Companion Planting For Vegetable Gardens

Companion Planting For Vegetable Gardens

Your garden is a community and some of its plants have very special friendships. One way to ensure your plants stay healthy is by focusing on companion planting, which is the practice of growing plants that mutually benefit one another – by planting them next to each other.

Companion planting is a great way to use space efficiently in the garden, plant your vegetables and flowers in mutually beneficial arrangements, and even protect your most prized plants from insects.

Mutual Support

Some companion plants can physically support each other, reducing the need for staking or trellising. The most famous example of this is the “three sisters model”, which integrates corn, squash and beans.

Companion Planting In the Vegetable Garden

  • Corn provides a stalk for beans to climb, as well as a visual deterrent for squash insects such as squash vine borer.
  • Beans provide nitrogen.
  • And squash can be a deterrent to vertebrate animals like raccoons, which often eat sweet corn.

These three vegetables are companion plants, with corn providing a “pole” for beans to climb, beans fixing much-needed nitrogen in the soil, and squash leaves spreading out to limit the growth of weeds and, help to retain moisture in the soil.

Soil Health

By planting plants with different root structures together, you can aerate the soil and allow plants to pull nutrients from different parts of the soil profile.

  • Plants with taproots or tubers like carrots or potatoes can help to break up compaction in the soil.
  • Deep-rooted crops like melons and tomatoes pull water and nutrients from deeper in the soil profile.

Companion Plant Carots For Soil Health

Adding legumes like peas, beans and clover to your garden is another great way to maximize soil health.

  • Legumes fix nitrogen from the atmosphere and reduce your total fertilizer needs.
  • Legumes such as snap peas or green beans can be planted as a crop you plan to harvest, or you can sow a legume cover crop underneath your main crop, such as sowing black-eyed peas under sweet corn in a garden bed.

Companion Planting for Managing Insects

Companion plants work in three primary ways to help manage insects:

With Smells:

  • Plants can emit odors that either repel insects, attract them, or simply mask the odors of other plants.
  • Due to these traits, you can use plants to pull pests away from other crops (trap crops),
  • Repel them away from the area (repellent crops)
  • Make insects less likely to land on your garden vegetables because there are too many signals to interpret.

Marigolds as companion plants in Vegetable Garden

Here are some benefits of marigolds in a vegetable garden:
  • Pest control –
    Marigolds contain thiophene, a chemical that helps control nematodes in soil.
  • Strong scent –
    Marigolds have a strong smell that can mask the scent of vegetables, making them less visible to insects like beetles, cabbage moths, and tomato hornworms.
  • Repel pests –
    Marigolds secrete limonene, which may help repel certain pest species, such as whiteflies and aphids.
  • Attract the good bugs –
    Marigolds can attract beneficial insects to the space.

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By Attracting Predators:

  • Predator insects eat other insects, and parasitoids lay their eggs inside of other insects.
  • By providing habitat and food for these insects, you can attract them to your garden to help you manage pests.

By Being Visually Distracting:

  • Some insects use visual cues to find their target plants, such as leaf shape or color or pattern.
  • If you have a whole plot full of the same plant, insects may find it more easily than if you have a variety of plants with different colors, heights, and textures.

Pepper Companion Plants

Companion Planting Chart

When growing edible plants in your garden, keep these popular planting combinations in mind:

Crop Companion Plants
Asparagus Basil, marigold, oregano, parsley, tomato
Beans Corn, tomato, eggplant, carrot, cucumber, pumpkin, radish
Cabbage Sage, dill, beet, peppermint, rosemary, corn, spinach, sunflower, nasturtium
Carrot Onion, chive, rosemary, radish, nasturtium, cilantro
Celery Onion, cabbage, tomato, bush bean, nasturtium
Corn Beans, marigold, sunflower, cucumber, nasturtium, squash
Cucumber Beans, dill, marigolds, radish, chives, zucchini, peas
Eggplant Beans, marigold
Kale Sage, dill, beet, peppermint, rosemary, corn, spinach, sunflower, nasturtium
Lettuce Carrot, garlic, peas, radish, strawberry, onion, chive
Onion Beet, carrot, lettuce, tomato, watermelon, eggplant
Peas Apple, carrot, radish, raspberry, turnip
Pepper Basil, garlic, onions, radish, nasturtium, cilantro, marigold
Potato Basil, beans, corn, nasturtium, cilantro, marigold
Spinach Strawberry
Squash Beans, nasturtium, mint, radish, dill, basil, sunflower
Tomato Basil, marigold, nasturtium, carrot, garlic, chive

There are a few common mistakes gardeners encounter when companion planting that can cause unintended stress on your plants. First, avoid choosing plants with competing root systems, as this can inhibit growth overall. Additionally, don’t forget to think about each plant’s growth habits. Consider plant height and size to make sure plants have enough room to grow.

Companion Planting For Vegetable Gardens

By growing communities of plants that are known to support each other, you can save a lot of time and potential heartache. This is nature’s way of minimizing pest damage, boosting soil health, reducing weed competition, and, ultimately, increasing yields.  Companion planting for vegetable gardens is a tried and true way to have a successful harvest!

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