Companion Garden Planting

Companion planting has long been used by gardeners, who pair specific plants for their mutual benefit. Sometimes it’s about confusing or discouraging pests, other times it’s about attracting beneficial insects to deal with the pests. Here are some companion plantings to try in your edible garden.

tomatoesSwellphotography/Shutterstock

Tomatoes and Marigolds

Marigolds aren’t just ornamental, they also chase away destructive root-knot nematodes, microscopic worms in the soil that attack the roots of tomato plants. While you’re at it, add in some basil to this companion planting. It is well behaved and thought to improve the flavor of tomatoes. It can also be harvested simultaneously for salads.

 

carrotsjaroslava V/Shutterstock

Radishes and Carrots

These two vegetables work well together in a companion planting because they’re on different schedules. Radishes are the hare, going from start to finish in just 25 to 30 days. Carrots are the tortoise, taking 60 to 80 days to mature. Sow the seeds of both of these vegetables together. When you harvest the radishes, it opens up space for the later-maturing carrots.

 

lettucezaranda/Shutterstock

Lettuce and Basil

This is another pairing that works efficiently because the plants are on different schedules. The cool-season lettuce peters out around the time the basil is ready to soak up the heat of summer.

 

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Green Beans and Corn

These two make a good combination because the beans can climb the cornstalks for support without impeding its growth. Beans also fix their own nitrogen from the atmosphere,meaning they can create their own nitrogen (with the help of soil bacteria) rather than needing nutrients from the soil. The extra nitrogen improves the soil for surrounding plants, in this case nitrogen-hungry corn. Native Americans added a third plant—a sprawling squash vine that shaded out weeds beneath the corn and beans—and called the trio The Three Sisters.

 

garlicOOmyim/Shutterstock

Roses and Garlic

The shorter garlic fills in nicely around the bare stems of rosebushes. More important to the success of this companion planting, garlic is said to chase away aphids, spider mites and most importantly, Japanese beetles.

Cabbage1: Niferure/Shutterstock 2:Peter Turner Photography/Shutterstock

Rosemary and Cabbage

Rosemary is a strong-smelling herb (fortunately, it’s a good aroma!) that may help confuse or distract cabbage moths from cabbage, kale or other cole crops. Sage and mint are also reported to have the ability to ward off cabbage moths. (Mint can be a garden thug, by taking over in a hurry, so plant it in a container and bury the container to keep the roots from spreading.)

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Nasturtium and Squash

Just like marigolds, colorful nasturtiums can bring an ornamental flourish to the garden while doing the heavy lifting on pest control. In this case, nasturtium’s job is to guard against aphids and squash bugs. Bonus: Edible nasturtium flowers can be added as a salad topper.

 

OnionWako Megumi/Shutterstock

Carrots and Onions

This is another good pairing for a companion planting because the onions repel carrot flies and aphids. Leeks, rosemary and sage are also reputed to turn away carrot flies.

Both carrots and onions grow better in a raised bed full of rich, well-drained soil.

 

floral1:vandame/Shutterstock 2: yakonstant/Shutterstock

Mums and Beans

Intersperse chrysanthemums among bean plants to deter Mexican bean beetles. At the end of the season, when the beans are done, you’ll have something ornamental to look at. Summer annuals such as cosmos and marigold are also said to be helpful at controlling Mexican bean beetles. These are the 10 worst garden insect pests and how to get rid of them.

flowersHildaWeges Photography/Shutterstock

Zinnias and Vegetables

When used to rim the outskirts of the garden, tall zinnias block the view of the vegetables, creating a prettier view for people. They also serve as a barrier to deer, who don’t see the vegetables or don’t want to move through the zinnias to get to them. Jerusalem artichoke, cleome and other tall plants can also serve this purpose.

 

 

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45 Comments

      1. Yeah, I’ve started the corn. I’m waiting for the corn to grow then I’m going to sow the beans right next to the corn. Then after the beans start to grow I plan to sow the zucchini next. I’m also growing over 40 varieties of peppers. The heat ranges from sweet to extremely hot.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. It is done with fruit trees and grapevines too. Roses are often grown at the ends of rows in vineyards to provide habitat for beneficial insects. Italian cypress attract martens, which chase off birds that would otherwise eat the grapes. Mulberry trees on the outskirts of apricot and prune orchards fed and distracted birds that would otherwise eat the apricots and prunes.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It sounds like you have a plan jan! Have fun with it, you will love the outcome. If you even have a little space, you can grow garlic. Just bury one of the cloves, with the skin peeled out, down about an inch, just enough to cover with soil. Grows in no time! Easy. Great to plant around your roses, etc to keep pests away.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Kelly, I’m new to your blog, and think I’m going to enjoy following along. We’ve just added four raised vege beds to our back yard so this was an interesting post. Winters on its way now, but come next summer I think I’ll be trying out the three sisters planting. It sounds like a great combination.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. We only erected the beds about a month ago. We’ve almost filled them now with a mix of seeds and seedlings which are all coming along well. We’ve been eating silverbeet and lettuce now for about two weeks. They were planted as seedlings. We have a fourth raised bed too, but that one’s waiting for asparagus crowns to arrive in the nursery. That’ll be around mid winter I think.

        Liked by 1 person

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