Guide to Companion Planting
In part 2 of the article “Square Foot Gardening“, I wanted to touch base on an extreme important concept that can not only increase your yields but also deter pests.
Companion planting is the art of planting two or more vegetables and/or flowers in close proximity to each other for mutual benefits. It’s an ‘art’ because you must know which plants benefit each other in order for companion planting to work its magic.
Companion planting done right allows for a higher yield of produce in smaller spaces and promotes organic gardening. Plants that help repel pests or add nitrogen to garden soil help the organic gardener stay true to their mission. Plus, tucking in a few insect-repelling flowers, like marigolds, just make the garden look prettier. Use this guide to companion planting so your vegetables won’t have to stand alone in the garden any longer.
Corn and beans or peas make a good combo for companion plants. They have the same soil, water and sun requirements and the corn stalks provide a place for the vines to grow so the beans or peas will be off the ground. The vines will also help anchor the shallow-rooted corn stalks so heavy summer winds or rain won’t topple them over.
Garlic should be planted throughout the vegetable and flower gardens as a natural insect repellant. Plant garlic near rose bushes and berry plants to repel the Japanese beetle. The garlic will not change the scent or rose blooms or the flavor the berries, but it will increase the essential oil production of both and enable the plants to produce more fragrant roses and juicier berries.
Cabbage worms are the arch enemy of developing cabbage heads and they can be repelled naturally with by the right companion plants. Sourround cabbage plants with companion plants with onions, dill, sage, beets, rosemary, thyme or lavender. Plant any vegetable in the cabbage family (broccoli, cauliflower, etc.) with the above mentioned companion plants.
Carrots repel moths that like to feed on chives, lettuce, peas and tomatoes. As a root vegetable, carrots also help keep the soil from compacting so moisture can be better absorbed by its companions.
Cucumbers and sunflowers are good companion plants. Sunflowers produce very little shade, so cucumbers can thrive when planted at their base and sunflower stalks provide a strong support which cucumber vines can grow on.
Potatoes benefit from having eggplants as their companion plants. The eggplant acts as a trap for the potato beetle. Eggplants and beans are good for companion planting as well.
Increase Tomato Flavor
Plant basil and oregano as companion plants near your tomatoes to increase tomato flavor. Onions, chives, parsley, asparagus, lima beans, carrots and nasturtiums are also companion plants for tomatoes and for each other.
Nitrogen Adding Plants
Growing vegetable plants need plenty of nitrogen in the soil to produce strong, healthy plants. Squash and nasturtiums are two plants that naturally add nitrogen to the soil. Nasturtiums are also edible.
Peas love nitrogen-rich soil and do well when planted near squash.
Radishes Repel Insects
The scent of radishes repel insects throughout a garden and are especially beneficial when used as a companion plant for lettuce and cucumbers.
If you only have room for one companion plant in your home garden, make it the marigold. Plant marigolds around the garden perimeter and between the tomatoes plants. Marigolds work hard to repel a variety of above and below ground insects.