How to Use Companion Planting to Increase Garden Bounty
You want to have great neighbors that aren’t going to interfere in your life, cause you misery, and play music at all hours of the morning, right? Well, you might not realize it, but everything you are planting in your garden feels the same way. If you have the wrong plants growing next to one another, it could cause problems.
Of course, your tomatoes aren’t going to worry about the cabbages playing polka music into the wee hours. Instead, the problem would be the passage of diseases to one another. Some plants just shouldn’t be neighbors.
However, there are also companion plants that can help you improve the success of your garden. Let’s get a closer look at what this means and how it works, so you can start using it to your advantage.
What Is Companion Planting?
This simply means that you will plant different types of plants near one another for mutual benefit. Certain types of plants can work quite well together. Although most people immediately think of vegetable gardens when it comes to companion planting, other plants can benefit, too.
What Are the Benefits?
Certain types of plants will do a good job at attracting beneficial insects, such as bees that can help with pollination. Some can act as a deterrent or repellant for unwanted insects or for pests that could harm the plants. Interestingly, they could even help to keep some larger animals away.
Raccoons, for example, don’t like the scent of cucumbers. Lavender and mint can help to keep mice away from the garden.
Planting something like corn can provide some added shade for plants that don’t do well with full sunlight, such as lettuce. Interplanting makes it easy to mark garden rows and can help to suppress the proliferation of weeds.
What Plants Make Good Companions?
You will hear quite a few opinions on what does and doesn’t work well together. For example, corn, pole beans, and pumpkins are one of the most common combinations because of how well they work together.
The corn will provide support for the beans and shade for the pumpkins. The pumpkins help to keep away the weeds, and they keep the ground cooler to help preserve water. Of course, this is just one such combination. People will have different preferences. However, you will find that all the options below pair together quite well.
- Beans pair well with broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, garden peas, potatoes, radishes, squash, strawberries, and tomatoes.
- Carrots pair with beans, garden peas, lettuce, onions, and tomatoes.
- Cabbage can work well with onions, potatoes, collard greens, turnips, and broccoli.
- Corn does well with beans, cucumbers, garden peas, melons, potatoes, and squash as companions.
- Cucumbers work well with beans, beets, corn, peas, radishes, and onions.
- Garlic can work with broccoli, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, beets, and carrots.
- Peas are good to pair near carrots, corn, cucumbers, eggplants, peppers, tomatoes, spinach, radishes, and beans.
- Zucchini pairs nicely with beans, corn, peas, and radishes.
- Lettuce is a good choice for pairing with pumpkins, corn, squash, and radishes.
- Onions can be paired with beets, carrots, broccoli, kale, and lettuce.
- Potatoes are a good option with beans, corn, radishes, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, kale, Brussel’s sprouts, watercress, and broccoli.
These are just some of the best pairings. When you are planning your garden arrangement, you can use this list or others like it to show you how to pair different vegetables for good results.
You may find that you don’t have quite enough space in your garden for all these crops. Even though that might be the case, it doesn’t mean that you can’t benefit from some forms of companion planting.
A popular option is to plant some beneficial herbs alongside the main garden when you have limited space.
Consider some herbs that will help to eliminate pests in the garden. In addition to the lavender and mint mentioned earlier, other herbs to plant include basil, borage, chives, cilantro, oregano, rosemary, sage, and thyme.
Although you might want to use some of these for herbs for cooking, it’s a good idea to at least let some of them bloom. They help to attract beneficial insects to the garden.
Common Mistakes to Avoid with Companion Planting
One of the first things that you will want to consider will be the needs of the plant. You typically don’t want to put two plants next to one another if they both have similar nutrient, water, and space needs. If you do this, it means that the plants are going to be competing. Neither will thrive and both may die.
Think about diseases, too. You don’t want to plant two crops of plants next to one another if they are both susceptible to the same type of disease, such as blight. Instead, they should be planted as far apart from one another as possible. This will help to reduce the risk of the disease spreading.
Some plants simply don’t do well around one another. One of the biggest culprits here is fennel. If you are going to be growing fennel, you will want to keep it away from all your other crops. Give it a space of its own.
Additionally, you will need to make sure you follow through with crop rotation. This simply means that you won’t want to plant the same garden crop in the same spot year after year. When you do this, it could lead to issues with diseases in the plants, as well as pests. It will also create nutrient imbalances in the soil. This will make growth more difficult.
Learn more about how you can start using companion planting in your garden. Check out our other post on our site about this strategy, and make sure you check out all our other content, as well. Learn more about sustainable farming through the articles and newsletter, and check out all the various classes available, so you can get some hands-on experience.
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