The other day a friend observed that I had no blackfly on my broad beans. I hadn’t really clocked it until he mentioned it, but this is the first year that that’s happened. I was a little intrigued, and could only think that perhaps it was because I’d planted a few tagetes in amongst the broad beans.
I decided to have a look online to see if tagetes are commonly used as a companion plant to deter blackfly – I already knew that they are said to deter whitefly from the Rocket Gardens growing guide, but I wondered if there was more to them than this. Unsurprisingly I found that tagetes attract lacewing and ladybirds, which feed on blackfly and other aphids, so it is quite possible that this has helped to keep blackfly at bay in my plot this year.
More surprisingly, I came across an article written by Sarah Raven several years ago, which explains that a specific variety of tagetes is commonly used to combat persistent weeds including ground elder and bindweed. I’m a little flabbergasted – how on earth can that be true? Further research suggests that the roots of Tagetes Minuta (which is not the same variety as sold by Rocket Gardens, but I’m going to put in a good word for them and hopefully they might start growing them for us to enjoy next year!) excrete a chemical into the soil that repels ground elder and bindweed. Many gardeners use this to clear patches of these invasive weeds. I am so keen to give this a go – whilst bindweed looks very pretty when it is flowering, it’s not ideal to have it climbing up the bamboo canes alongside my beans, or worse, snaking its way up my sweetcorn plants. Watch this space – let’s see if I can persuade Rocket Gardens to start growing these weed-busting plants!