Beginners Guide To Companion Planting
If you have always wanted to garden more organically, companion planting may be one of the solutions. We've listed some of the more popular companion plantings for common vegetables grown by gardeners. No matter how many plants you're growing – whether its on your balcony or an acre of land – companion planting is a natural way to attract predators and reduce the need for chemicals in the garden.
The Three Sisters – One of the oldest companion planting trios
This is a classic example of companion planting. The three sisters trio were being grown by the Iroquois for centuries before Europeans came to our shores. The Iroquois have a mysticism associated with these plants which states that they will only grow well when grown together. This trio is easy and satisfying to grow.
The three sisters are made up of corn, pole beans, and either pumpkins or squash.
To try your hand at growing the three sisters, make a mound of soil in your garden about a foot high and four feet wide. Make sure that the danger of frost has passed and plant your corn in the mound. Sow six corn kernels, about ten inches apart. When your corn is about 5 inches tall, plant four bean seeds spaced evenly around each stalk. About a week later plant out your squash. You will need six seeds, spaced evenly around the perimeter of your mound.
Why Do They Grow So Well Together?
Just like real sisters, they all contribute something to the planting. The corn offers support to the beans; the beans bring nitrogen to the soil benefiting all three plants and the large leaves of the squash prevent weeds from growing and keep the soil cool and moist.
Some Other Winning Combinations
Garlic Chives With Your Roses – garlic and roses are a classic combination as the garlic repels rose pests. Planting garlic chives is another option, the chives are just as repellent and they have small purple or white flowers which complement your roses beautifully.
Cabbage and Tomatoes – tomatoes are repellent to diamondback moth larvae. These are the caterpillars responsible for chewing those unsightly holes in your cabbage leaves (one among many of the pests which attack your cabbages)
Nasturtiums and Cucumbers AND Nasturtiums and Cabbages – Nasturtiums are a great companion plant. They will ramble in amongst your cucumber vines as they are also a vining plant. Nasturtiums have a reputation for repelling cucumber beetles, but they also make a suitable habitat for predatory insects. When they are paired with cabbages plant them a little further away; the white cabbage moth is attracted to nasturtiums and the damage they inflict on your flowers will save your cabbages. A worthwhile sacrifice!
Peppers with ragweed – the leaf miners who destroy your peppers actually prefer ragweed or pigweed. If you have trouble with hayfever you might want to think twice before planting ragweed and you need to remove their flowers before they seed – they really are a weed as well as a companion plant.
Cabbage and Dill – Dill will attract the tiny wasps which will help to keep the cabbage worms and other cabbage pests under control. The cabbages will support the dill which can be floppy as it grows.
Lettuce and tall flowers – tall, flowering plants like flowering tobacco and spider flower will provide light shade which is great for growing lettuce.
Radishes and Spinach – the radishes will draw the leaf miners away from your spinach leaves. Even though they will damage the radish leaves they wont damage the radishes growing in the soil.
Potatoes and sweet alyssum – these tiny flowers attract insects which are predatory to common garden pests. Alyssum will form a natural ground cover and it smells beautifully sweet so your garden will be scented all summer.
Cauliflower and dwarf zinnias – zinnias will draw ladybugs and other predators which will help to protect your cauliflower.
Collards and catnip – if you plant catnip alongside your collards you will have less incidence of flea beetle damage.
Marigolds and Melons – marigolds will control nematodes in the roots of your melons – just as effective as chemicals and safer too!