Strategically placing companion plants in your vegetable garden are a great way to let the veggies do all the work. Plants have feelings and need friends too! While I am slightly kidding, I am serious about plants having friends and supporting one another.
Companion planting is a great way to encourage positive growth in the garden for all kinds of vegetables and herbs. I’ve laid out the four pairs I enjoy the most and find work well each time I’ve tried.
Some people say it’s an old wives tale, but there is some science behind it. If anything, having a baseline knowledge of what vegetables grow well together will help avoid any aggressive plant growth that could choke and jeopardized an otherwise healthy plant.
Each plant has a need, and you don’t want competing needs next to each other.
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Tomato + Basil + Lettuce
It’s cute to think they grow well together and then eventually end up in the same salad bowl!
I do like to plant tomato in the middle of the lettuce and basil, in somewhat of a triangle. Since basil doesn’t take much space, it sits nicely at the point of the triangle, closest to the edge for easy picking.
Basil is a repellent to some flies and mosquitoes, which may also help the health of your plants. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can plant chives or garlic next to the lettuce as they go well together!
Corn + Beans + Squash
This is one the OG groupings for companion plants. “The Three Sisters” is the original name for this trinity of veggies and are historically successful together.
It’s a centuries old friendship! According to the Almanac, “the plants were a gift from the Gods, always to be grown together, eaten together, and celebrated together.” The scientific reason for the success of the three sisters method is as follows.
While planting the corn in the center of the trio, this will give enough height and structure to allow the beans to climb and grow.
The growth of the beans enriches the soil with their emission of nitrogen. The nitrogen helps the squash grow well. The well grown squash shades the soil with it’s large leaves. Magical!
Radishes + Carrots
These two root vegetables are another classic pairing that complement each other’s growth. The complement is not in the providing of nutrients or other essentials, but it allows for space.
Carrots are actually really friendly too but in this example, we pair carrots with radishes. Because radishes germinate and can be harvested rather quickly, then loosen the nearby soil when pulled.
The loosened aerated soil adds more room for growth, giving carrots the opportunity to thrive.
Carrots + Onions
While we have carrots in the garden, it is now a good idea to plant onions next to them. Carrots and onions do well together as they help protect each other from bugs and flies that typically harm them.
The scent of the onion repels carrot flies. Carrots break up the soil beneath the surface, allowing onions to grow better with aerated and moister soil.
As you can see, just a few of these pairings can create a whole garden with a ton of variety. It’s important to take note of what plants can benefit from one another, and why.
If you plan your garden early this year, take the time to plot out where your plants will go, and if you can incorporate more companion plants into the garden.
Not only will this force some variety into your garden, but also give you the chance to experiment with pairings that work best for you and your needs.
There are so many other opportunities for pairings, especially if you start adding herbs and flowers to the mix. The options are endless.
While you are considering which plants to select, it’s important to note what plants do not do well together. In the examples I selected, I can note quite a few pairings that would wreak havoc on any garden and stunt growth.
Here is a list of vegetables that do not grow well together:
- Carrots do not fare well next to herbs such as parsley and dill.
- Keep the onions away from beans and peas.
- Do not plant tomatoes next to cruciferous vegetables.
- Lettuce and broccoli need to be planted away from each other.
- Corn and tomatoes are not friends.