When planting your garden don’t forget about Companion Planting

Many experienced gardeners already know that having a diverse mix of plants helps give you a beautiful and healthy garden.   Some also believe that certain plant combinations have extraordinary (some even believe mysterious) powers for helping each other grow.   Scientific study of companion planting has confirmed that some combinations have real benefits unique to those combinations. And practical experience has demonstrated to many gardeners how to combine certain plants for their mutual benefit.

How can companion plantings help you?

  • Companion plantings bring a variety into the garden by helping to break up the monoculture, this aids in deterring disease and bad bug infestation.
  • It’s a holistic approach to working with the intricate layers of the ecology of your garden.
  • Reduces the need for fertilizers and pesticides. Many vegetables and herbs store natural substances in their roots, flowers and leaves that repel unwanted pests and attract beneficial insects.
  • Enhances the beauty as well as the flavor and overall health of your garden by working in harmony with nature.

How close should the plants be to each other?

This can be confusing to some people. The best way is to take the average spacing between the two varieties.

Ancient Companions

Over the centuries companion planting has been used by various people.  The “Three Sisters” or De-o-ha-ko were used by the Iroquois American Indians in the Northeast. De-o-ha-ko literally means “our sustainers” or “those who support us”. Companion planting has played a vital role in the survival of people throughout history. When companion plantings are used they help one another grow, thrive and produce higher yields efficiently and with little impact on the environment.

The Scientific Foundations Behind Companion Planting

Trap Cropping – one plant will lure bugs and pests away from another plant and serves to distract.

Symbiotic nitrogen fixation – legumes (peas, clover, beans) fix atmospheric nitrogen for their own use and benefit of nearby plants via symbiotic relationship with rhizobium bacteria.

Biochemical pest suppression – certain plants give off chemicals in their roots or aerial parts that suppress or repel pests and protect neighboring plants.

Physical spatial interactions – tall growing plants which love sun sharing space with low growing shade tolerant plants gives higher yields in less space, as well as yielding pest control.

Beneficial Habitats – or refugia is when companion plants provide a desirable environment for beneficial insects and other arthropods, like predatory and parasitic insects which help keep the pest population in balance. Agro-ecologists believe this is a good way to both reduce pest damage and pesticide use.

Security via Diversity – a mixed variety of plants, herbs and vegetables helps limit the possible destruction that can be caused to a single crop or cultivar. Simply mixing cultivars will achieve the diversity needed as the University of California demonstrated with broccoli.

Carrots and marigolds

Condensed Companion Planting Guide

Basil

  • Improves flavor and growth of tomatoes.
  • Aromatic foliage helps repel aphids, flies, mosquitoes and tomato hornworms while attracting beneficial insects and bees.
  • Vast variety of basils to choose from Sweet Italian, African Blue Basil, Thai Basil. Greek Columnar Basil…
Basil
Borage

Borage

  • Edible flowers add a mild cucumber flavor to salads
  • Attracts beneficials
  • Great with strawberry plants
  • Deters tomato hornworms
  • Improves growth and flavor of squash

Dill

  • Good companion to cabbage family but not with carrots
  • Good with Brassicas
  • Improves health & growth of cabbage
  • Attracts beneficial wasps that control cabbage pests
  • Good with lettuce and onion
  • Trap crop for tomato hornworms

Marigolds (Tagetes species)

  • Plant all over
  • Deter root eating nematodes, Mexican Bean Beetles and many more insects
  • Good companions to bush beans, lettuce potatoes, kale, Chinese cabbage, tomatoes and root vegetables
  • The cultivar T. Erecta is an African marigold and T. Patula is the French marigold

Mint

  • Invasive so bury in a pot in the ground halfway up
  • Improves the health and flavor of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and tomatoes
  • The flowers attract beneficials
  • Spearmint and peppermint repel aphids, flea beetles, and white cabbage moths

Nasturtiums

  • Edible flowers
  • Deters striped pumpkin beetles and other cabbage pests
  • Repels squash bugs
  • Trap crop for aphids
  • Companions to Brassicas and Cucurbits
  • Improving their growth and flavor
Nasturtium

Onion Family

  • Excellent companions
  • Promote the health of other plants
  • Chives have edible flowers and leaves – great with carrots and tomatoes
  • Onions companions to the carrot family, brassicas, gooseneck family, and nightshade family
  • Deter Japanese beetles, aphids, weevils, fruit tree borers and spider mites
  • Good insectary plants that attracts predatory insects that feed on pest insects

Oregano

  • Natural pesticide for a variety of vegetable invaders
  • Perfect to pair up with any vegetable
  • Deters many insects, especially squash borer flea beetles
  • Especially good companion to Brassicas and Cucurbits
  • Its flowers attracts butterflies, bumble bees and mud dauber wasps that feed on caterpillars
Oregano

Radish

  • Good with Brassicas, cabbage family, carrot family, legumes, goosefoot family
  • They repel cucumber beetles and squash bugs
  • Deters flea beetles
  • Many varieties

Sunflowers

  • Companion to many vegetables especially shorter, shade-loving varieties;
  • Sunflowers help support vines
  • Attract birds and beneficial pollinators to the garden
  • Good companion to cucumbers and deters armyworm when planted with corn
  • Many varieties

Not Everyone Plays Well Together in the Garden

As much as there are plants that are compatible together, there are some that are just as incompatible together as well. It’s equally important to understand which plants don’t work well together in the garden. Sometimes when these vegetables are couples together you may find that growth was stunted or harvests just generally less prolific.

CropFoes/Incompatibles
 Asparagus garlic, onions, potatoes
Basil rue, sage
 Beans (alliums) garlic, onions
 Beets pole beans
Cabbage Family (broccoli, Brussels sprouts,
kale, kohlrabi, cauliflower, cabbage)
 tomatoes, strawberries, pole beans, peppers, eggplants, grapes, lettuce
 Carrots dill, parsnips, Queen Ann’s lace
 Celery corn, potatoes, aster
Chards cucurbits, melons, corn or herbs
Chives beans and peas
 Corn tomatoes
Cucumber cauliflower, potatoes, basil, sage, rue
 Lettuce cabbage, parsley
Marigolds, French Beans, cabbage
 Onion peas, asparagus
 Peas chives, potatoes, onions, gladiolus, grapes
 Pepper, sweet bell fennel, kohlrabi, apricot trees
 Potato Asparus, kohlrabi, rutabage, fennel, turnip, pumpkin, squash, tomatoes, sunflowers, cucumbers
 Radish hyssop, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, turnips
 Squash potatoes
Strawberry Cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kohlrabi
 Tomato dill, fennel, apricot trees, potatoes, kohlrabi, corn
 Turnip potatoes, radishes or other root vegetables, delphinium, larkspur, mustard

One Comment on “When planting your garden don’t forget about Companion Planting

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