Best Vegetable Companion Planting Guide

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Best Vegetable Companion Planting Guide

Best Vegetable Companion Planting Guide

Fundamentals of Companion Planting

Companion planting is growing a variety of vegetable plants, herbs, and flowers in the same area to influence a healthier, more productive garden. Planting certain plants close to each other can create support for the plants, utilize space and soil nutrients more efficiently, help prevent pests and disease, and create a habitat for beneficial insects.

Companion Planting Can “Lend a Hand”

By planting certain plants together, they can give each other the physical support they may need. Corn or sunflowers are both plants that grow with tall, strong stalks. These are great for supporting beans or cucumbers. Another example of a plant that can help another is to plant a row of corn on the south side of your lettuce. The corn will give the lettuce shade from the summer heat—shade that the lettuce needs, allowing you to harvest the lettuce longer.

Better Use of Space and Nutrients

You can use your space and soil nutrients more efficiently using companion plantings, especially if you have a limited area in which to grow. For example, after your spring crop of radishes and spinach has finished in July, get your bed ready for your fall planting of cabbages by adding in manure and compost. Place out your cabbage transplants; then in September or October plant your garlic bulbs around the cabbage. The cabbage will be harvested in the early winter, leaving nutrients and space for the garlic to grow in late winter and early spring.

Blanching is a technique of mounding soil or other materials around the base of a plant to prevent the light from reaching it. This practice makes the stalk whitish in color like, for example, celery or leeks. The lighter color is often more preferable when selling these products.

Another example is to plant your basil around the base of your tomato plant, just making sure that your tomato plant will be supported so enough light will reach the basil. The basil and tomato plants like the same growing conditions, have similar water requirements and are good companion plants. Or, plant your celery and leeks near each other; they both have similar growing requirements and grow best when blanched. These are just some examples of ways companion planting will maximize a small-space garden and help you use time efficiently.

Helps to Prevent Pests

Planting a diverse range of plants in your garden can mask or hide a crop from certain pests. The diversity is one-way companion planting seems to work. Insects can be repelled or attracted by the odor of certain veggies, herbs, or flowers. Knowledge about particular plants can be used to draw a certain pest to one plant (the sacrificial plant) rather than to another. Planting mustard greens near your cabbage, for instance, will attract the flea beetle to the mustard rather than the cabbage plant. Planting onions or chives in your carrot bed will help to prevent carrot fly from reaching the carrot root. Dill will attract aphids rather than having them get into your broccoli heads. These are just some examples of how one plant can be beneficial to another if they are grown near each other.

Attract Beneficial Insects

Creating habitat and providing food for beneficial insects is another principle of companion planting. The tansy flower is a great example, as ladybugs love this flower. The ladybug is your garden friend, so using plants to attract or keep it in your garden is one of the best ways to prevent unwanted insects like aphids. Ladybugs feed heavily on aphids. Rather than immediately pulling spent plants, letting some of your veggie plants go to flower is an easy way of attracting insects and birds to your garden. They will be attracted by the smell and food that is available in these flowers.

Companion planting is one of the oldest traditions when it comes to planting a garden. Historical records show the ancient Romans utilized a variety of plants in their garden designs to prevent pests. The Native Americans grew what is known as the “three sisters.” Corn, beans, and squash were planted together to save on space and prevent pests, and because they supported each other while growing (the corn stalks supported the beans and squash to grow vertically). Many gardeners swear by companion planting; however, since there is no scientific proof that growing certain plants together makes for healthier ones, there are some people who dismiss companion planting as an old wives’ tale. Give some of these suggestions a try in your own garden and make your own case for the benefits of companion planting.

When planting a diverse garden with a variety of vegetables, herbs, and flowers, it is important to label your plants (especially when young) so you remember where things are planted. Another important tip: make sure your pathways are obvious so no plants will be trod on accidentally.

Companion Planting

Vegetable Companion planting, the growth of multiple types of plants in close proximity in order to capitalize on complementary growth patterns, offers a natural and ecologically sensitive way to increase the vitality and productivity of a garden.

As an alternative to chemical fertilizers and soil enrichment, companion planting offers a safe and effective way to optimize the yield of garden crops, a systematic approach to pest control, and a method of fostering the growth of young and tender plants. Practiced since the dawn of agriculture, partnering plants with complementary qualities and characteristics predates the use of modern, potentially harmful agricultural methods.

Companion planting schemes can function in a variety of ways. Gardeners use some plants for their physical qualities: tall stalks can provide shade for young seedlings or a bulky, dense plan can act as a decoy to prevent pests from devouring a food crop. Other plants figure into garden plans because of their helpful qualities, such as attracting desirable insect life or repelling species that can threaten vulnerable vegetables. Some inedible plants cultivated in gardens improve the soil for future use in producing foodstuffs. Charts and reference books provide time-tested pairings that can optimize the output of gardens of any size.

Developed over centuries by generations of farmers and perfected by today’s advanced farming techniques, companion planting provides a natural and effective way to maximize the output of crops by pairing plants with complementary growth patterns.

Playing Matchmaker in the Gardenvegetable companion planting 3

Companion planting provides gardeners with the means to naturally and effectively increase crop yields, control pests, and nurture tender seedlings. Over the last century, farmers, botanists, and horticulturists have developed a myriad of methods both chemical and procedural to make crops grow bigger, better, and cheaper than ever before. Unfortunately, many of these technological methods have hidden prices to pay. As opposed to chemical or industrial processes, companion planting provides greater efficiency without undesirable side effects, such as environmental degradation, a lowering of the nutritional value of crops, and harmful pesticide residues on the foods we eat.

Kicking it old school

Commercial techniques, such as the application of toxic insecticides and chemical fertilizers, have been powerfully beneficial in the past. Increasingly, awareness of the hidden costs of these agents has caused gardeners to take a look at the methods developed through the trial and error of the successive generations of organic farmers that came before. Companion planting figures prominently among the tools nearly lost to the rapid industrialization of farming. Vegetable companion planting is a form of polyculture, a simple combination of two or more plants to create a better microenvironment in which all vegetation can grow and thrive.


Pairing up

There are many benefits of companion planting, both in the vegetable garden and elsewhere. As in nature, companion planting creates biodiversity, avoiding the susceptibility of monoculture to both pests and disease. In its simplest application, just two crops are grown together. If one crop is at risk for disease, the second crop ensures that something will survive. This biodiversity-based concept can be used in tremendously sophisticated ways, plotting plant combinations with the aid of companion planting charts and elaborate garden plans. Vegetable companion planting can also be used in such a way that one crop physically supports another. This technique is most commonly seen with tall plants, like corn, supporting climbing vines like peas or beans. Companion planting techniques promote healthy soil, capitalize on all available space, and takes full advantage of every available day of the growing season.

Brains and beauty

Vegetable companion planting can also create a more beautiful vegetable patch. Simple, neat rows of tasty greens turn into an elegant and decorative potager when punctuated with blooming annuals and bright perennials. The classic tradition of the English cottage garden is part of this school of garden design. In these overflowing, abundant gardens every inch of space is maximized. Showy perennials are grown along equally architectural kales and wandering squash plants. For a more austere, but equally lovely kind of companion planting, turn to the French. In the French tradition, vegetable gardens are planted within a ridged geometry of impeccably constructed beds. Inside these bed areas, different plants live side-by-side, utilizing all the benefits of symbiotic planting.

Double down

Companion planting needn’t fall neatly into the categories of utilitarian or beautifying. Many garden favorites do double duty in the vegetable garden. For example, climbing roses growing lushly over a vegetable garden’s entrance keep hungry aphids off delicate starts. Nasturtiums are also decorative and functional plants in the ornamental vegetable garden. Their enchanting, bright blooms, made famous in the gardens of Monet, are attractive to many of the insects that also enjoy plants in the cabbage family. Since the nasturtium is notoriously prolific, it can withstand the onslaught of potentially harmful garden pests and still look great. The faithful marigold is another plant that is both charming and a powerful ally to the gardener. Marigold repels pests and attracts beneficial insects with its unusual scent.

Companion Planting Charts – Matches made in heaven

Companion planting charts help gardeners to plant crops that capitalize on the natural harmonies and relationships that occur between plant species. These charts, available from any number of web sites Garden Nursery, nurseries, and botanical books provide lists of plants that grow well together. Companion planting schemes typically promise a means of pest control, the possibility of increased disease resistance for one or both plants, and more abundant crop yields.

Industrial farmers and suburban gardeners alike can benefit from pairing plants with complementary growing patterns. Common techniques include the creation of green barriers between food crops and the insects that consume them; the use of helpful species to increase the nitrogen content of the soil, thereby reducing the need for chemical fertilizers; and the raising of nurse crops to protect newly sprouted plants. Certain combinations of plants allow farmers to create foodstuffs with maximum time efficiency, such as the combination of soybeans and corn common throughout the entire American Midwestern region.

Although certain plant pairings promote better growth and healthier soil, other combinations can result in unforeseen complications or undesirable competition. Most charts include information on these undesirable pairings, as well.

Companion Gardening Chart

CROP NAMEFRIENDSFOES
BEANSBeets
Broccoli
Cabbage
Carrots
Cauliflower
Celery
Corn
Cucumbers
Eggplant
Peas
Potatoes
Radishes
Squash
Strawberries
Summer savory
Tomatoes
Garlic
Onions
Peppers
Sunflowers
CABBAGEBeans
Celery
Cucumbers
Dill
Kale
Lettuce
Onions
Potatoes
Sage
Spinach
Thyme
Broccoli
Cauliflower
Strawberries
Tomatoes
CARROTSBeans
Lettuce
Onions
Peas
Radishes
Rosemary
Sage
Tomatoes
Anise
Dill
Parsley
CORNBeans
Cucumbers
Lettuce
Melons
Peas
Potatoes
Squash
Sunflowers
Tomatoes
CUCUMBERSBeans
Cabbage
Cauliflower
Corn
Lettuce
Peas
Radishes
Sunflowers
Aromatic herbs
Melons
Potatoes
LETTUCEAsparagus
Beets
Brussels sprouts
Cabbage
Carrots
Corn
Cucumbers
Eggplant
Onions
Peas
Potatoes
Radishes
Spinach
Strawberries
Sunflowers
Tomatoes
Broccoli
ONIONSBeets
Broccoli
Cabbage
Carrots
Lettuce
Peppers
Potatoes
Spinach
Tomatoes
Beans
Peas
Sage
PEPPERSBasil
Coriander
Onions
Spinach
Tomatoes
Beans
Kohlrabi
RADISHESBasil
Coriander
Onions
Spinach
Tomatoes
Kohlrabi
TOMATOESAsparagus
Basil
Beans
Borage
Carrots
Celery
Dill
Lettuce
Melons
Onions
Parsley
Peppers
Radishes
Spinach
Thyme
Broccoli
Brussels sprouts
Cabbage
Cauliflower
Corn
Kale
Potatoes

Source

Vegetable medley

Many techniques and plant combinations already commonly used in gardening for aesthetic purposes could be considered forms of companion planting, although detailed charts also contain more exotic pairings. Nasturtium attracts caterpillars, so planting it alongside or around vegetables such as lettuce or cabbage protects the food crop. The nasturtium acts as a kind of decoy since the egg-laying insects will gravitate toward it and stay out of the vegetables. Crops that suffer from greenfly and other aphids may benefit from the proximity of marigolds: these flowering plants attract bugs that eat aphids, such as hoverflies.

In a similar manner, the use of plants that produce copious nectar and protein-rich pollen in a vegetable garden can support a population of beneficial insects to control pests. Some insects in the adult form are nectar or pollen feeders, while in the larval form they are voracious predators of pest insects. For this reason, roses are often grown around food plants, attracting a beneficial balance of harmful to helpful insects.

Another movement utilizing companion planting is that of the forest garden, where companion plants are intermingled to create an actual ecosystem, emulating the natural interaction of a multitude of distinct species. This system sacrifices some of the orderliness of a typical residential garden but produces a lush, wild beauty reminiscent of a true forest.

Fringe benefits

Companion plants provide many services to the plants they support, including:

  • Flavor enhancement. Some plants, especially herbs, tend to subtly improve the flavor of other plants around them.
  • Investment insurance. Multiple plants in the same space increase the odds of some yield being given, even if one category encounters catastrophic failure.
  • Level interaction. Plants that grow on different physical levels in the same space can form a ground cover or work as a trellis for another plant.
  • Nitrogen fixation. Some plants naturally trap nitrogen in the soil, improving conditions for future crops.
  • Pest suppression. Some plants naturally repel insects, nematodes, or fungi through chemical means, protection that extends to other plants in close proximity.
  • Positive hosting. These plants attract or house insects or other organisms that benefit plants, such as ladybugs, bees, or some desirable species of nematodes.
  • Protective shelter. One plant type may serve as a windbreak, source of shade from the noonday sun, or other physical aid for the growth of another.
  • Trap Cropping. These plants draw insects away from plants commonly eaten by humans.

The Basics of Vegetable Gardening for Beginners

vegetable garden

Vegetable gardening for beginners can be very exciting and it can help increase the chances of success. The amount of time that goes into creating a vegetable garden will be well worth it once those delicious foods are ready for harvest. Getting them to that point though takes some information and tips to get it done right.

Deciding what types of vegetables you want to grow is the first step to consider. Some of them need sunlight and others need shade. Some of them require lots of water and others need very little. The planting season for them will also vary so look into that. By doing some research on what particular vegetables need, you can start to get your plan of action into place. It is possible to grow more than one vegetable at a time but it all needs to be balanced.

With that information in mind, you can decide where in your yard you would like the vegetable garden to be located. The size of it is also important to consider. If you want to grow lots of delicious vegetables then make sure you have the space to make it happen. One of the key tips regarding vegetable gardening for beginners is to make sure the soil is well prepared.

The nutrients that the vegetables need to grow come from the soil. It needs to be evaluated before you plant anything in it. Remove clumps of dirt and rocks from the area and replace it with nutritious soil. You can add your own compost to it if you like to help ensure it is very healthy. Never use any types of chemicals in the soil for your vegetable garden.

Once you have the soil ready, pay attention to the planting instructions for the different vegetables you will place in the garden. You want them to be planted deep enough and spaced out far enough to get the best possible results. Buy quality products to plan as well or you won’t get excellent results. There are many varieties out there of all vegetables you can grow.

One element you need to be ready for is pests. They will find your garden to offer them food as well. Placing a small fence around the vegetable garden can keep out larger animals including dogs and cats. Never use any types of pesticides in your vegetable garden.

For smaller pests, use methods that can trap them instead of killing them. The types of pets you have such as worms will depend on the types of vegetables you have planted in the garden. Do some research to find out the safest and most effective methods for accomplishing this.

Weeds are going to try to crop up in your vegetable garden too so make sure you keep an eye out for them. You want to remove them by hand so that they don’t consume the nutrients in the garden that your vegetables need. Avoid using herbicides to get rid of them as that can be toxic for the foods you are going to eat from your vegetable garden.

As your vegetables grow to keep an eye on when you need to offer them more water. You also need to pay attention to when it is time to harvest your vegetables or they will start to rot.

Learning the basics of vegetable gardening for beginners is much easier than you might think. If you are tired of paying tons of money at the grocery store for your vegetables then this is a cost-effective way to continue offering them to your family. At the same time, you can be confident your vegetables won’t be offering any types of toxins to your family due to the way in which they were grown.

Companion planting FAQ – Common questions about companion planting answeredFAQ companion planting technique

What is a companion planting chart?

A companion planting chart lists plants and partner plants with a variety of beneficial interactive properties. Gardeners can use these charts to create helpful pairings, which improve garden health and vitality.

Where can gardeners find information on companion plantings and companion planting charts?

Companion planting is now celebrated in many wonderful books as well as online in gardening specific websites. For free or very inexpensive resources on companion planting, consider contacting your local agricultural extension office. Often these offices have a wealth of information on companion planting and other gardening issues relevant to your community.

Where did the practice of companion planting begin?

Companion planting techniques have been developed through thousands of years of agriculture. Farmers found that certain plant combinations helped crops thrive and virtually eliminated harmful pests. These techniques, although partially lost due to the ease of chemical alternatives, made a resurgence in the 1960s and 70s.

Is companion planting just for the vegetable garden or can the technique and principles apply to the flower garden as well?

Companion planting works in any area of the garden where one would like to maximize yield, improve fertility, and discourage pests. These qualities, among others, make companion planting tactics a natural match for both vegetable and decorative gardens alike.

What is a cover crop?

A cover crop is a type of companion plant that is used primarily during a vegetable garden’s dormant season. Crops that thrive in cooler weather, like clover, will grow all fall and winter. Cover crops are tilled into garden soils just before spring planting. These plants increase the nitrogen levels in the garden as they decompose into the soil.

Can companion planting really help reduce harmful insect populations in my garden?

Companion planting is a proven technique for discouraging insects in the garden. In this age of agricultural-chemical innovations, it’s easy to forget that just 50 years ago farmers used companion planting techniques for pest control instead of toxic chemicals. Plants such as marigolds release biochemical scents both from its roots and leaves that drive off some potential garden pests. Try planting them in between garden rows for a powerful and pretty garden companion. Other plants can repel specific pests, such as beetles, nematodes, or even moles.

Does companion planting improve soil fertility?

Companion planting can absolutely improve soil fertility. Many companion plants are used for their ability to trap nitrogen. These little gems ensnare diffuse nitrogen in their roots, which can later be tilled into garden soils. This natural nitrogen enrichment is very important as vital nitrogen is constantly being leached from our garden soils by rainfall and as a result of irrigation.

What is a nurse crop?

A nurse crop is a secondary plant, which provides support to desirable garden crops. Nurse crops are the main component of good companion planting schemes. These plant materials work in several ways maximizing soil productivity, sheltering tender garden starts, and disorienting infiltrators.

What is a barrier crop?

Barrier crops are secondary plant materials used to divert insects from desirable plant materials. The gardener rarely consumes these secondary plantings. Instead, they serve as decoys, protecting more attractive food sources by drawing insects and pests away from the protected crop.

How can companion plantings be used to make the most of the limited space in my small garden?

Companion plants work in tandem allowing the gardener to utilize every inch of garden space. For example, taller plantings, like sunflowers, can shelter tender fall vegetable starts like spinach. Another way to maximize space is to use tall plants as a trellis for climbing plants. Consider planting runner beans in corn to double crop yields.

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