Nature has a way of getting it right. While some species can’t get along with one another, there are situations in nature that cause vegetables to thrive when planted together with other vegetables. You can call it companion planting.
Something you need to know when practicing companion planting is that some plants can be partnered with others and all thrive. Then there are occasions when plants inhibit the growth of their neighbors. Cultivating a flourishing vegetable garden depends on your ability to mix and match the proper combination that ensures that all can thrive.
Companion planting that seems to work includes:
- Corn, Beans, and Squash
- Radishes, Spinach, and Squash
- Tomatoes and Cabbage
- Beans and Cauliflower
- Peppers, Spinach, Lettuce, and Radishes
- Eggplant, Spinach, Thyme, and Tarragon
- Broccoli, Onions, Garlic, Celery, and Beets
- Carrots and Tomatoes
- Cucumbers and Legumes
- Asparagus and Tomatoes
- Potatoes, Beans, Peas, Squash, and Cabbage
Corn, Beans, And Squash
Native Americans discovered that these three vegetables work so well in combination, they called them the three sisters. They believed that not only could they thrive together. They believed that neither would flourish without the others.
What’s so great about this combination is that corn; beans and squash supplement each other nutritionally. When beans are planted next to corn, their vines grow and climb the corn stalks. The beans keep pests away from the corn and the corn offers a structure through which the beans can stretch toward the sun to obtain nutrients.
Meanwhile, the bean’s vines keep the corn upright to endure harsh blowing winds. Beans also add nitrogen to the soil to feed both corn and beans through the next growing cycle.
Squash flourish in the shade the corn and bean vines provide. In addition, squash has shallow roots that mulch the topsoil and leaves that deter pests.
Radishes, Spinach and Squash
Plant radishes, next to spinach, and the radishes attract leaf miners, which is a small fly, moth, beetle or sawfly that produce larvae that burrow through a leaf. The leaf miners will spend their time chowing down on the radish leaves growing well underground thus saving the spinach from the pesky little devils.
Radishes also repel squash vine borers that eat the stem of the squash.
Plant the radishes in rows between the row of spinach and row of squash and all three vegetables will flourish.
Tomatoes and Cabbage
Tomatoes combat diamondback moth larvae and caterpillars. These critters eat cabbage. As long as the tomatoes are in the planting bed, but not next to the tomatoes, then all will thrive. Put another plant between the two and allow 2-feet to 4-feet of space to ensure that their root systems won’t compete with each other and all will be copacetic.
Beans and Cauliflower
Beans and Cauliflower are great neighbors in companion gardening. Both plants lure useful insects while repelling bad ones. You could also include celery, onions, and dill in this companion garden, but there are concerns. While celery enriches the soil for the neighboring cauliflower, it consumes all the water. And while onions deter cauliflower pests, they aren’t good for the beans, which is the best companion for cauliflower.
It would be more beneficial to combine beans and cauliflower with dill or zinnia flowers. The dill odor repels pests and the zinnia blooms attract ladybugs that eat cauliflower pests.
Never, ever combine cauliflower with strawberries. The strawberries entice slugs that love to chow down on cauliflower heads.
Peppers, Spinach, Lettuce, and Radishes
Pepper plants are ideal in companion planting. They’re tall, so they shade spinach, lettuce, and radishes. The spinach, lettuce and radishes combat weeds that take up space and nutrients needed by the pepper.
Eggplant, Spinach, Thyme, and Tarragon
A major problem with including eggplant in a vegetable garden is that it attracts an awful lot of pests. However, if you plant thyme and tarragon next to eggplant, the strong odor of the thyme and tarragon will combat pests away from the eggplants. Spinach planted next to eggplant in companion planting will deter weeds and thrive in the shadow of the eggplant.
Broccoli, Onions, Garlic, Celery, and Beets
Broccoli is a great vegetable for companion planting. It cooperates with nearly everything. Meanwhile, onions, garlic, celery, basil, and sage are great for the broccoli because they battle pests that eat broccoli heads and attract insects that eat the pests.
You can add beets to the family because they offer calcium that broccoli requires.
Carrots and Tomatoes
The tomato plant provides shade for carrots. Just don’t plant them any closer than 15-inches to 20-inches away so that the tomato won’t stunt the growth of the carrots. Not only do tomato plants provide shade for carrots, but they also emit solanine that repels insects that eat carrots.
Cucumbers and Legumes
Beans and peas have a root system that creates bacteria that produces nitrogen that cucumbers need. Include marigold near the cucumbers to deter beetles and nasturtiums to fight off aphids and other pests.
Asparagus and Tomatoes
Asparagus favor the companionship of tomatoes. The solanine produced by the tomatoes deters asparagus beetles and nematodes that are archenemies of asparagus.
Potatoes, Beans, Peas, Squash, and Cabbage
Potatoes favor having beans, peas and any plants in the cabbage family because they emit a sweet smell that combats pests. Never, ever place potatoes near cucumbers or pumpkins.
Finally, there is another benefit to companion planting. It doubles the output of the space you use.