Increasing Garden Harvests with Companion Gardening



companion plants for tomatoes

Tomatoes in last year’s garden

Companion gardening is a very old and proven method of growing various fruits and vegetables close to each other, for the mutual benefit of the fruits and vegetables. Some plants strengthen each other. In other cases, one plant might repel pests of the other plant. Of course, some plants shouldn’t be grown together, too. Let’s look at some of the best plant companions.

Note that for proper coverage of this topic, it will probably take several articles. These might be written if there is enough interest. This article is only a sampling, when it comes to companion gardening.

Tomato companions

Tomatoes do well when they are grown around the asparagus bed. The two plants mutually repel pests of the other.

One of the herbs that goes extremely well in tomato dishes is basil and as it happens, basil is a companion plant of tomatoes. Even if the basil is grown in pots, it is beneficial to put the pots near the tomato plants. This is helpful in another way, too. Both basil and tomatoes have the same needs in regard to sunlight, water and fertilizer. However, basil reacts faster than tomatoes, so by observing the basil, you will know when the tomatoes are in need of something. For instance, they start to droop when they are very thirsty and before tomatoes show that they need water.

Tomatoes grow well with garlic, because garlic is a powerful repellant of aphids. In fact, this is the reason garlic is often planted near roses, since roses are prone to aphid attacks. Tomatoes are, too.

Tomatoes also do well when planted next to beans, carrots, celery, chard, dill, leek, lettuce, onions, parsley, peppers, radishes, spinach and thyme.

Tomatoes should not be planted by members of the cabbage family (cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, cauliflower), corn or kale. They also shouldn’t be planted by potatoes, but the reason for this is that tomatoes and potatoes are of the same family and so similar in traits that diseases that affect one also affect the other. By planting them close together, you are increasing the chances of the diseases sweeping through the tomato and potato crops.

Cabbage

Cabbage, including all members of the family, grow well with celery, chard, cucurbits (cucumbers, squash, pumpkins), dill, kale, lettuce, onion family (onions, garlic, leek, chives), potatoes, sage, spinach and thyme.

Different members of the cabbage family shouldn’t be planted next to each other, though. This is for the same reason that tomatoes and potatoes shouldn’t be grown together. Cabbage also shouldn’t be grown next to tomatoes or strawberries.

Last year, I harvested a 15 pound head of cabbage that was grown next to zucchinis and soy beans. We also had four heads of cauliflower that were all well over five pounds, with all of the plants grown between lettuce and chard.

zucchini squash

Zucchinis and other summer squashes grow well with corn. This is mutually beneficial because corn grows up, rather than taking up a lot of room. Zucchinis take up a lot of room, but in so doing, the large leaves shade out weeds that would otherwise compete for nutrients, water and space. The plants both need the same amount of water and sunlight, too, and they both grow best in soil with the same pH.

Pole beans can be useful to grow near zucchini because they help fix atmospheric nitrogen into the soil in a form that plants can use. This is great for zucchinis and other summer squash because squash is a heavy feeding plant and they benefit from the extra nitrogen.

Corn, zucchini and beans, in fact, were and are commonly grown together by the American Indians as “the three sisters”. Each of these benefit from the presence of the other two.

The plants that don’t do well with zucchini are those that are low growing or that don’t do well in the rich soil that zucchini loves. This includes oregano, which prefers poor, rocky soil and doesn’t grow very tall. It also includes carrots and radishes, which can get shaded out by the leaves.

These are only three common garden plants and their companions, along with their adversaries. Simply by companion planting, you can increase your harvest.

Are you interested in companion planting? Is there a particular fruit or vegetable you would like to know the companions and adversaries for?

 


 

 

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