I love flowers.
Peonies are my favorite, but if you were to pull up some violets from the yard and bring me a bouquet of them, we would be best friends forever.
Flowers tend to be what we think of companion planting vegetables with in our gardens.
But there is a whole world of companion plants out there, just waiting to be discovered by you!
I want to go over the basics of companion planting and why you should. The book “Carrots Love Tomatoes” by: Louise Riotte is basically the companion planting bible, if you would like an in depth resource for which plants pair well with each other.
There is an awesome chart here and you can download the PDF file.
Here is what it looks like:
The real question in all of this is: Why companion plant?
Certain plants when grown close together become other plants’ companions, and in turn create a symbiotic relationship. This could mean either one of two things.
One, the plants work together to thrive. Or two, one plant deters pests and disease from the other.
Plants are like the other inhabitants of the Earth. They all compete for nutrients, water, and space. Plants that are companions tend to help each other versus choking each other out, in their search for food and room. While there are endless companions in the plant world, there are also endless enemies. What do I mean by that?
You need to carefully plan your garden out, if using companion planting techniques. Certain plants inhibit growth in others, shade each other out, or even kill other plants by producing toxins (See: The Black Walnut Tree).
Companion plants can help fertilize one another.
Beans actually fix nitrogen in the soil. If you plant them beside plants that need lots of nitrogen (Peas, Carrots, Beets, Broccoli, Kale) those varieties will take off!
The Native American “Three Sister Planting” is a great example of companion planting. “This age old grouping involves growing corn, beans and squash – often pumpkin – in the same area. As the corn stalks grow, beans naturally find support by climbing up the stalk. Beans, as all legumes, fix nitrogen in the soil, which supports the large nutritional needs of corn. Squash grows rapidly and the large squash leaves shade out weeds and serve as natural weed block. Good plant companions work in support of each other.” (Companion Planting Guide)
Here is a good starter list for you, but really you should buy the book “Carrots Love Tomatoes” if you want to get into companion planting.
Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis):
Plant With: Parsley, Basil, Tomatoes
Beans (Phaseolus and Vicia):
Plant With: Carrots, Cauliflower, Corn, Cucumbers, and Cabbages
Do Not Plant With: Anything from the Onion Family; Garlic, Shallots, or Chives. As well as gladiolus.
Beets (Beta vulgaris):
Plant With: Bush Beans, Onions, Kohlrabi
Do Not Plant With: Mustard
Broccoli (Brassica oleraceae):
Plant With: Dill, Celery, Chamomile, Sage, Peppermint, Rosemary, Potatoes, Beets, and Onions
Do No Plant With: Tomatoes, Pole Beans, or Strawberries
Carrots (Caucus carota):
Plant With: Onions, Leeks, Rosemary, Wormwood, and Sage
Plant With: Celery
Do Not Plant With: Tomatoes and Strawberries
Celery (Apium graveolens):
Plant With: Leeks, Tomatoes, Cauliflower, and Cabbage
Corn (Zea mays):
Plant With: Potatoes, Peas, Beans, Cucumbers, Pumpkin, and Squash
Do Not Plant With: Tomatoes
Cucumber (Cucumis sativus):
Plant With: Corn, Beans, Peas, Radishes, and Sunflowers
Do Not Plant With: Potatoes and any Aromatic Herbs
Kale (Brassica oleracea acephala):
Plant With: Cabbage, Potatoes, Beans, Peas
Lettuce (Lactuca sativa):
Plant With: Onions, Strawberries, Cucumbers, and Carrots
Plant With: Corn, Sunflowers, and Morning Glories
Do Not Plant With: Potatoes
Onion (Allium cepa):
Plant With: Cabbage, Beets, Strawberries, Tomatoes, Lettuce, and Chamomile
Do Not Plant With: Peas and Beans
Pea (Pisum sativum):
Plant With: Carrots, Turnips, Radishes, Cucumbers, Corn, Beans, and Potatoes
Do Not Plant With: Onions, Garlic, and Gladiolus
Peppers (Capsicum frutescens var. grossum):
Plant With: Basil and Okra
Pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo):
Plant With: Corn
Do Not Plant With: Potatoes
Spinach (Spinacia oleracea):
Plant With: Strawberries
Plant With: Nasturtiums
Tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum):
Plant With: Cabbage, Chives Onions, Parsley, Marigolds, Nasturtium, Garlic, and Carrots
Do Not Plant With: Potatoes and Fennel
Pests and Diseases
Not all bugs are bad. You heard that right?
If something fly’s, craws, or wiggles around our plants we want to identify those bugs first, before taking action.
When you companion plant, you shelter beneficial bugs, drive away unwanted ones, and sometimes even confuse others so they can’t find food sources amidst your precious garden.
Instead of mass planting crops, have flowers and companion plants grouped together throughout your garden. You can companion plant flowers among your vegetables to attract those wonderful pollinators. Not to mention you can plant varieties that attract beneficial bugs that EAT the pesky ones destroying your plants!
In a garden setting we mainly hear talk about keeping bugs away, but what about keeping rodents or un-wanted mammals out of your garden?
I honestly swear by companion planting when keeping rodents out of my garden. ALL of my neighbors (except 1) have fences around their gardens or complain to me about how rabbits, squirrels, etc just eat away at their gardens.
I planted garlic around the perimeter of my garden this year. Do you know what I HAVEN’T had problems with?
Rodents. I had one broccoli plant chewed off at the beginning of the season, but after that, nothing.
Coincidence? Good Luck? God looking out for my garden?
Probably not. (Well, I know God IS looking out for my garden ha)
It’s the garlic.
I garden organically and use no pesticides (even organic ones) if possible. I believe my garden should sustain itself easily and require little help. With companion planting, it’s possible for my garden to be almost completely sustainable (in regards to pest control and pollination).