Companion planting is one of easiest and most natural ways to set your vegetable garden up for success.
There are many things that go into a successful garden, like good soil, proper sunlight, and timely watering. But one that is often overlooked is practicing the simple basics of companion planting.
The Good Of Companion Planting
What you place where in the garden can have a huge impact on another plant’s health and yields. When vegetable plants are grown near plants they are compatible with, good things occur.
Some plants benefit from the nutrients provided to the soil from their companion partner plants. Others benefit because their companion plants help deter and drive away pests.
In addition, companion plants can also provide support or shade for a fellow variety grown in close proximity. Take for instance, growing lettuce mix underneath tomato plants in mid-summer.
The tomato plants helps in providing shade for the lettuce during the heat of summer. Meanwhile, the lettuce crop acts as a living mulch. Not only conserving moisture in the soil for the tomato plants, but helping keep weeds out too.
The Non-Compatible Side Of Companion Planting
Unfortunately, certain plants can also have a negative effect on others when planted nearby. And it can certainly spell big trouble for their well-being and productivity.
What kind of trouble? Well, for starters, some can stunt the root and foliage growth of other vegetable plants when growing nearby.
Other plants, meanwhile, can attract unwanted pests to a nearby plant that can severely limit harvests.
Good Companion Planting Basics
So where you do you start when it comes to companion planting basics? It all starts with taking stock of everything you will be growing.
Next, you need to arm yourself with a bit of planting knowledge of what plants do best near others, and which don’t. (We have included some great basic companion partner info in the next section)
From there, you can create a garden plan utilizing simple companion planting basics. Basics that can set the stage for healthier plants, better growth, and bigger harvests!
And those basics go far beyond just planting fellow vegetable plants. Many herbs and flowers can and should be grown in the garden as well for their positive benefits to nearby vegetable plants.
As it turns out, not only are many annuals and herbs beautiful and fragrant, they also are great for repelling common garden pests!
In fact, in our Companion Planting Experiment a few years back in our OWG test garden, it was amazing at just how effective annual flowers can be in keeping a garden safe from pests.
With all of that in mind, here is a look at some of the best relationships between common vegetable plants in the garden.
Companion Planting In The Vegetable Garden
Tomatoes and Peppers
These two garden favorites are wonderful to grow near or with cabbage, carrots, onions, garlic, lettuce and asparagus. But if you really want to help your tomatoes grow, plant basil nearby.
Basil is well-known as a natural deterrent against tomato hornworms, aphids, and beetles. Ind addition, it’s thought that growing basil near tomatoes also helps to improve their flavor
One more benefit to growing basil – it can help to repel mosquitoes. And who wouldn’t like to garden more without those pesky pests!
Always avoid planting peppers and tomatoes near potato plants. Blight and disease can easily be shared and spread between the plants.
Beans, Corn, Cucumbers & Squash
Beans do extremely well when planted with corn. Native Americans used this as part of the “Three Sister” planting method, planting corn, beans and squash together.
As it went, the corn stalks supported the bean vines. Meanwhile, the beans help to fix nitrogen in the soil for the corn. All while the prickly squash vines help keep out racoon and other pests.
Cucumbers and zucchini likewise are excellent crops to grow with beans and corn. Other crops that will do well near beans are potatoes, cucumbers, broccoli, pumpkins and gourds.
When growing beans, two crops to avoid are garlic and onion. Unfortunately, these two crops actually stunt the growth of the beans and can severely limit the harvest.
Plant near beans, corn and radishes. The corn works really well as it provides some shade protection for the cucumbers and allows for the vines to grow up and have support.
Avoid planting cucumbers around potatoes as they can encourage blight in potato crops.
Garlic and Onion
Not only do garlic and onions go well with peppers and tomatoes in the kitchen, they also grow well in the garden together.
Plant onions and garlic near or with tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, carrots, lettuce and basil. In addition to avoiding planting near beans, keep away from peas and strawberries as well.
Members of the broccoli family do well when planted near carrots, and near greens such as lettuce, kale and spinach.
Plant peas with corn, carrots, celery, cucumbers, radishes, tomatoes and turnips. Avoid planting with onions, garlic and shallots.
They can also be planted near carrots, cucumbers. Do not plant directly near the nightshade family plants of potatoes, peppers or tomatoes.
Plant Those Marigolds!
There are many annual flowers that can really help to repel pests. At the top of list are Marigolds. But others such as Alyssum, Zinnias and Nasturtiums all work wonders too.
Marigolds can help protect against an entire cast of vegetable garden pests. That includes aphids, nematodes, tomato hornworms, squash bugs and even cabbage worms. See; Growing Marigolds In The Garden
Even better, they help to keep rabbits, deer and squirrels at a distance too with their strong scent. But if that isn’t enough, consider that marigolds also attract all kinds of beneficial pollinators with their beautiful blooms.
Check Out Our Latest Garden Podcast: How To Grow Vegetables With Ease In 5 Gallon Buckets!
Honey bees, butterflies, and wasps all love the flashy blooms and sweet nectar that marigolds produce. And marigolds are one of the easiest annual flowers to grow!
Marigold varieties seed French Margiolds can be directly seeded in the garden to germinate and grow quickly. Not only do they help protect your vegetable plants, they look great too!
Here is to trying out companion planting in your garden this year. And, to growing your best garden ever! Happy Gardening – Jim and Mary
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