Sneaky Gardeners: The Trap Crop


This year, I’m enjoying “my” new garden very much. It’s a garden up the street from our house, and it belongs to someone else. I just get the pleasure of growing vegetables in it this year.

A few years ago, I inadvertently discovered the idea of a trap crop. What is a trap crop? You’re probably familiar with the idea of companion planting. Companion planting is all about planting crops that work well with each other. Carrots loosen the soil for other plants. Many herbs attract beneficial insects that help pollinate other plants or eat other insects that will eat your plants.

The idea of a trap crop is simple. You probably don’t want certain insects like aphids in your garden. The problem is that they would really like to be there. You find them irritating because they eat your vegetables. They find your vegetables delicious. There has to be some middle ground somewhere, and that’s the idea of a trap crop.

Instead of spraying the aphids and damaging the beneficial insects as well, you plant a crop that the aphids or other undesirable bug finds just too delicious for words. By planting this crop, you put out a welcome sign in your garden. If you had aphids before, they may just move over to the trap crop to have a feast.

Several years ago I planted fava beans. What I didn’t realize was that these sprawling beans will joyfully take over the garden, producing just a few beans in return. However, that year my other garden plants were aphid free. Where were the aphids? On the favas, of course.

This year I’m planting patches of fava beans in the rest of my vegetables, hoping for a similar result. We’ll see if my intentional sneakiness works as well as the unintentional variety!

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