Editor's note: This article was written by members of the Garden Club of New Milford.

Companion planting is the combining of plants for the betterment of surrounding plants.

Good combination plantings benefit the relationship between plants, trees and insects to enhance soil, control pests, attract pollinators, encourage growth, increase the flavor of edibles and maximize garden space.

Plants as natural insect repellents

Since less than 1 percent of insects are garden pests, it's a good idea to know which insects are your friends.

It is possible to attract beneficial insects by planting specific flowers near the vegetable garden and specific vegetables near the flower garden.

Try to plant nasturtiums to deter harmful aphids; dill, parsley, carrot, coriander, angelica and parsnip to attract large numbers of beneficial insects, particularly predatory wasps and flies; marigolds, chives, onions, parsley, basil and other flowers throughout the garden; and strong-smelling herbs among vegetable crops.

Allow parsley, carrot and celery to remain in the ground over the winter to produce flowers the second season that attract beneficial insects.

Companion planting suggestions

According to folklore, effective companions for pest control suggest the planting of chives at the base of roses to repel aphids; garlic at the base of peach trees to repel borers and basil among tomatoes to repel tomato hornworms.

Also, nasturtiums near squash and cucumbers to repel squash bugs; tomatoes among asparagus to repel asparagus beetles; marigolds, mint, thyme, or chamomile to repel cabbage moths; radishes to trap cucumber beetles among squash and cucumbers; low-growing thyme or lavender in garden borders to deter slugs; and tansy and pennyroyal to repel ants.

Note, there are exceptions.

White garlic and onions repel pests and are good for most plants except beans and peas, because the onions stunt their growth.

History of companion planting

Companion planting is not new.

These principles were used centuries ago in cottage gardens in England and home gardens in Asia.

Thousands of years ago, Native Americans planted corn, beans and squash together on a hill to provide food for a balanced diet from a single plot of land.

Named the Three Sisters, each crop of corn, beans and squash is compatible with the others in some way.

Cornstalks serve as a trellis for beans to climb, beans fix the nitrogen, which benefits the maize and the squash provides dense ground cover to shade out many weeds.

The Three Sisters concept works today, as well.

Tall plants provide shade for sun-sensitive shorter plants, vines cover the ground and uprights to rise and work well together in one patch.

Home gardeners can use naturalists' discoveries to their gardens' advantage.

Shade-tolerant plants often grow better under the trees than away from them.

Certain garden plants grow better if provided with some shade, while others need to be elevated on a trellis to capture sunlight.

Leaf lettuce grows well in the shade provided by taller crops.

Although companion planting among trees is a topic for another article, know that rhododendrons and azaleas thrive under pine trees.

Believe it or not

The benefits of companion planting extend to good nutrition.

Eat the beet greens along with the beets and you will increase the nutritional benefit to your body.

The detriment of good deeds often is punished.

If you don't sweep up the seed shells you put out in your bird feeder and the birds hulled, you may stop your nearby plants from germinating.

Instead, sweep up the hulls and put them under the mulch to keep new weeds from germinating.