It’s been a well-established fact, for eons certain plants do better when planted near other certain plants, yet many people still treat it like mythology. The process is actually based on science but there are a lot of variables depending upon weather, climate, plant varieties, soil types etc. so it’s tough to be specific where small home gardens are concerned. I will share some of the things that have worked for me and hope to hear from you about your experiences as well.
There are a lot of principles at work with companion planting. Some plants emit chemicals and other substances, which enhance the growth and health of other (companion) plants. Conversely, some plants negatively, affect other plants in their proximity.
Another interesting way plants work together, is that some plants act as ‘decoys’ for insects that are harmful to certain other choice plants. The decoys distract the insects away from their intended and more susceptible targets. For instance, parsley, when planted near tomatoes, deters tomato-destroying insects by attracting those pests to itself and away from the tomatoes.
The scientific principles at work in companion planting, also work when certain plants are incorporated into natural insect and disease repellant sprays, however, I am not going to elaborate on that any further at this time.
Anytime I can use an organic method to enrich the garden, I embrace it. I have used the companion planting method for years and I believe in it. And besides all the scientific arguments for it, it just makes things more interesting.
I enjoy seeing marigolds, nasturtiums, zinnias and cosmos springing up among my squash, beans and tomatoes. They add color and fun to the garden.
Interestingly, basil not only enhances tomato flavor in cooking but the two also pair up well together in the garden. Basil repels flying insects that target tomatoes as well as tomato hornworm, and basil discourages fungus that can ruin tomatoes.
Some other good companions are:
Carrots are happy planted near peas, chives and lettuce.
Cucumbers, peas and beans are good companions.
Roses appreciate chives and garlic because aphids don’t like them.
Tansy discourages many insects harmful to plants and annoying to people. I grow it around the porch and garden areas.
Sea Lavender is an Artemesia and discourages weeds. I plant it around the herb garden.
As important as it is to know which plants get along well together, it’s also important to know which plants don’t like each other either. For instance, do not grow fennel near tomatoes. Onions should not be near peas, parsley or beans.
I just learned last year, that the herb hyssop increases grape growth and vigor. I have both grapes and hyssop and until recently, they were in different areas of the yard. I transplanted some of the hyssop to the base of the grapes and if nothing else, the results can’t hurt and they are actually very attractive.
Beans and corn grow especially well when planted together. Corn depletes nitrogen from soil and beans help replace it. Corn also acts as a support in small gardens for climbing bean plants. Instinctively, or through experience, the Native Americans knew and practiced this companion planting technique, teaching it to Early American settlers..
Marigolds grown with vegetables are helpful because they discourage nematodes, the larval form of harmful beetles. Marigolds are beneficial when they are growing but all the more so at the end of the growing season when they are ground up and integrated into the soil where they inhibit the growth of the larvae in the soil.
When flowers are companion planted with vegetables and herbs, this results in the flowers attracting bees, butterflies and hummingbirds into the vegetable and herb gardens. In turn, this helps pollinate the vegetables and herbs, many of which have small inconspicuous (to us) flowers. The more obvious nearby flowering plants increases the attention the herbs and vegetable plants receive from helpful fauna and also increases the plant’s yields.
As an added benefit, the flowers make the vegetable garden even more colorful and attractive. Frequently when I am tending my vegetables; butterflies, bees and hummingbirds are working right along beside me, increasing my enjoyment, resulting in me spending more time there. Win-win!
Try a few of these ideas in your garden and see if you notice a change!
Check out this companion planting garden layout site and other related sites for more information.