Companion planting is the practice of planting things together that help each other grow. Check out the benefits of companion planting for your garden!
When grouped together, plants can support each other by repelling pests, feeding each other and sharing resources. Companion planting will take your vegetable garden to a new level.
For instance, you can plant basil with tomatoes and it makes the tomatoes taste amazing. Basil repels some pests that like tomatoes. In addition, basil tastes great in tomato recipes, so it’s easy to harvest them when they are next to each other. This is companion planting.
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9 Benefits of Companion Planting
1. Companion planting helps control pests.
Companion planting is a legendary art.
It takes planning, but it will help you obtain a wonderful harvest. We have been growing the three sisters method for years. It’s an ancient Cherokee Indian practice. It involves planting corn for trellises and once the corn is a few inches high, you add squash and beans.
The beans feed nitrogen to the corn, the squash keeps weeds out and shades the roots and the corn gives them both something to climb on. They repel each other’s pests and encourage growth in each other.
It’s a great system. I recommend growing winter squashes and drying beans so you can pull all of your crops at once after the corn is done producing because it gets pretty crowded in the bed and that way you don’t have to worry about digging around in there and knocking over your corn.
2. Companion planting helps support the needs of the plants.
3. Companion planting supports plant diversity, which is beneficial to the gardener, the soil and our ecosystem.
Plant diversity gives us insect diversity and that decreases the overall number of parasites while it increases the number of beneficials.
There are so many different combinations of plants that can be grown together and there are tons of benefits.
Years ago, there was a book written called “Carrots Love Tomatoes”. The book went into detail about all of the plants that made good companions and all of those that didn’t like growing next to each other. It is still the best resource for this.
4. Companion planting helps with pollination.
Many flowers improve growth of plants, especially nasturtiums and marigolds. They are good around all plants and deter a host of pests. Sunflowers make a great trellis for cucumbers, but they do inhibit the growth of a lot of plants, so other than that, plant them off to themselves. They still make a great addition to the garden.
5. Companion planting saves space.
Planting crops intermingled takes up less room. For instance, asparagus roots grow very deeply, but strawberry roots are shallow, so growing them together uses the same amount of space to grow both as you would need to grow one. The same is true for growing leafy greens with root crops such as onions.
6. Companion planting increases productivity.
Companion planting can help with pest control, pollination, making the best use of your space, increasing crop productivity, and providing habitats for beneficials. Typically, these days, most products are grown in a mono-crop fashion, meaning there are giant fields of one single type of plant.
Obviously, this makes it easy to water, care for and harvest the crops. The downside is that mono-cropping causes farmers/growers to have to use a lot of chemicals to control pests. For instance, if the crop is tomatoes, every tomato hornworm in the tri-state area is going to be attracted to that field. If you mix tomatoes with lettuce, for instance, the tomatoes provide shade for the lettuce and the lettuce repels some tomato pests.
Companion planting garden layout
Think about how things grow in nature, they are mixed and hodgepodge. Nature knows best. So when you plan your garden layout, try to mimic how nature plants. Your companion planting garden layout won’t be rows of the same vegetable in a section by itself.
7. Companion planting supports nature’s natural cycles, plans, and behaviors.
Radishes are great companions to cucumbers, lettuce, melons and peas and they deter the cucumber beetle. I have also heard white icicle radishes deter squash beetles. We are working on a science experiment about that now.
8. Companion planting improves flavors.
Basil is good for most garden crops. It improves the flavor of lettuce and tomatoes and it repels mosquitos. Speaking of repelling mosquitoes, who doesn’t want that? There are many plants that enhance the flavor of other plants.
9. Companion planting allows you to grow more variety.
You can grow several kinds of peas in different areas of the garden with different vegetables. You can do the same with tomatoes, peppers, and almost any crop.
More plant combinations
Beans should not be grown near onions but should be planted with marigolds or potatoes, both of which repel the Mexican bean beetle. Here are more things that make great companion plants for green beans.
Tomatoes make a great partner with carrots and onions. They provide shade to keep them from getting too hot. For more on companion plants for tomatoes, check this out.
Intermixing herbs in all of your crops is always a great idea.
They deter many pests and don’t have plants that don’t like them. Oregano, parsley, thyme, sage (not with cucumbers), rosemary and dill (not with carrots) are all great deterrents for a number of pests.
Parsley is especially good for corn, roses and tomatoes. Rosemary is good for beans, cabbage, and carrots. Sage helps cabbage, carrots and especially tomatoes. Tomatoes grow better with sage nearby. Dill is a great flavor enhancer for cabbage type plants, as well as cucumbers, lettuce and onions.
Cucumbers should not be grown near potatoes, but are great with beans, cabbage, corn and radishes. For more on what to grow with cucumbers, check this out.
Garlic should not be grown near peas or beans, but is great with cabbages, tomatoes, and fruit trees.
Peppers are great with carrots, onions, parsley, tomatoes, and basil, but don’t love cabbages or fennel.
Companion planting is an art
Knowing what works well together is a great way to improve your productivity in the garden. It just takes a little research and some careful planning to rock your garden to the max.
For more information on what grows well specifically together, check out companion plants for peas, companion plants for carrots, companion plants for corn, companion plants for melons, companion plants for squash, and companion plants for radishes here.
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