In life everything has an effect on the next thing. We rely on one another and what we do has an effect on the next person. The plant kingdom works in the same way and we call that Companion Planting.
Companion planting has been used for thousands of years. Evidence of companion gardening can be seen in the English Cottage Gardens of yesteryear in the intricate plant combinations while the Chinese planted mosquito ferns in their rice fields, to help prevent the sunlight from allowing weeds to germinate amongst their growing crops.
If you look at how plants grow in nature, if you plant two deep rooted plants next to one another they fight to survive. If you plant one deep rooted plant and one shallow rooted plant they live in harmony. Conversely if you plant a plant that doesn’t like wet feet in a boggy area it will not survive regardless of what it is around.
As you can see companion planting happens naturally in nature. Today companion planting is a popular practice amongst organic gardeners who refrain from the use of chemicals in their gardens.
So why do we use companion planting?
- It aids in pest control. Some plants help to keep potential problem pests at bay while other -plants attract beneficial insects, often by giving them a place to take up residence.
- Plants help with pollination.
- Companion planting can help increase your vegetable garden yields.
- Certain plants help by working with the soil.
There are a number of plants that help to fix the nitrogen in the soil which in turn helps some plants perform better.
Companion planting can also be used in flower gardens to disguise plants that have gone past their prime. A good example of this is planting perennials to hide spent bulb foliage.
Examples of companion planting:
- One of the most popular companion plantings for vegetable gardens is Marigolds. The fragrance helps deter aphids from attacking your tender plants. Planting blooming plants amongst your vegetable plants will help bring bees and butterflies to your garden to help pollinate your plants
- Many herbs are great plants to plant in amongst your vegetables as their fragrance serves to confuse pests helping to protect your valuable plants
- Planting bulbs in amongst groundcover that will hide the foliage of the bulbs once the bloom has finished is an excellent example of using companion planting outside a vegetable garden
Some great companions to keep in mind when planting your garden include:
- Plant tomatoes with marigolds, garlic, parsley
- Plant peas with beans, cucumbers, mint (mint spreads so plant in containers or keep contained!)
- Plant onions with tomatoes, beets, cabbage and broccoli
- Plant corn with peas and beans
- Plant spinach with strawberries, radish, eggplant
- Plant pumpkins with corn and beans
- Plant melons with radish
- Plant carrots with rosemary, onion and garlic
- Plant brussel sprouts with thyme, dill
- Plant turnip with peas
- Plant zucchini with flowering plants to help with pollination