I have, recently been promising to get a video and post up concerning the basics and importance of companion planting. As I was starting more seeds in the greenhouse this morning, and going through my planting schedule and plan, I figured I had better get going on this thing or else time was gonna keep slipping away!
What is Companion Planting?
Companion planting is the process of planting certain plants in certain places in order to get the absolute best benefit from them. This can mean a variety of things; planting two (or more) plants right together because they help each other grow; separating certain plants because they hurt each other, planting certain plants all around because of the bugs that they attract or discourage…and so much more.
***If you are a newer gardener, you may also want to check out 9 Gardening Tips for Getting Started with Great Success.
Why Consider Companion Planting?
As an organic gardener, I honestly couldn’t do without using companions. I do not use any kind of chemical in or anywhere near my gardens, therefore I have to be more creative with growing and protecting my crops. This is why companion planting is so important here at Two Oaks Farmstead.
I use plants that bring in good bugs to feast on bad bugs. I use plants that add elements back to the soil that the crops tend to deplete. I use companion planting to assist my garden and the soil because I am not in a position to do crop rotation.There are so many great reasons to have a look at and try companion planting.
As an Example – The Three Sisters
There is one set of companions that most people have heard of because it has been around for so long. I’ll use this as an example of how it works. The ‘Three Sisters’ are probably the most widely known companions. They are corn, beans and squash and the following is how and why it works.
Corn is a heavy nitrogen feeder and beans fix nitrogen to the soil. Beans need something to grow and vine on and corn happens to be a strong enough stalk to act as a trellis. Squash, with it’s big leaves, planted at the bottom of both, casts shade and therefore cooling their roots, keeping them from drying out as quickly and suppressing weeds. Because of how these plants work together, they are wonderful companions.
My Suggestion for New Gardeners or Just Gardeners who are New to Companion Planting
I always tell people to start off your planning with your main crops; the crops that your family enjoys eating. Once you have that main list, then start adding the proper companions for those items. If you try to jump in from the beginning with all the companions, you could possibly lose your mind! It can be overwhelming, especially when you consider how many combination possibilities there are to consider. The following is a list of good options, for basic crops that most families use. Plus, a few of my favorite companion planting groups and tips at the end.
- Good Companions – Beets, Cabbage family, Carrot, Corn, Cucumber, Eggplant, Lettuce, Peas, Marigold, Potato, Radish, Rosemary, Savory, Strawberry, Tomato
- Keep away from fennel, onion and other alliums
- Good Companions – Carrots, Corn, Cucumber, Eggplant, Lettuce, Peas, Radish
- Keep away from beets, cabbage, onion family (alliums), fennel
- Good Companions – Beans, Peas, Chamomile, Corn, Carrot, Nasturtium, Radish, Sunflower
- Keep away from aromatic herbs, potatoes
- Good Companions – Corn, Nasturtium, Radish, Sunflower
- Keep away from potatoes
- Good Companions – Carrots, Cucumber, Corn, Radish, Beans, Potatoes, Aromatic Herbs
- Keep away from garlic, onions, leeks, shallots
- Good Companions – Basil, Eggplant, Lettuce, Parsley, Rhubarb, Spinach Tomato
- Keep away from fennel
- Good Companions – Bush Beans, Peas, Cabbage family, Corn, Eggplant
- Keep away from cucumber, melon, squashes, pumpkin, sunflower, tomato
- Good Companions – Basil, Borage, Carrots, Horehound, Nasturtium, Bee Balm, Onion, Parsley
- Keep away from potatoes, corn, dill
- Good Companions – Corn, Lettuce, Lovage, Nasturtium, Parsley, Peppermint
- Keep away from potatoes
Great Tip Straight From My Garden
- I ALWAYS do this! Plant onions, lettuce and carrots together!!! They work so well together. Their timing is terrific. Onions are half in half out of the surface and they take a little while to come to maturity. Carrots are below the surface and lettuce is on top, both of which are also great for multiple plantings at two week intervals. They are terrific for groupings. I just scatter the seed, rake in and water!
- Plant basil and parsley with your tomatoes…You won’t be sorry!!! You can also plant onions, leaf lettuce and carrots underneath!!
- Plant marigolds everywhere! I’ll be honest. I don’t really like marigolds. I think they smell yucky, but they cannot be beat for an all around perfect companion for the whole garden!!!
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