What is Companion Planting?
Companion planting vegetables is a method of gardening where two or more different plants are grown together in the same space to benefit one another. The practice is rooted in the concept that certain plants can improve the health and yield of their neighboring plants by repelling pests, attracting beneficial insects, and improving soil fertility.
In general, there are three types of companion planting: plants that complement each other, plants that repel pests, and plants that provide structural support. Here are some examples of companion planting vegetables:
Companion Plants that Complement Each Other
- Corn, beans, and squash: Known as the “three sisters,” these plants are often grown together in Native American gardens. Corn provides support for the climbing beans, while the beans fix nitrogen in the soil, which benefits both the corn and squash. Squash, in turn, provides a ground cover that suppresses weeds and conserves moisture.
- Tomatoes and basil: Basil improves the flavor of tomatoes and repels pests such as aphids and whiteflies. Tomatoes, in turn, provide shade for the basil and prevent it from drying out too quickly.
- Carrots and onions: Onions repel carrot fly, while carrots repel onion fly. The two plants are also said to improve each other’s flavor.
Companion Plants that Repel Pests
- Marigolds: Marigolds are known to repel pests such as nematodes, beetles, and whiteflies. They also attract beneficial insects such as ladybugs, which eat aphids.
- Nasturtiums: Nasturtiums repel aphids and whiteflies, and their flowers and leaves are edible.
- Chives: Chives repel carrot fly, Japanese beetles, and aphids. They also attract bees and other beneficial insects.
Companion Plants that Provide Structural Support
- Peas: Peas are climbers that require support to grow. They are often grown with trellises, fences, or other structures that provide support.
- Cucumbers: Cucumbers are also climbers that benefit from trellising or other support structures. Trellising cucumbers can also improve air circulation and prevent diseases such as powdery mildew.
- Melons: Melons are heavy plants that require support to prevent them from breaking or bending. They are often grown with trellises, cages, or other structures that provide support.
Know What Works
While companion planting is a great way to improve the health and yield of your vegetable garden, it’s important to note that not all plants can be grown together. Some plants are allelopathic, meaning they release chemicals that can inhibit the growth of neighboring plants. For example, members of the nightshade family (such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and potatoes) should not be grown with members of the brassica family (such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and kale) as they can stunt each other’s growth.
In addition, it’s important to consider factors such as soil type, temperature, sunlight, and water requirements when choosing companion plants. Some plants prefer acidic soil, while others prefer alkaline soil. Some plants require full sun, while others prefer partial shade. Some plants require a lot of water, while others are drought-tolerant.
To get the most out of your companion planting, it’s important to do your research and plan your garden carefully. Start by choosing vegetables that are compatible and have similar growing requirements. Consider adding herbs and flowers to your garden to attract beneficial insects and add color and interest.
In conclusion, companion planting vegetables is a great way to improve the health and yield of your garden. By choosing plants that complement each other, repel pests, and provide structural support, you can create a thriving ecosystem that benefits both you and the environment. So why not give it a try? Your garden (and taste buds) will thank you!
Check out our companion planting chart and make sure to save and print a copy!