Companion Planting

Backyard Garden

Consider companion planting when designing your garden. Your plants share soil. Some work well together; some don't. Some plants even attract beneficial insects to protect other plants from harmful bugs.

Think in Levels

When you're planting your garden, maximize your growing space and minimize the work by thinking of multiple levels:

  • root (underground)
  • surface
  • climbing
  • tall

By combining two, three or even four of these different-leveled plants, you grow a minimum of double the plants in the same space ... and you can reap at least double the rewards! Plus tall and climbing plants will shade surface plants. Surface plants will help retain moisture for root vegetables.

Beans

Pole beans grow as a vine and need support. Beans grow well with corn (which will act as a trellis), carrots (root vegetable) and summer savory (surface herb). Do not grow beans with tomatoes, chili peppers, onion, garlic, cabbage or broccoli.

Beets

Beets are a root vegetable. Beets grow well with lettuce, onions, garlic, broccoli and cabbage. Beets do not grow well with pole beans as they stunt each others' growth.

Broccoli

Broccoli is part of the brassica family, which includes cauliflower, cabbage and brussel sprouts. Broccoli grows well with potatoes, grains such as corn and wheat, and alliums such as onions and garlic. Broccoli will not grow well with tomatoes or peppers.

Cabbage

Like broccoli, cabbage is a member of the brassica family. It, too, will grow well with potatoes, grains and alliums. Members of the nightshade family, such as tomatoes and peppers, should be avoided.

Carrots

Carrots grow well with tomatoes, lettuce and alliums - plant your salad in one pot! For best results, do not plant carrots with radishes, dill or parsnips.

Celery

Celery can be difficult to grow, depending upon your location. Try growing celery with tomatoes, green beans, peas, cabbage, or alliums such as onions or garlic. Do not plant celery with corn.

Corn

Corn is a staple in the Midwest, where I grew up. Once I was in my 20's, I had enough farmer friends that I didn't have to worry about where my sweet corn would come from.

Corn is a natural trellis for vine veggies such as pole beans or peas, grows well with sunflowers, squash, melons and cucumber. Do not plant tomatoes or celery with corn.

Cucumber

Is there anything better than cucumber salad with fresh tomatoes, onion, dill and some vinegar, oil, salt and sugar? For best companion planting, pair cucumbers with radishes, sunflowers, peas, beets, carrots or dill. Do not plant sage or tomatoes with your cucumber.

Eggplant

Eggplant is a member of the nightshade family, along with tomatoes, chili peppers, bell peppers, and potatoes. Eggplant will grow well with peppers, tarragon and mint. Avoid beans, corn, dill, and brassicas such as cabbage and broccoli.

Lettuce

There are many types of lettuce you can grow in your garden. Consider planting radishes, beans or carrots with your lettuce. Avoid celery, cabbage, and parsley.

Onion

Onion is another allium, along with garlic, chives and shallots. Onion will grow well with tomatoes and brassicas such as broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and cabbage. Plant beans, peas and parsley away from your onions.

Peppers

Peppers like high humidity and sunlight, although their fruit can be harmed by too much light. To make your peppers happy, consider companion planting with other peppers, tomatoes, geraniums, basil and/or marjoram. Keep away from beans, cabbage, and brussel sprouts.

Potatoes

Beans, cabbage, horseradish and and corn grow well with potatoes. Avoid carrots, cucumbers, onions, squash, sunflowers and tomatoes.

Radish

Radishes will grow well when planted with squash, cucumber, eggplant or lettuce.

Squash

Pumpkins and other squash can be grown using companion planting. Try corn, beans, and/or radishes.

Tomatoes

Part of the nightshade family, pay close attention to what you plant with your tomatoes. Choose asparagus, peppers, basil, carrots, and/or any type of onion or chive. Avoid beets, potatoes, dill, corn, cabbage, broccoli, rosemary and peas.

Plan It Before You Plant It

Using this companion planting guide, plan out which fruits and vegetables you will plant together. Below I have listed some examples of companion planting that make the most of your garden space by growing on multiple levels.

Root: Onion

Surface: Broccoli

Tall: Tomato

Root: Radish

Surface: Squash

Climbing: Bean

Tall: Corn

Root: Carrot

Surface: Lettuce

Climbing: Peas

Tall: Corn

Root: Potato

Surface: Cauliflower

Climbing: Bean

These are just a few examples of multi-level companion planting. Let your imagination be your guide, just keep in mind the guidelines from above.



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