When planning out your edible garden, taking the time to consider plant compatibility can make a huge difference to your garden’s success. Companion planting is all about maximizing the outcome of your garden by carefully selecting plants that grow well together. With a little research, it’s easy to get amazing results.
What are the benefits of companion planting?
Companion planting has huge a range of benefits, including:
- Pest control – Some flowers attract pests (thus keeping them away from other crops) and others repel them
- Shade – Many tall plants such as sunflowers or corn provide much needed shade for other more delicate plants like lettuce which can become overheated in the hot summer sun
- Pollination – Some plants such as borage attract bees which is helpful for crops that rely on pollination to thrive such as tomatoes.
- Conserving water – By planting crops together that have similar water needs, you’ll be able to make the most of every precious drop of water that goes into your garden.
Successful companion planting
The following are some examples of plants that grow well together:
- Planting mint close to tomatoes, cabbage or peas will improve their flavour
- Planting basil near tomatoes brings out the flavour in the tomatoes
- Planting sage near beans deters many bean parasites
- Chives grow very well next to carrots and tomatoes
- Rosemary is an excellent companion for carrots, beans and cabbage
- Sage is great next to any plant from the brassica family, as well as beans and cucumbers
- Nasturtium flowers attract aphids away from other crops
- Marigolds repel unwanted whitefly pests
- Plants such as zucchini, squash and cucumbers all require similar water needs so planting them together is a great idea.
- Planting mint near lettuce will keep away the slugs that feed on lettuce leaves
Plants that don’t grow well together
Some plants just don’t enhance each other, for a variety of reasons. Here are a few examples
- Avoid planting basil near cabbage, it will lower the yield
- Keep dill away from fennel and carrots, it will cross pollinate
- Don’t grow celery anywhere near melons or cucumbers
- Sage, peas, beans and asparagus shouldn’t be placed near onions
- Cucumbers choke when planted near potatoes
Keep your own records
As with any garden project, you’ll get the most out of it by keeping your own records about what works well and what doesn’t. It’s a good idea to track your progress and make notes from season to season. These notes then become a handy reference to look back on, to remember which plants give the most benefit together. To allow for maximum plant health, rotate your crops from year to year. Importantly, some plants can’t be placed in the same soil where other plants grew the year before, so your notes and pictures will be your best reference point. Good luck!