Tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetables grown in the United States. It’s easy to see why after tasting a tomato from the grocery store. Growing great tomatoes at home is a passion and an art, but it’s not that hard to learn how.
Tag Archive for companion planting
Companion planting is the practice of planting certain things together that help each other.
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.
- 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 eco system. 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. Click on the picture below if you’d like to get a copy. I couldn’t live without mine.
Companion planting helps with pollination.
- Companion planting saves space.
- 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 down side 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 is God’s natural way.
Think about how things grow in nature, they are mixed and hodge podge. Nature knows best.
- Companion planting supports nature’s natural cycles, plans and behaviors.
- Companion planting reduces improves flavors.
- Companion planting allows you to grow more variety.
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?
Beans should not be grown near onions, but should be planted with marigolds or potatoes, both of which repel the Mexican bean beetle.
Tomatoes make a great partner with carrots and onions. They provide shade to keep them from getting too hot.
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.
Onions deter many pests, but shouldn’t be grown near beans or peas. They do great with Cole crops, carrots, and lettuce.
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.
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.
Corn is a good companion for beans, cucumbers, potatoes, melons, pumpkins, squash and peas.
Cucumbers should not be grown near potatoes, but are great with beans, cabbage, corn and radishes.
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.
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 together, check out this article from Mother Earth News.
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Making a plan for your garden is one of the most important steps in success in growing. Each plant has specific sun, water, and size requirements in order to have optimal success. There are a few steps in planning that can save you a ton of heart break or disappointment later. Check them out below.
*The first step in planning the garden is to find your average last frost date in the spring. Click here to find your average last frost date. Once you have this date, you can start your seeds and seedlings accordingly. Your seed packets will tell you when is the best time to plant seeds and seedlings for tomatoes and peppers can be planted a few weeks after your average last frost date or when your soil temperature stays up above 50 degrees even at night.
*Next make a list of what you want to eat. There is no sense in growing things you don’t enjoy eating. Below is our list with the cold hardy or spring crops a the top and the warm season crops at the bottom.
*The next step is to make a list of when each plant can be planted. You can get a list of dates from your local extension office. I am in zone 7. You can look for Oklahoma Planting Times on Google to get the OSU extension list of planting times in Oklahoma. You can also click here to see how I keep my planting times straight.
*If you planted the previous year, you need to rotate your crops to a different area than that same type of plant was grown in the year before. Planting the same thing in the same spot year after year can cause pest and disease problems to reoccur. Draw out a map of where you had things planted last year so you can move everything you plant this year to a different area.
*Draw out a map to help you choose where to put your plants. You can use graph paper or do like we do and use the excel program to make a representation of your growing space. I like to have it be printable because I can reprint it and have a do over if I change my mind 100 times like I may or may not do. I use 1 square to represent 1 square foot of garden space. This way, when I look up how much space each plant takes to grow, I can mark off that many spaces on my map. I made the different spaces different colors so I would know the length of each bed when they are lined up in a row on the edges.
These are our two garden areas and the maps that represent them.
*Choose which plants to put together by their needs. Some plants retard growth in other plants, so you need to check out a companion planting chart before you plan your garden. Click here to see one. You can also get the book “Carrots Love Tomatoes” to have companion plant information handy all the time. In addition to companion planting, each type of plant also has certain water, sun, and nutrient needs. You can group plants together to help you care for them throughout the summer, such as planting carrots with tomatoes helps the carrots stay cool in the shade of the tomato plants as well as the carrots help repel bugs that eat tomatoes. But also, potatoes need less water than squashes and melons, so you could plant all of your melons, cucumbers, and squashes along one side of your garden and water that area more. Check out your seed packets to find out the requirements for each plant.
*If you want to plan to succession planting, or plant the same crop every two weeks for six weeks to spread out your harvest times, map that information on your map as well.
*Estimate the mature size of each plant and use your seed packets or plant information tags to find out how much space to block off for each plant.
*Write the names of your plants on your chart and then write down what you have decided to grow with the planting time next to each one. Then organize them in groups of the same time, so on that week, you will know what all you need to be doing in the garden.
*Track the varieties you end up choosing so when you find a favorite, you can plant it again the following year. A little bit of planning in the garden will go a long, long way in making your garden more successful and easier to manage. Do you have any tips or tricks for planning what you will grow?