Have you ever considered growing flowers in your vegetable garden? Growing flowers, especially the marigold, in your vegetable garden will make it beautiful and help increase plant and wildlife diversity. In addition, it will increase your garden’s resilience, protect the soil, and keep it growing strong.

No annual plant is more cheerful or easier to grow than the marigold. I love how they pop with colour from late spring until autumn. Together with nasturtiums they are a must-have in every vegetable garden. But why choose to grow marigolds?

Marigolds are easy to grow

Sow marigolds in full sun and they will shine. They can be planted in late spring, just after the last frost. I usually plant mine around mid-September and again in summer. Sow seeds approximately 5cm apart and 1cm deep. They will sprout within a week and their germination rate is good. Dwarf varieties can be spaced 20cm apart and very tall varieties 30cm apart. They should flower after approximately eight weeks.

Excellent companions for most vegetables

Marigolds are fantastic companions for most vegetables. I never grow my tomatoes, beans, okra, spinach and squash without marigolds alongside them. Their pungent smell wards off most pests. Moreover, both African (Tagetes erecta) and French marigolds (Tagetes patula) produce alpha-terthienyl, a substance that suppresses nematodes, which are microscopic worms that attack the roots of plants. Furthermore, they also attract bees, ladybirds and butterflies that not only pollinate plants, but also help control pests.

Marigolds are hardy flowers

Hardiness is one of the reasons why I love these flowers so much. In my book, a sign of a good flower is one that does not require meticulous watering and care. You will only need to water them if the weather has been very dry for more than a week. Remember to water at the plant’s base and not from overhead, because excess water can lead to powdery mildew.

Marigolds are incredibly rewarding

You only need to plant marigolds once in your garden and you will have them for life. They will readily self-seed throughout your vegetable garden and pop up generously year after year.

Properties of marigolds

  • Indigenous: Look out for the African marigold.
  • Evergreen: No.
  • Frost tolerant: No.
  • Great companion plant: Yes.
  • Drought resistant: Yes.
  • Edible: Yes. – Manti Maifadi, Naledi Farm

For more information on Naledi Farms or for advice on growing vegetables at home, contact Manti on 082 800 2327 or email bookings@naledifarm.co.za.