Plant Matchmaker: What Plants Make the Best Companions for Each Other
Whether you’ve been planting for years or you’re just starting out, you’re probably thinking about several ways to grow a healthy organic garden. No doubt you’d like to get a higher yield from this year’s garden as well. Now that you’ve gathered and tended to your seeds, turned your compost pile, and prepared your soil, you’ll move on to creating a blueprint of your garden. While creating a map of your garden, be sure to take into consideration where your plants will be placed in relation to each other. Below we’ve put together some tips for companion gardening that will help you get the best yield you can.
What is companion planting?
Companion planting is the art of placing your vegetables next to complementary ones. Though it seems similar to crop rotation, which is the successive planting of vegetables from varying plant families in the same garden season after season, companion planting is used to create a harmonious garden by allowing nature to bring out the best of itself.
Know your plant families
Just like creating a seating chart for your wedding, you’ll want to do a little bit of research before you start placing your plants next to one another. Take some time to get to know your plant families so you can plant vegetables from complementary families next to each other. For example, vegetables in the cabbage family grow well when placed next to beets and other members of the leafy green vegetable family. For an added punch, throw in some organic herbs that will help them deter pests. If you’re looking to enhance the flavor of your cabbages, place mint next to them. To ward off disease, place kale, broccoli, or another member of the cabbage family alongside these plants.
Keep track of the plants that don’t get along
Much like real members of our neighborhoods, some plants don’t get on all that well with some of their neighbors. Some vegetables will actually stunt the growth and yield of other vegetables. For example, you can pretty much bank on the fact that anything in the bean family will not do well if placed by chives, leeks, garlic, or onions. Beans will also start an argument with peppers, so avoid putting them together in your organic garden. Another feud you’ll want to avoid encouraging is the one between cauliflower and squash. In fact, neither broccoli nor cauliflower gets along well with squash.
Consider creating your own “kitchen garden”
Back in the day, people would grow what’s known as a kitchen garden. These types of gardens consisted of mixed vegetables, herbs, and flowers in one garden bed. This type of garden was popular because it looks beautiful, but also because it allows nature to create an organic garden that naturally keeps away pests.
Herb it up!
As mentioned before, herbs have the power to enhance the flavor of certain foods. Herbs can also prevent harmful insects from destroying your vegetables. For instance, thyme repels cabbage worm. Nasturtium and rosemary are great for warding off beetles that will try to attack your beans. And oregano is a great guardian for most plants as it deters unwanted insects in general.