Have you ever tried companion planting in your vegetable garden? See how your garden can greatly benefit by growing the right combination of plants.
When growing a vegetable garden, it’s not always about which plants you grow. Being strategic about where you grow your plants and which ones you grow together can reward you with better growth and reduced pests.
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Table of Contents
What is Companion Planting?
Companion planting is the practice of growing different crops near each other for mutual benefit and keeping others separated so that they all thrive.
The Three Sisters Planting Method
The Three Sisters method of companion planting is a well-known example. It has been widely used by Native American farming societies.
- Corn stalks support pole beans.
- Pole beans stabilize the corn and enrich the soil.
- Squash shades the soil helps to prevent moisture from evaporating from the surface, and deters weeds.
Benefits of Companion Planting
There are so many benefits to planting specific crops together:
Deterring Pests and Repelling Insects
Many plants are natural insect repellents or deter critters. Two vegetables that are grown side by side can reduce pest infestation.
- Basil repels insect pests such as thrips. If you plant basil next to your tomatoes in the garden, many say that you should have fewer egg-laying armyworms.
- Cucumbers can keep raccoons away because they dislike the smell.
- Grow flowers in your vegetable garden such as sunflowers, zinnias, calendula or cosmos to repel pests.
- Garlic has a strong odor that deters many insects such as aphids, onion flies, and Japanese beetles. Plant between potatoes, near fruit trees, and next to lettuce and cabbage.
- Marigolds have a strong fragrance and will keep deer from feeding on plants such as tomatoes.
- Mint deters aphids and ants, but can be highly invasive and should be planted in their own pot or container.
- Nasturtium is often used to attract aphids, caterpillars, and blackflies away from other plants.
- Sage repels carrot flies and can help deter cabbage moths.
Attract Pollinators and Beneficial Insects
Growing nectar-rich flowers among crops will attract pollinators and beneficial insects to the garden. This will help to boost the pollination of flowering crop plants like tomatoes, beans, and squash.
- Basil and Borage partner well with tomatoes, attracting pollinating bees.
- Dill attracts beneficial ladybugs, which eat aphids and spider mites, and is a food source for caterpillars and butterflies.
- Parsley attracts beneficial insects to protect and pollinate tomatoes.
- Grow flowers in your vegetable garden such as sunflowers, zinnias, calendula or cosmos to attract beneficial insects.
Improved Plant Health
The soil biochemistry can positively change when one plant absorbs certain substances from the soil. This benefits the other plants nearby.
Tall plants such as corn and sunflowers provide shade for smaller plants. This protection can benefit plants such as lettuce, spinach, and Swiss chard that need relief from the hot summer sun.
Bush beans tolerate the shade from corn. Their roots don’t compete for water and nutrients at their level in the soil.
Improved Soil Fertility
Some crops, such as beans, peas, and other legumes, help to improve the nutrient supply and uptake from the soil.
Tall plants, such as corn and sunflowers, can support sprawling and lower-growing crops needing trellising like cucumbers and peas.
Companion planting can help suppress weeds if done the right way. Interplanting different crops can help mark garden rows. It also distinguishes fast-germinating plants from slower-germinating plants.
Companion Planting Mistakes to Avoid
Certain neighboring plants can actually cause harm rather than benefit them.
Any crops that are similar to one another should not be planted next to each other.
These similarities can include:
- Nutrient needs
- Above-ground growth
- Root systems
- Water needs
- Sunlight needs
- Space needs
- Susceptible to the same diseases and pests
Some crops can inhibit the growth of other plants.
NOTE: Fennel is a poor companion plant that should be planted in the garden far away from all other crops.
Common Vegetables Companion Planting Chart
Here are some of the most common garden crops and the best companion plants so your garden will benefit from them.
|Plant||Companions||Keep away from||Notes|
|Asparagus||Asters, Basil, Cilantro, Marigolds, Nasturtiums, Oregano,|
Parsley, Peppers, Sage, Thyme, Tomatoes
|Onion, Garlic, Potatoes||Repels flies, mosquitoes, and thrips. Improves flavor in tomatoes.|
|Basil||Asparagus, Oregano, Peppers, Tomatoes||Sage||Repels flies, mosquitoes, thrips. Improves flavor in tomatoes.|
|Beans||Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Corn, Cucumber, Marigolds, Nasturtiums, Rosemary, Sunflowers||Chives, Leeks, Garlic||Improves nitrogen deficiency in the soil.|
|Beets||Bush beans, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Corn, Garlic, Leeks, Lettuce, Mint, Onion, Sage,||Pole beans ||Beet leaves add minerals to the garden’s soil and are composed of 25% magnesium.|
|Broccoli||Celery, Dill, Onion, Oregano, Potatoes, Rosemary, Hyssop||Strawberries, Tomatoes|
|Cabbage||Beets, Celery, Chamomile, Garlic, Nasturtiums, Onion, Potatoes, Sage||Eggplant, Strawberries, Tomatoes|
|Carrots||Beans, Chives, Leeks, Lettuce, Onion, Peas, Rosemary, Sage, Tomatoes||Chives, Dill, Parsnip||To prevent cross-pollination, don’t plant any members of the carrot family|
|Corn||Beans, Cucumber, Dill, Peas, Potato, Pumpkin, Spinach, Sunflowers||Tomatoes|
|Cucumber||Celery, Dill, Lettuce, Nasturtium, Oregano, Pea, Radishes||Basil, Cauliflower, Potatoes|
|Garlic||Beets, Carrots, Cole crops, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Lettuce, Peppers, Potatoes, Tomatoes|
|Lettuce||Basil, Beets, Carrots, Chives, Garlic, Onions, Radishes, Strawberries||Beans, Parsley|
|Melon||Broccoli, Corn, Garlic, Radishes|
|Onions||Broccoli, Cabbage, Lettuce, Marigolds, Tomatoes||Beans, Peas|
|Peas||Alyssum, Beans, Carrots, Chives, Corn, Cucumbers, Mint||Garlic, Onions|
|Peppers||Basil, Beans, Carrots, Catmint, Cilantro, Marjoram, Oregano, Parsley, Tomatoes||Fennel|
|Potatoes||Beans, Cabbage, Catmint, Cilantro, Corn, Eggplant, Lettuce, Peas, Radishes, Spinach||Cucumber, Pumpkin, Sunflower||often used as trap crops for flea beetles.|
|Radishes||Beans, Beets, Carrots, Nasturtiums, Peas, Spinach||Cabbage, Cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts|
|Calendula, Corn, Oregano, Nasturtiums, Squash||Potatoes|
|Spinach||Beans, Brassicas, Cilantro, Eggplants, Leeks, Lettuce, Oregano, Peas, Radishes, Rosemary, Strawberries|| Parsnips, Potatoes|
|Tomatoes||Asparagus, Basil, Beans, Bee Balm, Borage, Calendula, Carrots, Celery, Chives, Cucumbers, Dill, Garlic, Lettuce, Marigolds, Mint, Nasturtium, Onion, Parsley, Peppers, Squash, Thyme||Brassicas, Corn, Dill, Fennel, Potatoes||Potatoes spread blight to tomatoes. Corn attracts bad pests|
|Zucchini||Beans, Corn, Nasturtium, Oregano, Peas, Radishes, Zinnias|
Companion Planting with Herbs
Many herbs offer a number of benefits to the garden. They not only repel and trap pests but also attract pollinators and other beneficial insects to plants.
Plant some of these most beneficial herbs in the garden. You will be rewarded as a result.
I hope you have found some companion planting ideas of your own. Your garden is sure to reap the benefits this year. You’ll not only be surprised by how your plants will benefit from this type of gardening but how they will protect each other from pests.
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Until next time,