Friend or Foe? The Basics of Companion Planting

If your garden aesthetic is “the bigger the better” or you simply want a healthy garden, here are our top ways to use companion planting to maximize your yield.  Companion planting is placing certain crops in close proximity to help mitigate pests, increase pollination, to maximize space or just overall improve crop productivity. Companion planting, also known as intercropping, can also be used to improve soil fertility, maintain plant health, provide weed suppression, offer shade regulation and you can even use tall plants to support lower growing plants by using them as natural support.

We could talk forever about the benefits of companion planting, but here are some basic rules to follow to help maximize your yield and promote healthy garden growth.

The Potato Factor

Keep potatoes away from cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers as blight and disease can easily be shared across these plants and can ruin your potato harvest.

Insect and Pest Repellent

Grow basil to help repel mosquitos and plant marigold, alyssum, zinnias and nasturtiums to keep pests away.

Indigeneous Roots

The tried and tested “Three Sisters” planting method was established by the indigenous community where beans, corn and squash are planted together for maximum success. Radishes and cucumbers also work well in this combination because the corn provides shade protection and a place for the vines to grow up and be supported.

The Vampire Effect

A good way to remember a popular companion planting rule is that if it is thought to keep away a vampire, it should be kept away from most crops. Keep onion, garlic and shallots away from peas, corn, carrots, celery, cucumbers, tomatoes, turnips, cabbage, lettuce, basil, beans, peas and strawberries!

Greens and Greens

Oftentimes  green plants will do well together, meaning you can always plant members of the broccoli family with lettuce, kale and spinach. Carrots also go well with the broccoli family.

Friends not Foes

Common foods like corn, carrots, radishes, cucumbers, tomatoes, celebrity and turnips all pair well together.

Are you new to companion planting and looking for a foolproof way to impress your friends? Try using your raised garden bed to make a “salsa garden” to spice up your weekly Taco Tuesday. Simply plant one oregano plant, two cilantro and nine red onions in the front of your bed. Place one serrano pepper plant, one staked fresno chili plant and one caged Roma tomato in the middle and finish it off with two planted tomatillos in the back. Tomatillos must be planted in pairs to ensure cross pollination and voila – a salsa garden, margaritas not included.

If you are still unsure whether your plant combination will make a friend or foe out of your garden, contact us for an assessment and we can design the landscape of your dreams.