In organic gardening, a trap crop is used to lure pest bugs away from your cash crop, or edible vegetables. For instance, nasturtiums attract aphids, keeping those aphids from doing damage to beans and spinach. We use trap crops sometimes, here, but we haven’t had heavy pest loads, and are therefore reluctant to use the space for planted trap crops, when the hedges and fields nearby seen to host sufficient predators to keep our garden pests mostly under control.
However, our garden is in one corner of a farmer’s field. A conventional farmer, who periodically sprays fertilizer and Roundup and who-knows-what else. Stuff I am pretty sure I don’t want on my beans and potatoes. Stuff I don’t want to eat or to feed to Baby M.
So we make space at the edge of the garden for a double row of sunflowers. Black oil sunflowers, that grow really tall, really fast. They’re cheap – I bought a five-pound bag of them, labeled as bird seed, and planted them; they grow just fine. And, should the farmer decide to spray on a day that is not perfectly calm, those cheap sunflowers will ‘trap’ the nasty gunk, and keep my carrots more-or-less organic. Plus, they attract all sorts of good bugs and birds into my garden, helping keep the pests down. They add a cheerful, pretty note to the garden, too!
I spent my morning planting sunflowers, in case anyone was wondering!