A lot has been written about certain types of vegetables grown with other vegetables and certain herbs planted in between vegetables, to ward off pests. These types of plantings are called companion plants.

Interest in growing fruit trees is now becoming widespread, and people are experimenting by growing trees in different climates, soils and positions.

Our orchard in Julatten is constantly tended and a watch kept for bugs and other problems with the trees. One of the problems we have encountered is the growing of avocados. Our soil is mostly clay. We planted avocados time and time again and they would up and die. We had tried mounding them, but still they would die from phytophthora (a root fungus).

It was not until after so many unsuccessful attempts, (we had given up), that I heard on the radio about a farmer in NSW who had a banana plantation and decided to grow some avocados as an extra income. He planted the avocados amongst his bananas and they grew like mad. He decided to cut out the bananas because the avocado trees were doing so well. It was not until later that he found the avocados dying. He had retained a couple of avocado trees amongst the bananas, and came to the conclusion that the bananas and avocados did well together.

We decided to plant bananas between our newly-purchased grafted avocados. Don bought in some sandy loam (by bringing in soil from different areas also helps with mineral nutrients), and made some mounds; then planted out the avocados with bananas beside them. These two plants must be good companion trees as the avocados have no sign of phytophthora and are green and lush, while other avocado seedling trees around the garden are showing signs of dying.

Don has decided to plant bananas beside other trees on the six acres. Not only will they give good companionship but also fruit and shade to the young trees, in the heat of the day. The bananas will be given some chemical fertilizer, and mulch will be made from the cut-up trunks and leaves of the bananas, thus keeping down the weeds, and providing good organic material for the earth worms which will, in turn, improve the soil further.

A lovely friendly cycle goes on in our garden...there are even butterflies.

Christine Gray

DATE: July 1984

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