Which Vegetable Combinations Should You Plant Together?

They Mystery Of Companion Vegetable Planting Unravelled

Companion planting has been practiced by gardeners for thousands of years. As time has progressed, we have lost much of the ancient knowledge that allowed us to garden using plants to complement each other and have come to rely on chemicals and other methods to produce our fresh produce.

companion planting in kitchen gardensWhy do some combinations thrive?

Some plants make excellent neighbors and others do not. There are many reasons why two plants may not grow well together, competing for root space, sunlight or nutrients are just a few. Plants are living organisms, they have requirements and they will grow best when these needs are met.

Just as some plants wont grow well together, there are others which will complement each other beautifully and will grow effectively. When grown together, these plants will improve each others health and vigor, as well as adding to their flavor. They may repel pests or draw in useful insects to the companion plant. They may share nutrients and act symbiotically rather than competing for the nutrients. Comapnion planting is also a great way to add diversity to your garden – monoculture is a perfect environment to harbor pests and diseases and let them thrive.

Other reasons some plants may not grow well together are that some plants are heavy feeders. Two varieties of vegetable growing in the same spot will compete with each other leaving both plants lacking in nutrition or having one plant thrive and the other in very poor health. A plant which is nutrient deficient will be more susceptible to pests and diseases. Other plants release chemical substances which will affect other plants making them unhealthy and more susceptible to pests and diseases.

What Combinations To Avoid

Potatoes should not be grown with squash, cucumbers, tomatoes or celery.

Celery wont grow well with carrots or parsnips

Beetroot is a poor neighbor when planted with broccoli, garlic or onions – their roots inhibit one another's growth

Which Vegetables Make Good Neighbours?

three sisters companion plantingOne of the most famous companion plantings is the Three Sisters. Native Americans farmed their corn, squash and pole beans this way with the combination providing a complimentary vegetable combination. The corn is a heavy feeder, but the other two vegetables do not compete with the corn for nutrients. The corn stalks make great climbing poles for the beans and the squash are thick plants at the base helping to block out weeds (more nutrient thieves) and provide shade on the soil.

Here are a few combinations which I think work well together

  • plant onions with leafy greens
  • anything from the cabbage family plants well with lettuce and raddish
  • tomatoes will grow well with lettuce and celery
  • lima beans and tomatoes make good companions
  • peppers planted with sweet corn
  • spinach and garlic
  • broccoli and radishes
  • green beans and spinach
  • spring kale and radishes
  • strawberries and watermelon

Companion Planting And Pest Control

The bane of every gardener's existance, pests and weeds can be deterred with companion planting. Here are a few of the combinations I have tried or heard of from other gardeners that will help you keep your vegetables pest and disease free while also making your garden look beautiful.

  • a marigold hedge to deter rabbits
  • rattail radishes to deter squash borers
  • growing flowers – a general all round deterrant – calendula, dill, sweet alyssum are most frequently named as good planting companions
  • Grow herbs in with your vegetables – basil, garlic, chives and oregano are popular companion plants
  • borage planted near tomatoes can discourage some pests
  • plant to attrack hoverfly's – natural killers of aphids – with plenty of nectar rich floweringplants. Cilantro and fennel are great at attracting hoverfly which in turn are great at eating aphids

Finding what works for you in your garden takes time. Trial and error are part of the learning process but once you have found a combination that works you will have it forever. beating off pest and disease naturally is a wonderful way to garden. You produce will be fresher and healthier and you wont be killing off the "good" insects along with those who destroy your crop.

Do you have any more companion vegetable planting combinations to share?







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