Through the many centuries that humans have cultivated gardens, people have noticed which vegetables grow well together, and which plants seem to stunt each other's growth. Some vegetables, herbs and flowers benefit each other by improving soil, while others deter pests from one another. Companion planting provides a fascinating blueprint for a higher garden yield.
Companion planting is the art and science of laying out a vegetable garden so that complementary types of vegetables are planted in the same bed. Unlike crop rotation, which means successively planting vegetables from different plant families in the same garden area season after season or year after year to minimize insect and disease problems, companion planting aims to create a harmonious garden by allowing nature to share her strengths.
Rules of a Green Thumb
The rule of (green) thumb for companion planting is to note which family the vegetables come from, and think about planting vegetables from complementary families together. Vegetables from the cabbage family, for example, like to be planted with beets and members of the green leafy vegetable family. Certain herbs will help them by deterring pests. Mint will also improve the flavor of cabbages. You could plant any member of the cabbage family such as cabbage, broccoli, kale, and others alongside these plants and see a higher yield and improved disease resistance.
Avoid Planting Some Vegetables Near Each Other
Just like people have likes and dislikes, vegetables actually have likes and dislikes as well, particularly for their "next door neighbors" planted alongside them in the garden. Some vegetables will stunt the growth and yield from other vegetables. Consult a companion planting chart, such as the one provided below, to make sure you plant vegetables next to each other that do well together.
Easy Reference of Which Vegetables Grow Well Together
The chart below provides quick and easy references for not only which vegetables grow well together, but which to avoid planting together.
|Vegetable||Companion Plant||Don't Plant Together|
|Beans (Bush or Pole)||Celery, corn, cucumbers, radish, strawberries and summer savory||Garlic and onion|
|Beets||Bush beans (not pole beans), cabbage, broccoli, kale, lettuce, onions, garlic||Pole beans|
|Cabbage Family (cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts)||Beets, celery, dill, Swiss chard, lettuce, spinach, onions, potatoes||Pole beans|
|Celery||Beans, tomatoes, cabbages||None|
|Corn||Cucumber, melons, squash, peas, beans, pumpkin||Tomatoes|
|Cucumber||Beans, corn, peas, cabbage||None|
|Melons||Corn, pumpkin, radish, squash||None|
|Onions||Beets, carrots, Swiss chard, lettuce, peppers||All beans and peas|
|Peas||Beans, carrots, corn, cucumbers, radish, turnip||Garlic, onions|
|Potatoes||Beans, corn, peas||Tomatoes|
|Squash||Corn, melons, pumpkins||None|
|Tomatoes||Carrots, celery, cucumbers, onions, peppers||Corn, potatoes, kohlrabi|
Other Companions for Vegetables
Many old-fashioned vegetable gardens, which are also called kitchen gardens, mixed vegetables, herbs and flowers together. Not only does this type of garden look beautiful, but it also harnesses the power of nature to create an organic garden that naturally repels pests.
Marigolds repel many species of insects. You can plant marigolds around tomatoes to inhibit the ugly green hornworms. These big insects can devour an entire tomato plant in one night. Plant marigolds around your entire vegetable garden to add bright color and keep the insect predators at bay.
Herbs add flavor to foods, and they can also discourage harmful insects.
- Nasturtium and rosemary deter beetles that attack beans.
- Thyme repels the cabbage worm.
- Chives and garlic deter aphids.
- Oregano, like marigolds, is a good all-purpose plant for the organic gardener who wants to deter most insect pests.
Plant herbs freely among vegetables, tucking basil, oregano, rosemary and chives in among the tomato and pepper plants. You can harvest the entire crop and make one great tasting dinner.
Reap the Benefits
Companion planting offers every gardener the chance to harness the power of nature for higher yields as well as natural, organic insect control. By tucking a few carefully chosen extra plants among the vegetables, you increase the garden yield and enjoy a bountiful harvest.