Companion Planting for the Vegetable Garden

Companion Planting for the Vegetable Garden

Though some may plant their gardens haphazardly (to each their own, I say) I like to create a plan and plant carefully for beneficial growth and insect control. With 40 years of vegetable gardening experience as my guide, here are a few things that I have learned along the way.

  • Diversity in the garden (as in most areas of life) is healthier
  • Some plants have a positive effect on others
  • The results of these relationships are often as beautiful as they are productive

The following is a brief synopsis of what I have gathered on the subject of companion planting from books (Roses Love Garlic is my favorite), online blogs, friends, trial and error, and good old common sense. Some of this material is based on science and some on folklore. Take what works for you, be open to experimentation, and, above all, have fun. Whatever you decide to try, I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the results.

Good Companions

Members from this group of plants play well with others, bolster growth, and prevent disease or infestation from harmful insects. There is no 'wrong' way to go about companion planting (border planting, interplanting, etc.) and whatever you try is bound to produce better results than doing nothing. So be brave and dig in.

Asparagus - Tomatoes, parsley, basil, and nasturtium

Basil - Tomatoes, lettuce, and most garden crops

Beets - Chard, onions, broccoli, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and bush beans

Bush Beans - Carrots, catnip, potatoes, strawberries, corn, and marigolds

Cabbages - Dill (attracts beneficial wasps) and tomatoes (cabbage moth caterpillar repellent)

Carrots - Radish, rosemary, chives, leeks, lettuce, onions, cabbage, and sage

Cauliflower - Dwarf Zinnias (the nectar attracts ladybugs and other protective predators)

Corn - Beans (fix nitrogen and attract beneficial insects), squash, peas, and pumpkins

Cucumbers - Nasturtium (repels beetles), squash, and corn

Eggplant - Peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, and green beans

Lettuce - Beets, carrots, and tall flowers (to provide protective shade)

Marigolds - All garden crops benefit from this flower's ability to deter aphids, beetles, nematodes, and other harmful insects

Melons - Marigolds

Nasturtiums - Beans, cabbage, potatoes, radishes, and cucumbers

Onions - Carrots, beets, and lettuce

Peas - Corn, cucumbers, radishes, beans, and squash

Petunia - Beneficial throughout the garden

Potatoes - Cabbages, corn, eggplant, peas, Sweet Alyssum

Radish - Lettuce, peas, and cucumbers

Roses - Chives and garlic

Rosemary - Cabbage, carrots, beans, and sage

Spinach - Radishes, eggplant, celery, and strawberries

Strawberries - Spinach, bush beans, and lettuce

Sunflowers - Cucumbers

Swiss Chard - Kale, onions, and bush beans

Thyme - Improves growth and flavor of most vegetable, so plant generously

Tomatoes - Basil, carrots, parsley, cabbages, chives, and marigolds.

Poor Companions

Also know as allelopathic plants, this group does not play well with others and its members should be located well away from other plants. Allelopathic plants release chemicals which can inhibit another plant's health, sometimes causing them to bolt and go to seed too early, retard their growth, or outright kill them or their seed. These harmful substances are released from the leaves, flowers, bark, or the soil surrounding the plant. The list of antagonistic plants is extensive. Some of the more infamous are:  Fennel, Shasta Daisy, English Laurel, Elderberry, Eucalyptus, Sycamore, and Walnut trees.

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