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Expert gardener explains secret for growing stronger, pest-resistant tomato plants: 'My tomato plants grow so vigorously'

"They are one of the most versatile trap plants you can put in your garden."

“They are one of the most versatile trap plants you can put in your garden.”

Photo Credit: TikTok

When growing tomatoes, bugs are the enemy — but one experienced gardener just showed the internet an all-natural (and delicious) way to keep your crop safe until the harvest.

The scoop

TikToker TheZenHenandTheHoneyBee (@thezenhenandthehoneybee) shared a quick rundown of the companion plants she uses on her tomatoes in a recent video.

@thezenhenandthehoneybee Let me know if you want this to be a series! Trying to figure out you want to learn to companion plant. #growingtomatoes #tomatoes #companionplanting #growingbasil #nasturtiums #trapplants #growyourownfood #growfood #gardening #organicgardening #naturalpestcontrol ♬ original sound - TheZenHenandTheHoneyBee

Companion planting — planting multiple selected species close together so they can support one another — is an age-old gardening technique that helps increase yields and protects the garden. The most famous example is the Three Sisters (squash, corn, and climbing beans) traditionally planted together by the Indigenous peoples of North and Central America; the cornstalk provides a natural trellis for the beans, the beans help add nutrients to the soil for the other plants, and the broad squash leaves shade the ground to prevent weeds and conserve water.

Plenty of other combinations are possible to benefit the plants in your garden, and the Zen Hen shares a few. "You want to learn how to companion plant, but you don't know where to start? I'm going to show you a very practical, easy way to learn," she says.

She then takes viewers on a video tour of her garden beds, which are designed around her tomatoes.

Tomatoes are vulnerable to pests, but luckily, there are other plants they love even more. "Nasturtiums," says the Zen Hen. "They are one of the most versatile trap plants you can put in your garden."

"Trap plants" are plants that attract pests — keeping them off other crops. The nasturtiums don't suffer too badly from the attention, and the tomatoes are left alone to thrive. The Zen Hen does the same with huckleberries, which she says work well as trap plants for anything in the nightshade family, like tomatoes or potatoes.

"Probably the most well-known companion plant for tomatoes is basil," the Zen Hen continues. "It's because basil is particularly good at repelling the pests that love to eat tomato. So I plant the basil down the center with the tomatoes on the outside of the basil, and on the outside of the tomatoes, onions. Onions are fantastic at repelling insects."

She finishes by filling in the open spaces with another pest deterrent: radishes.

Why it's great

Companion planting is all-natural, healthy, pesticide-free, zero-effort pest control for your garden. Plus, you get to eat almost all of the great plants you use — and it's rare to find a more winning flavor combo than tomato, basil, and onion.

That's on top of all the general benefits of gardening, like spending less at the grocery store, boosting your physical health by getting more vitamins and fiber in your diet, and improving mental health with regular time outdoors and exercise.

What everyone's saying

Commenters agreed that this hack was life-changing. "I've tried this," said one user. "My tomato plants grow so vigorously that they shadow every other plant near it, and wouldn't allow sun to get to them."

"Marigolds are the best companion plants," said another commenter.

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