What Is Companion Planting?

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Companion planting is a phrase that many gardeners have heard or read about, but what exactly is companion planting? Plainly put, companion planting is the concept of planting two or more plants next to one another to enhance the growth or flavor of the plants. Usually companion planting uses both vegetable plants and some ornamentals in order for the plants to support each other.

Ever heard of the “Three Sisters Garden”?

The Three Sisters Garden consists of growing corn, beans and squash all together on the same mound. The three plants compliment one another by supporting each other in some way. The tall corn provides shade for the squash on those scorching mid-summer days, and gives the beans a support to grow upon. The squash and beans help the corn by retaining soil moisture and prevent weeds. Growing these three vegetables together also increases soil fertility. The Three Sisters Garden is a prime example of companion planting.

Three Sisters Garden

Typical reasons for companion planting are to provide shade, to help control weeds or pests, or to enhance the flavor of the vegetables. For instance, interplanting basil around tomatoes can enhance the flavor of the tomatoes and repel hornworms; growing radishes around squash plants can deter squash borers.

Decide what your growing goals are when companion planting. Are you interested in luring beneficial insects, such as lacewings or ladybugs? You may want to consider this if you have an aphids problem, as ladybugs love to munch on aphids. Planting some marigolds and nasturtiums in the garden can help fend off nematodes, squash bugs and aphids. Petunias can be good for warding off hornworms and leafhoppers.

Attracting beneficial insects into the garden is a good way to support organic pest control. Interplanting your vegetables with some herbs is also a good way to get those “good” bugs in your garden.

Perhaps you are interested in conserving water or preventing weeds in your vegetable garden. Try planting hairy vetch around squash, or clover underneath corn. Clover is also great for the soil because it is high in nitrogen.

If your cucumbers need shade from the hot sun, try planting sunflowers in between the cucumber plants. The sunflowers will provide the shade, and act as a “pole” for the vines to grow up.

Some very popular companion plantings are:

  • Cucumbers – plant nasturtiums and radishes for cucumber beetle control
  • Asparagus – tomatoes, parsley or basil will help control asparagus beetles
  • Potatoes – horseradish to repel Colorado potato beetles
  • Eggplant – catnip will deter flea beetles
  • Tomatoes – basil will repel tomato hornworms
  • Carrotsonions control some nematodes and rust flies

Feel free to check out a more thorough listing of companion planting for vegetables. It is a wonderful resource on companion planting.

Many farmers and horticulturists have developed superb companion planting methods and there are some methods that are still just rumored fables. Don’t be afraid to try out new things and experiment with companion planting. If you have a companion planting that you would like to share, please leave a comment.

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  1. Simply wish to say your article is as astounding. The clearness in your post is just nice and i can assume you are an expert on this subject. Fine with your permission allow me to grab your feed to keep updated with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please keep up the gratifying work.

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  2. Dianne Shaw says:

    I’ve really gotten serious about growing our own organic food in the last few years. Have found companion planting very beneficial. Last year, I had some organic tomatoes that I accidentally knocked off he stem before they were ripe. As an experiment, broke them open and spread the seeds around different places, especially around our container plants as we don’t know what was sprayed before our foundation was laid. We don’t eat anything that is not grown in a raised container around the perimeter of the house.. We also dispersed some seed in our regular garden far from the house where no chemical anything has been added in 25 years. Those seeds have grown into healthy plants, attracting beneficial insects and geckos and frogs. Our food plants have done amazingly well. We have loads of tomatoes, peppers, herbs, beans, peas and blooming squash and cucumbers. So far these plants have been spared from insects. Looks like we’ll have a bumper crop. We have basil, thyme, oregano, sage, several mints interspersed. Bell proper with tomatoes and marigolds, Sage with hotter peppers, vinca near our asparagus borders, and beans and peas close to the okra, with lettuce between the plants. Except for a few border flowers, the asparagus has its bed Ti itself. Lots of marigolds along the other borders and minature Roses, too. Those came from the grocery store for $1 each and they are beautiful, I haven’t planted any seeds this year, except Okta and peas Started with heirloom seeds, and they’ve just reproduced on their own. However, some of our organic herbs came from Kroger. I cover them with cheese cloth when it is really hot. Just amazed. The first year was hard, but now easy to keep weeds down. The “extra” plants satisfy the critters so they leave the food crops alone. Oh yes, chives planted with thyme and tomatoes. Just awesome what you can do. My only “failure” has been been berry plants Think Ph is too high. Going to try to change that. All in all, a real success because of companion planting and making sure there is enough to share with everyone, increasing the frog and gecko populatin, plus bees, lacewings, ladybugs, and other beneficial insects. All works together!

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