their productivity rise and get a better harvest. Not only is that a good reason to do it, by far it is one of the most organic and natural ways of improving your harvest! There are many benefits to "Companion Growing" so let us take a closer look at this!

Below are just a few examples of some growers on our Growdiaries platform using this method, and as you can see, companion growing is not only done in full soil, this can easily be done in pots with the right size! :

A few reasons why

There are many reasons and benefits coming from companion growing and these are the main :

  • Plant health improvement : Each plant has its own effect on the soil biochemistry  and when combined correctly certain plants will be beneficial to nearby plants ( for example basil and tomatoes work perfectly together for many reasons, check the reference at the bottom! )
  • Deterring pests : Some plants are natural insect repellents and deter critters that are unwanted in our grow area ( for example garlic is a deterrent for many bugs because of the smell )
  • Fertile soil : Different crops, but especially those with long taproots, bring up nutrients from deep down enriching the soil on top so this can benefit a shallow-rooted plant
  • Attraction : Some plants will attract beneficial bugs that can help us fight off unwanted ones ( for example borage, or cucumber weeds, can attract bees and small pest-eating wasps )
  • Support : A tall plant with a strong structure can give support to lower-growing or crawling plants such as tomatoes and pumpkins
  • Weed suppression : Plants with a structure that is tall and upright with minimized open spots will help suppress the growth of unwanted weeds.
  • Shadow control : Not very needed for a cannabis grower but still a good pointer to give. A large plant such as corn can provide some sun protection if needed for plants in need of shadow in the hottest moments such as lettuce

And since there are so many types of plants to be used in this setting, let us go over a few that will help you a long way, especially in the greenhouse or outdoors.

Garlic and garlic spray

A crop that is one of the easiest to grow and maintain but also very beneficial to keep certain insects and critters away. Using this for pest control is probably the most cost-efficient way, easy to do, and completely "green" because it is not toxic and fully organic! It is a good crop to have growing on the side in the area of your lovely fields of green as a permanent deterrent, but it can also be used as a spray!

Here is how you can make it :

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Crush the garlic ( a blender is advised, a weak spray is about 2 cloves per liter, a strong spray is a full head/knob per liter or even more )

Mix with boiling water briefly

Let it cool and sit overnight

Strain before putting in a spray can

As a precaution, you can spray your plants once a week from top to bottom, and don't forget to go under the leaves because that's where many bugs like to hide and lay their eggs! Feel free to spray the area you are growing and also other neighboring plants. Your spray will not last longer than about a week before spoiling and losing its potency. Do not use it in the final weeks, especially the late flowering stage unless you want your buds to smell and taste like garlic and also just a matter of preventing a rise in humidity which could cause buds to rot.
Try to do this when rain is available after spraying to wash off or give your plants a small shower a few hours later with some clean water!

This works for : 

  • Aphids
  • Ants
  • Beetles
  • Borers
  • Caterpillars
  • Armyworms
  • Slugs
  • Termites
  • Whiteflies

And for safety : Keep in mind that your spray can be very irritant for the eyes so make sure to have some goggles on when using this!

Below is a short example video from one of our growers :

Borage ( cucumberweed )

Borage, or also called cucumberweed, is one of those forgotten plants that can be used in many ways from making tea to eating the beautifully colored flowers and leaves in different recipes ( and as the name suggests, it tastes like cucumber ). In the field of growing crops, it is one of the many plants that can be beneficial for the cannabis grower in a few different ways.
In its natural setting, Borage will attract many pollinators such as bees and also small wasps that can feed on other critters and bugs, it will also act as a deterrent for others. It has another important function in nature and the biochemistry underground because it adds trace minerals to the soil it is planted in. Borage is said to be particularly beneficial in accumulating potassium. 

Just be aware, once Borage has settled in, it is not very easy to get rid of again because of its efficient way of self seeding and reproducing annually.

Nitrogen Fixing

A big part of the plants' health and crucial for a cannabis grower is being able to fix or regulate the Nitrogen levels in the soil. This is because Nitrogen is one of the most valuable chemical elements for a plant. For example, if there is a low level of Nitrogen your plant will appear pale and will have very slow growth. Legume plants are nitrogen-fixing plants, such as peas, beans, and the cabbage family, all working together with the nitrogen-fixing bacteria, also called, rhizobia. Nitrogen coming from in the air slowly diffuses into the ground. The rhizobia bacteria chemically converts that nitrogen to make it available for the plant.

However!
Because of this close relationship between the plant itself, depending on its origin, it will work together with a certain strain of the rhizobia bacteria. In other words, growing one type of nitrogen-fixing plant in a certain area might not always work with the best result because the needed strain of the bacteria is or not present or just not in large enough numbers to produce enough. The right rhizobium strain suitable for a certain type of plant is usually found naturally in the ground where the plant has its origin.

For doing this the right way, it is best to do a little research. For example, a Central-European outdoor grower who wants to use beans as a nitrogen-fixer will have to use a different type of bean than a South-American outdoor grower because of the linked biochemistry the crop and the soil has.

Summary

Even though we have only touched a very small fraction of all the beneficial plants that are out there, one can only hope you find ways for companion planting to help improve your cannabis growing! At the same time, be aware of not getting too fixated on this and do not overdo it. The right amount of space, water, and managing your soil for multiple plants comes with time, experience, and a lot of patience! 

For example here are a few growers going the organic way on our platform, Growdiaries!

If you have any experience or tips about this subject, feel free to drop a line below in the comments section!

References

Companion Planting Guide For Vegetables - Catherine Boeckmann ( 2021 )

Does Growing Basil With Tomatoes Make the Tomatoes Sweeter? - Shelley Hoose ( 2020 )

How to Grow More Vegetables  p. 140-141 -  Jeavons, John. 1995. 

Nitrogen Fixing Bacteria, Rhizobia - Tropical Permaculture

What Are Legumes? - Marie Lannotti ( 2020 )

A Garlic Spray for Garden Pests - Mackenzie Wright ( 2018 )

Garlic As Pest Control: Tips For Controlling Pests With Garlic - Amy Grant ( 2020 )

All About Borage - Kelly Pagliaro ( 2011 )

15 Reasons To Grow Borage + Ways To Use It -  

This article was updated May 2021






Comments

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As a companion grower I use basil, in particular sweet basil. I am currently running a test on my Magnum Autos between purple and sweet basil to see if there is any difference come harvest. A whole article can be written on how basil is one of the best companions to have in your garden and I encourage anybody to try it for themselves. My next auto run will be Cinderella Jack by Dutch Passion and I will be doing a comparison between having basil as a companion vs none at all...stay tuned should be coming in June...Happy Growing and best of all Good Harvesting!!!:facepunch::muscle::ok_hand:

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@JoshuaVanMaele, No Problem!

JoshuaVanMaele
JoshuaVanMaele

@Trumptight420,
Thank you for this info!
Happy growing to you 2!

Mexicogringo
Mexicogringo

Remember that introducing good bugs like ladybugs or praying mantis is good if there are bad bugs for them to eat. If there are no bad critters to eat the good bugs will move on.

Xavierfourtwenty
Xavierfourtwenty

Wow, very helpful information. Thanks for sharing! I'm licensed indoor right now but we're looking into buying some land here soon so there is the possibility that this will be a great deal of help to us :sunglasses::the_horns: