What is the secret to a healthy garden? Companion planting.
By understanding which plants grow well next to each other, you take into account nutrient uptake in the soil, crop protection from environmental elements and pest management (both good and bad).
What is Companion Planting?
It is exactly what it sounds like; finding plants that help each other out when planting next to each other. Plants can help each other by meeting their nutrient requirements, growth habits or pest-repelling, or attracting, abilities.
The Three Sisters are a perfect example of companion planting: corn, beans and squash. Not only are the Three Sisters rich in mythological, cultural and botanical history, but they thrive when planted together. In many Native American communities, these three crops hold spiritual significance, as they are seen as gifts from the Great Spirit to sustain life on earth.
Corn is known to have a high nutrient requirement and can leave your soil depleted of nutrients, so planting a climb bean/legume helps to enhance the availability of the nitrogen in the soil. And the third partner in crime, squash, has large hairy leaves that protects the soil against the sun and reduces pest activity.
Why You Should Start Companion Planting
Plant Protection: Weather, like too much sun or a strong wind, can be harsh on delicate plants. Planting a heartier plant next to something more delicate can help the growth of those smaller plants.
Organic Pest Management: Companion planting is a natural way to reduce the number of bad bugs you have entering your garden. Try planting plants your pests love next to a crop that they despise. This will deter them and help your plants thrive.
Beneficial Insects: A lot of times, introducing flowers to your garden helps to produce a surplus of nectar and pollen that you otherwise would not have present. By increasing the population of beneficial insects in your garden, you are naturally providing your plants with the love they need.
Which Plants Do Well Together
Asparagus actually repel nematodes that love to attach tomato plants and tomatoes repel asparagus beetles.
Basil companion planting will help asparagus, beans, beets, cabbage, chili and bell peppers, eggplant, marigolds, oregano, potatoes and tomatoes.
Beans are good companions with broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, peas, squash, and strawberries.
Beets are prized with adding great minerals to the soil. Leafy veggies such as lettuce benefit from the added magnesium provided by beets.
Borage companion plant is said to repel tomato worms and cabbage worms because borage attracts beneficial insects, such as bees and tiny wasps. Plants that grow well with Borage are tomatoes, cabbage, squash and strawberries.
Bok choy may experience improved growth and health if you plant it near one or more of the following vegetables or herbs: beets, bush beans, carrots, chamomile, chard, cucumbers, dill, kale, lettuce, mint, nasturtiums, potatoes, sage and spinach.
Brassica (broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, turnip) all benefit from chamomile, cilantro, mint, dill, rosemary and sage. Cauliflower specifically likes to be planted near celery. The smell of the celery helps repel butterflies that often attack a cauliflower crop.
Carrots are great companion plants with tomatoes, leeks, onion, rosemary, sage, chives, and beans. Onions and leeks deter carrot flies by masking the odor, making the carrot flies think there is nothing for them.
Chive in your garden is best where you grow parsley, broccoli, cabbage, eggplant, kohlrabi, mustard, peppers, potatoes, rhubarb, roses, squash, strawberries and tomatoes.
Cilantro, also known as Mexican parsley, are great companion plants to basil and mint. Cilantro is also great next to tomatoes and not only protects tomatoes from pests, but also improves the flavor.
Corn is a great companion to beans, beets, cucumber, dill, melons, parsley, peas, potato, beans, squash and sunflower. Avoid planting next to celery or tomatoes.
Cucumber. To repel aphids and beetles, plant marigolds and nasturtiums among your cucumbers. Beans, celery, corn, lettuce, dill, peas and radishes are also good companion plants. Keep cucumbers away from aromatic herbs such as sage. These herbs will stunt a cucumbers plants growth.
Garlic and onions go together with chamomile, dill, and parsley. Garlic is also great planted next beets, sweet peppers, spinach, lettuce, and parsnips. They help repel insects from strawberries and peaches.
Lettuce companions well with beets, broccoli, beans (bush and pole), carrots, cucumbers, dill, onion, radish and strawberries.
Mint also deter carrot flies and do well when planted next to them. Beets, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, peppers, eggplant, lettuce and peas as also great with mint.
Parsnip companion plants include other root vegetables such as garlic, onions, potatoes and radishes. Parsnips also thrive in the same bed with peppers, bush beans and peas.
Peas grow well with a number of aromatic herbs including cilantro and mint. Leafy greens, such as lettuce and spinach.
Peppers. Carrots, cucumbers, radishes, squash, and members of the Allium family all do well when grown in close proximity to peppers. Eggplant, a member of the nightshade family along with peppers, thrives alongside peppers. Spinach, lettuce and chard are suitable pepper companions.
Potatoes. Lettuce and spinach is often planted between rows of potatoes to save room in the garden and because they do not compete for nutrients. Chamomile, basil, yarrow, parsley and thyme are herbal companion plants for potatoes that improve their growth and flavor, while also attracting beneficial insects to the garden.
Rosemary. Planting rosemary nearby will also help your beans, broccoli, cabbage, carrots and hot peppers to flourish. The only herb we found that would benefit from rosemary companion planting was sage. Planting carrots, potatoes and pumpkins near rosemary is not advised as they make for poor companions.
Sage is another herb that prefers growing near vegetables and fruits to most other herbs. The only herb sage enjoys bedding with is rosemary, so the best place for sage is in the vegetable garden. Plant Sage around strawberries, tomatoes, carrots, and cabbage.
Spinach – A good companion for Brassicas, eggplants, leeks, lettuce, peas, radish, and strawberries, particularly. Don’t plant spinach near potatoes.
Squash, as mentioned above, loves to be planted with corn. But squash also loves to be next to pumpkin, melons, peas, radish and lettuce. Avoid planting squash next to potatoes.
Strawberries serve as a great ground cover to control weeds around horseradish, rhubarb and asparagus. Strawberries are also a great companion plant to lettuce, marigolds, onions, chives, sage and spinach.
Sunflowers are known to increase a corn harvest when planted next to corn rows. Sunflowers also attract pollinators to other crops like squash and pumpkin that require pollinating in order to fruit.
Tomatoes make good companions with the majority of popular garden vegetables. Plants recommended for companion planting with tomatoes include amaranth, asparagus, basil, bean, borage, calendula (pot marigold), carrots, celery, chive, cleome, cosmos, cucumber, garlic, lemon balm, lettuce, marigold, mint, nasturtium, onion, parsley, peas, sage, stinging nettle, sow thistle, and squash.