Companion planting is the practice of inter-planting different plant species to reduce pest problems or improve plant growth.
Companion Vegetable Garden
It’s said that vegetables are like people, they thrive on companionship. It is believed that vegetables will yield up to twice as much when they are surrounded with companion plants. So in this article we will discuss the top 12 vegetables and their best friends.
If you’re getting ready to plant your vegetable garden you may want to try placing the various vegetable crops so you can take advantage of their natural friends. If you have already planted your vegetable garden you may want to make some changes in subsequent plantings later this summer.
The following are a list of the top 12 vegetables and their ideal planting companions.
Beans–they like celery and cucumbers but dislike onions and fennel.
Beets–Bush beans, lettuce, onions, kohlrabi, and most members of the cabbage family are companion plants. Keep the pole beans and mustard away from them.
Cabbage–Celery, dill, onions and potatoes are good companion plants They dislike strawberries, tomatoes, and pole beans.
Carrots–Leaf lettuce, radish, onions and tomatoes are their friends, Plant dill at the opposite end of the garden.
Corn–Pumpkins, peas, beans, cucumbers and potatoes are nice companion plants, Keep the tomatoes away from them.
Cucumbers–They like corn, peas, radishes, beans and sunflowers. Cucumbers dislike aromatic herbs and potatoes so keep them away.
Lettuce–It grows especially well with onions. Strawberries carrots, radishes and cucumbers also are friends and good companion plants.
Onions–Plant them near lettuce, beets, strawberries and tomatoes but keep them away from peas and beans.
Peas–Carrots, cucumbers, corn, turnips and radishes plus beans, potatoes and aromatic herbs are their friends. Keep the peas away from onions, garlic, leek, and shallots.
Radishes–This is one vegetable that has a lot of friends, they are excellent companion plants with beets, carrots, spinach and parsnips. Radishes grow well with cucumbers and beans. It’s said that summer planting near leaf lettuce makes the radishes more tender. Avoid planting radishes near cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, broccoli, kohlrabi or turnips.
Squash–Icicle radishes, cucumbers and corn are among their friends.
Tomatoes–Carrots, onions and parsley are good companion plants. Keep the cabbage and cauliflower away from them.
Sometimes plant friendships are one-sided. Carrots are said to help beans, but beans don’t reciprocate. Though beans will help nearby cucumbers.
Other plants have bad companions and you’ll be doing them a favor to keep them apart. Beans and onions are natural enemies so keep them at opposite sides of the garden.
If you have a patio you might try mint to repel ants, and basil to keep the flies and mosquitoes away. Both herbs have pretty flowers and are fragrant too. Besides, they’re nice to harvest and use in the kitchen. In her book, “Carrots Love Tomatoes” Louise Riotte, says getting to know good and bad companions can double the bounty of your garden. The only required work is to plan your garden planting properly.
“Carrots Love Tomatoes”, Garden Way is an informative, well-illustrated guide to the subject of companion planting. The book recently reprinted was originally published under the title “Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening”.
If you would like more information on the various plants to use for companion planting and natural insect and disease control, you’ll find “Carrots Love Tomatoes” is available in bookstores that carry the Garden Way books.
Plants that Help Broccoli Grow Better
- Celery, potatoes, and onions improve the flavor of broccoli when planted nearby.
- Aromatic herbs, such as rosemary, sage, dill, and mint, help broccoli by repelling insect pests.
- Plants that require little calcium, such as beets, nasturtiums, and marigolds are good companions because they grow happily with broccoli–a notorious calcium-hog.
Plants Helped by Broccoli:
It’s a great idea to inter-plant broccoli with plants that don’t need a ton of room and enjoy some shade in late spring and early summer. Some ideas include loose leaf lettuce, spinach, and radishes.
Plants to Avoid Planting Near Broccoli:
Tomatoes, pole beans, and strawberries are all said to negatively affect the growth and flavor of broccoli.
Companion Plants for Spinach
Spinach tastes best when the leaves are young. It is a good idea to plant a row of spinach every two to three weeks, starting in early spring, until early summer. You can resume this schedule of planting again in early fall. Spinach grows well with beans, cabbage, celery, onions and peas. It is not happy when growing near potatoes. During the summer, you can grow cucumbers, summer squash, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and other warm-season crops.
Plant strawberries with vegetables to make use of space and enrich the soil.
If you only have a small area to work with, companion planting will allow you to squeeze more types of plants into your vegetable and fruit garden. Plant your strawberry plants at least 15 inches apart and the rows 3 to 4 feet apart, but make the most of the empty space between plants and rows with companion vegetables and herbs. Vegetables planted with strawberries will mask the foliage and the fruit’s aroma, protecting the strawberries from potential pests. Companion plants also will add essential nutrients to the soil.
Borage is an herb that has a slight cucumber taste. It can be added as a green to salads or as flavor to soups and other dishes. It is also the “O blood type” of the companion planting world, compatible with almost any crop, including strawberries. Borage will improve soil richness by adding trace minerals, such as calcium and potassium, to your garden medium. It also attracts beneficial insects like pollinators and predatory wasps that will keep pests away. Borage will provide visual appeal to your garden as it flowers with blue, star-shaped blossoms.
Sage is another herb that may be planted with strawberries. It will attract bees, which are important pollinators, to your garden. It will also provide a pleasing aroma and visual appeal with its oblong-shaped leaves and blue, pink or white flowers. You can harvest sage leaves and use them to flavor poultry, meat and vegetable dishes.
You can plant vertical plants that climb up trellises and poles, such as certain varieties of peas and beans, alongside strawberry plants. Strawberries grow along horizontal runners, thus pea and bean climbers can take advantage of open vertical space in your garden. Peas and beans also add nitrogen to the soil.
Onions are also compatible with strawberry plants. They keep away the insect pests that tend to destroy strawberries, including aphids, weevils, spiders and nematodes. If you choose to plant onions with your strawberries, unfortunately beans and peas will not prosper.You can harvest both the greens and roots of onion plants.
Lettuce and spinach work well with strawberries in a companion garden. Oregon Live.com recommends establishing strawberry plants first and then filling the empty spaces with lettuce, spinach and onions. You can create a zigzag pattern with your strawberry plants amongst greens; create rows of interspersed greens and onions separated by rows of strawberries, or create a row of greens, a row of strawberries in the middle, followed by a row of onions.
Marigolds provide a fiery presence to the produce garden.
For a flower companion for strawberries, consider planting marigolds. They deter nematodes but also provide a visual splendor of orange, yellow or red blossoms. Marigolds also have a distinctive aroma that is pleasing to any gardener.
Perfect companions for tomatoes
Carrots work well with tomatoes because they share space well. The carrots can be planted when the tomatoes are still quite small, and can be happily growing and ready to harvest by the time the tomato plants start to take over the space.
Chives, Onions, and Garlic:
Members of the onion family are beneficial to plant with many types of crops due to the pungent odor they emit. This helps deter many insect pests.
Borage helps deter tomato hornworm.
Asparagus and tomatoes are good neighbors. Asparagus puts on growth very early in the season, and the tomato plants fill in after asparagus has been harvested. Also, tomatoes help repel asparagus beetle.
Marigolds help deter harmful nematodes from attacking tomatoes. The pungent odor can also help confuse other insect pests. To deter nematodes, the best practice is to grow the marigolds, then chop and till them into the soil at the end of the season.
Nasturtiums help deter whitefly and aphids.
Growing tomatoes and basil together increases the vigor and flavor of both crops.
Spinach, Lettuce, Arugula:
These are also “good neighbor” crops for tomatoes. They stay fairly small, and will grow better in the heat of summer when shaded by the growing tomato plants.
What Not to Plant with Tomatoes:
The following crops should not be planted with tomatoes:
• Brassicas: Tomatoes and all members of the brassicas family repel each other and will exhibit poor growth when planted together.
• Corn: Tomato fruit worm and corn ear worm are nearly identical, and planting these two crops together increases the possibility that you will attract one (or both) of these pests.
• Fennel: Fennel inhibits the growth of tomatoes.
• Kohlrabi: Kohlrabi inhibits the growth of tomatoes.
Potatoes: Planting tomatoes and potatoes together makes potatoes more susceptible to potato blight.
Companion Plants for Blueberries
Although widely planted as a food crop, blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum) also have aesthetic value as a landscape plant. Their shiny, deep green leaves and dark berries contribute to the summer landscape and their leaves turn an intense shade of scarlet in autumn. During winter, their delicate, upright branches break the monotony of a drab winter landscape. Use them in mixed shrub borders planted alongside other acid-loving shrubs for an unusual mixture of evergreens, spring-flowering shrubs, and summer berries.
Well known to thrive in acidic soil, rhododendrons (Rhododendrons spp.) are one of the first plants to bloom in spring. Their delicate blossoms cover the shrubs before their leaves open. Rhododendrons are best interplanted with blueberries used primarily for ornamental value in the landscape, where their flowers will be protected from the late afternoon sun, which can cause them to wilt prematurely.
Heaths & Heathers
Growing wild in the acidic soil of marshes, heath and the related but often-confused-for-it heather are low-growing evergreens. In Britain, the plant commonly called “heath” (Erica carnea) is actually “heather” (Calluna vulgaris). Heaths and heathers make ideal border plants for a landscape bed that includes blueberries. They bloom in late autumn and winter when the garden is barren. Heaths and heathers thrive in the acidic, well-drained soil needed to grow blueberries.
Growing 7 to 14 feet high, mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) is an evergreen shrub often found growing alongside rhododendrons. Planted among blueberries, it will add winter interest to the landscape with its reddish bark and gnarled, twisted branches. Mountain laurel grows best in a cool location with a deep mulch to keep its roots cool. Its white or reddish flowers bloom in spring. Its round, brown fruits, which break apart into five valves as it dries, are popular in crafts and dried flower arrangements.
A native alpine shrub, deerbrush (Ceanothus velutinus) grows 3 to 9 feet high, depending on growing conditions. Its showy white flowers bloom from May through July. The entire plant exudes a strong balsam-like or cinnamon-like scent. Deerbrush must be grown in full sun in well-drained soil that is neutral to slightly acidic, and will tolerate well the acidic soil levels needed to grow blueberries. The leaves of deerbrush contain saponin and were used by Native Americans to make soaps and cleaners.