Guide to companion planting

Companion planting is a subject which has always interested me since I first started gardening in an allotment.  Whether you plant onions with carrots to prevent carrot fly or nasturtiums with courgettes to encourage pollination, it makes far more sense to plant in a natural way than to use chemicals and other unnatural deterrents to ensure your crops thrive.

I’m always interested to learn more about all forms of gardening, so when I received this guide – The Complete Guide into the World of Companion Planting from First Tunnels, I thought I’d take some of the information I found most interesting to share on my blog.  So here goes… If you would like to find out more and read the full guide, please click on the above link.

WHAT IS COMPANION PLANTING?

Companion planting has been defined as the planting of two or more crop species so you get excellent cultural benefits such as higher yields and pest control. Scientists say that it embraces various strategies that increase the plant’s biodiversity in all agricultural ecosystems. In layman’s language, it involves two plants helping each other to grow.

WHY IS COMPANION PLANTING SIGNIFICANT?

Many benefits come with companion planting, including improved taste, higher yields and pest control.  The so-called ‘three sisters method’ involves planting corn for trellises, and after the corn has grown to just a few inches, adding beans and squash.  The idea is that the bean seeds feed the corn with nitrogen and provide shades for the roots. The corn, on the other hand, provides the beans and squash with something easy for climbing. They repel pests and encourage good growth too.

Companion planting supports plant diversity, which is beneficial to the soil, the ecosystem, and the gardener. Plant diversity provides us with insect diversity and decreases the number of parasites that may eat or damage your plants.

It also saves on space. A good example is if you want to plant potatoes, beans, and maize, then you don’t have to use up a considerable portion of your garden. It will be more straightforward and far much beneficial if you could plant these three together – using all of the space above and below the soil to do so.

Companion planting assists with pollination, control of pests and helps you to make the best use of your gardening space. All these factors eventually help to increase crop productivity.

WHAT SHOULD YOU PLANT TOGETHER?

Through the centuries, we’ve cultivated our gardens and noticed those plants that grow well together  Here’s some information about a lot of plants you can grow in your garden or allotment.

VEGETABLES

Artichoke
Here is an architectural type of plant that offers shade and form to your vegetable plot. It’s not a delicate plant to grow, and you can plant it together with crops such as Tomatoes, carrots, and beans.

Asparagus
Asparagus is a perennial crop that is perfect for companion planting. You can grow it together with plants such as parsley and tomatoes.

Beetroot
Beetroot is a crop which is best for companion planting as it does not take up too much space. You can grow it together with plants such as Broccoli, beans, cabbage, lettuce, onions and brassicas, and passion fruits.

Broad Beans
Beans, like all other Legumes, are perfect for adding nitrogen to the soil. They can easily be planted together with maize, potatoes, celery, cucumber, and soybeans.

Broccoli and Calabrese
One of the best things about companion planting is that you can grow brassicas at any time of the year. You can plant it together with onions, beets, cereals, and potatoes.

Brussel Sprouts
Wondering which plants you should grow your Brussel sprouts with? We found that they go well with sage, thyme, malting barley, and clover.

Cabbage
Cabbage is a common vegetable. It helps in adding a great taste to your food as well as in improving the process of digestion. It’s also easy to plant, and it grows well with other vegetables such as celery and beans.

Carrots
The carrot plant is another beautiful vegetable which helps in adding a creamy taste to food. It’s also recommended to people suffering from eyesight problems. To get the best out of your carrot plantation, you can grow it together with other vegetables such as leeks, onions, tomatoes, and alliums.

Cauliflower
Grow your cauliflower together with plants such as celery, spinach, peas, and beans!

Celeriac
Celeriac, unlike other vegetables, is not a natural plant to grow. It requires rich water-retentive and fertile soils. Grow it together with other herbs such as brassicas, cucumbers and bush beans to get high yields.

Celery
We all love to add celery to our foods. But what makes the plant so rich in taste? Well, you only need to grow it in your polytunnel with other crops such as bush beans, cucumbers, and brassicas.

Courgette
Your Courgette needs a lot of pollinators. As such, one of the best plants to grow together with your Courgette is the Nasturtiums.

Fennel
Fennel is merely the name given to two closely related crops. These are the herb fennel and the Florence fennel. You can grow it together with vegetables which need ample shade such as your summer salads.

Garlic
Do you enjoy tasting garlic in your food? You can grow it together with lettuce, celery, peas, potatoes, and cucumbers!

Kale
This is one of the most common vegetables. You can plant it together with other vegetables and fruits such as cabbages, tomatoes, cauliflower, and passion fruits.

Mushrooms
These are some of the oldest plants. They can grow almost anywhere but to get the best out of your mushrooms; you need to choose the right companion plant. They go well with vegetables such as turnips, Brussels sprouts, turnips and fruit trees as well as cabbages.

Onion (bulbing)
You can plant your onions with different kinds of vegetables. Some good examples here include broccoli, carrots, lettuce, cucumbers, peppers, passion fruits, and cabbages.

Pak Choi
This type of vegetable requires high levels of nitrogen in the soil. Therefore, you should plant it together with plants such as beans and peas. To repel pests, you could also use onions or garlic!

Parsnip
From the scientific name Pastinaca Sativa, it grows correctly with different fruit trees.

Peas and Mange Tout
They grow well with plants such as turnip, cauliflower, garlic, and brassicas. Here, it’s important to remember the role peas plants take in adding Nitrogen into the soil!

Potatoes
These plants are the most common legumes. They help in adding a different taste while making stew. You can also boil and eat them as either mashed potatoes or as a jacket potato. They grow together with beans, corn, passion fruits, and brassicas.

Radish
Growing radishes is easy, and you can use eggplants, cucumbers, lettuce, peas, pole beans and common beans. All these companion plants help in producing high yields and adding great taste to your crop!

Spinach and Swiss Chard
These two plants are a great addition to your garden. They both produce large green leaves which are added into salads and a variety of tasty recipes. You can grow your spinach and Swiss chard together with passion fruits, cauliflower, and brassicas.

Runner Beans
If you are planning to grow some runner beans, then you should consider planting them with plants such as strawberries, radishes, and celery.

Sweet Potatoes
You can plant your sweet potatoes together with beans, corn or even peas.

Turnips
Turnips grow correctly with plants like broccoli and peas.
FRUIT

There are also different fruit which grow well once planted together with other crops. You can learn about them by simply looking at the table below:

  Types of Fruits   Companion Plants
  Apricot   Chives, garlic, leeks, nasturtium, and daffodils
  Aubergines   Potatoes and tomatoes
  Blackberries   Strawberries, pine trees, oak trees, yarrow and dewberries
  Cape Gooseberries   Yarrow, pine and oak trees
  Cucumber   Beans and peas
  Figs   Lemon balm, dandelions, borage, mustards, marigold
  Grapes   Chives, geraniums, mustards, oregano, peas, clover and blackberries.
  Kiwi Fruit   Carrots, swiss chard, carrots, spinach
  Melon   Pigweed, chamomile, summer savoury, sow thistle
  Citrus Fruits   Yarrow, dill, fennel and lemon balm
  Peach   Basil, tansy, southernwood
  Peppers and chillis   Alliums, basil
  Pineapples   Clover, chives, garlic, southernwood, daffodils
  Raspberries   Tansy
  Squash   Corn, beans, okra
  Strawberries   Bush beans, lettuce, onions, passion fruits and spinach
  Sweetcorn   Squash, pumpkins, pole beans
  Tomatoes   Cabbage, broccoli, roses, peppers, asparagus

 

HERBS AND SPICES

These plants are also good when it comes to companion planting. You can grow them together with different fruits and vegetables.

  Spices and Herbs   Companion Plants
  Basil   Tomato, oregano, pepper, petunias, grapes
  Chamomile   Most herbs, cucumber, onion, cabbage
  Chervil   Radish, broccoli, lettuce
  Chives   Roses, apples, carrots and grapes
  Cumin   Cucumbers, potatoes, cabbages
  Curry leaves   Tomatoes, onions and garlic
  Comfrey   Nutrient accumulators or mulch
  Coriander   Chervil, anise, cabbages and carrots
  Dill   Coriander, cabbages, carrots and anise
  Lavender   Lettuce, onions, tomatoes, oregano, sage, rosemary, basil, lemon
  Lemon balm   Eggplant
  Mint   Eggplant, lettuce, peas, broccoli
  Mustard   Carrots, corn, cucumbers
  Mizuna and Mibuna   Beetroot and beans
  Oregano   Peppers, pumpkin, grapes
  Parsley   Apple, asparagus, corn, tomatoes
  Rosemary   Beans, brassicas, and carrots
  Saffron   Sea holly, lanceolate leaves and Chinese chives
  Sage   Rosemary, cabbages, beans
  Sorrel   Strawberries, cabbage and tomatoes
  Tarragon   Eggplants and most vegetables
  Thyme   Cabbage, potato, strawberries and Brussels sprouts
  Yarrow   Aromatic plants

 

FLOWERS

Do you have a flower garden or are you thinking of starting one? If so, with the right companion plants, you can easily make an attractive and healthy garden. Start by checking out this list of good companion crops for your flowers:

  Flowers   Companion Plants
  Antirrhinum   Grapes and lettuce
  Azalea   Kalmia latifolia, pieris japonica
  Borage   Squash, tomatoes and strawberries
  Calendula   Mint and sage
  Canna   Strawberries
  Celosia   Petunia, ageratum and marigold
  Dahlia   Agapanthus, alstroemeria, anthemis tinctoria
  Fuchsia   Torenia and begonias
  Marigolds   Pepper, gourds, roses, alliums, brassicas, zucchini
  Maurandya   Lavender, wormwood, sage, thyme
  Menconopsis   Cimicifuga, variegated Solomon’s seal and under ferns
  Nasturtium   Beans, brassicas, cucumbers, fruit trees and tomatoes
  Pelargonium   Marigolds, lavender, geraniums and yarrow
  Sunflower   Squash and cucumber
  Sweet Peas   Alyssum. Lobelia, roses, catmint and lavender
  Wallflower   Garlic, sweet woodruff and garlic

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article.  If you have any other top tips for companion planting, please get in touch via nicola@thebonniegardener.co.uk

Happy gardening!

N x

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