Every year, there are garden favorites that we plant religiously. Just as consistently, the same pests come, causing damage and carrying disease. What if there was a way to lure those pests away from your garden faves?
There is. It’s called trap cropping.
Trap cropping refers to the purposeful planting of crops known to attract or repel specific pests within and around the crops you are trying to protect. This distraction reduces the damage done by pests. In some cases, the attractant trap crop can interfere with the pest’s lifecycle, or kill it outright. In other cases, as pests start feeding on the trap crop, you harvest it, breaking the lifecycle of specific pests.
Trap cropping is a form of companion planting (better known as intercropping). While mint, garlic, nasturtium, and fennel have often been touted as cure-alls for many pest problems, the science behind trap cropping is still relatively new and I was unable to find enough research geared specifically toward those plants.
Fear not, however, as there is plenty of good information you can use to protect your garden plants!
How trap cropping works
Trap crops distract pests away from food crops. By providing a rich food source for these pests, they are less likely to damage your food crops. Also, heavy pest infestations attract beneficial predators, such as lacewings and lady beetles. Once an infestation occurs, the trap crop can be fed to your chickens, tilled under, or composted. In commercial fields, pests attracted to trap crops are killed off with pesticides or vacuumed off the plants and destroyed.
Types of trap cropping
There are several types of trap cropping:
Very often, trap cropping methods are used in combination, improving their effectiveness. These methods reduce the need for chemical pesticides, while increasing biodiversity.
Which crops have the biggest pest problems in your garden? And how can you use trap cropping to protect them? Let us know in the Comments!
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!