Have you ever used companion planting in your garden?
By learning the principles of companion planting you can create a beautiful garden full of crops that can are mutually beneficial to each other.
They will work together to reduce pests, disease, and weeds while also increasing flavor, growth, and harvest!
The Complete Guide to Companion Planting in Your Garden
Companion planting has been used for hundreds and thousands of years. And while there are some naysayers who claim that companion planting has no scientific proof, there are hundreds of farmers who have experienced the benefits of companion planting in their gardens first hand.
So what is companion planting, and how does it work?
What is Companion Planting
Companion planting is a gardening wisdom that has says that when certain plants are grown together, you can get increased yields, better flavor, less disease and fewer pests.
It is a time honored way to grow an organic garden without having to resort to fertilizers and pesticides.
For example, let’s say you are talking about tomatoes. Maybe you have trouble with aphids or spider mites on your plants each year. This is your host plant.
You would choose a companion plant (or 2) that helps deter these pests away from your tomatoes. You can also choose a companion plant that helps improve the flavor of your tomatoes too.
How Does Companion Planting Work
As in my example above, companion planting works in a variety of ways. Here are just a couple:
Attract Beneficial Insects
Companion plants will attract beneficial insects to your garden.
This including predatory insects and parasitic wasps that will feed on garden pests such as squash bugs, aphids, hornworms, and more.
The companion plants will also attract pollinators. And we all know you won’t get much of a harvest without pollinators!
Changes in the Soil
Different plants can either add or take away elements of the soil.
Such as green beans, peas, and other legumes are nitrogen fixing and help make nitrogen more readily available for heavy feeders.
Root vegetables can help break up the soil and plants with longer roots can draw more nutrients up for crops with shallow roots.
Companion planting can help provide living mulch to prevent erosion and conserve soil moisture.
Many benefits of companion planting revolve around organic pest control. One way to control pest is by using trap crops.
Trap cropping works by planting more favorable crops to deter pests away from your prized vegetables. The garden pests are draw to the trap crop instead of your vegetables.
As long as you harvest and destroy the most infested parts of the trap crops periodically you can effectively keep pests under control.
Repel or Deter Garden Pests
When you companion plant strongly scented plants, like onions or garlic, nearby you can help repel common garden pests. This works by confusing the sense of smell of the insect, making it harder to them to find the host plant.
Some companion plants mask the odor of the host plant and some companions are offensive to the pest and they won’t come near enough to chew on the host plants.
There are even some companion plants that can cause physical reactions such as paralysis in pests, making them easier prey for you or predatory insects.
Save Space and Time
Companion planting also can save you space and time.
When you plant crops that don’t compete for nutrients you can place them closer together without overworking the soil.
This also works with similar crops, like peppers and tomatoes, which have the same sun, soil nutrient, and care requirements. Planting them together will allow you to prepare the beds and care for them efficiently.
For example you can plant lettuce and spinach under and around pepper plants. Their roots won’t compete, peppers will offer the greens shade on warm days which will extend the season, and greens will provide mulch and humidity that peppers love.
Good Companions or Bad Companions?
So now that you know how companion planting works and why you it’s beneficial, how do you know what plants combinations work and which ones don’t?
For a general list of companions, download a copy of my companion planting chart. Enter your email in the form below and I’ll send it right over:
For more in depth information on companion planting with many common garden crops, check out the companion planting guides below:
Yearly Garden Planner to help you plan out each of your garden beds!Remember that companion planting takes some time to plan out, so pick up a copy of my
Have you used companion planting in your vegetable garden? Share your experience in the comments below!
© 2019, Sarah R Toney. All rights reserved.