Strategically placing companion plants in your vegetable garden are a great way to let the veggies do all the work. Plants have feelings and need friends too! While I am slightly kidding, I am serious about plants having friends and supporting one another.
Companion planting is a great way to encourage positive growth in the garden for all kinds of vegetables and herbs. I’ve laid out the best companion vegetable pairs I enjoy the most and find work well each time I’ve tried.
Some people say it’s an old wives tale, but there is some science behind it. If anything, having a baseline knowledge of what vegetables grow well together will help avoid any aggressive plant growth that could choke and jeopardized an otherwise healthy plant.
Each plant has a need, and you don’t want competing needs next to each other.
Benefits to Companion Planting
There are many benefits to companion planting, the most obvious of which is that it helps to create a balanced garden. By planting different plants together, you can create a microcosm of ecosystems where each plant supports the other. This not only makes for a more beautiful garden, but it also helps to keep pests and diseases at bay.
Another benefit of companion planting is that it can help to extend the growing season. For example, if you plant garlic near your tomatoes, the garlic will help to protect the tomatoes from pests and diseases. And if you plant spinach near your strawberries, the spinach will help to keep the strawberries hidden from hungry birds.
Finally, companion planting can also be used to attract pollinators like bees and butterflies. By planting flowers like lavender and marigolds near your vegetables, you can help to increase pollination and improve yields.
Most Commonly Used Companion Plants
Hopefully I’ve already convinced you that companion planting is something you need to start incorporating in your garden ASAP! You can improve drainage, deter pests, and attract beneficial insects, all while adding interest to your garden.
Before we get to the plant pairings I love using in my garden, let’s look at some of the most commonly used companion plants and why they are used.
One of the best plants to grow for improving your soil and helping your other plants grow is green beans. Green beans are quick to grow and can easily be grown on a trellis behind other plants on the north side of your garden beds to help add nitrogen to the soil.
Bush beans also fix nitrogen and are a great choice for areas you don’t want to trellis.
Being trellised on the northern side of your garden beds will help reflect the heat of the sun back at your other plants helping keep them warmer and will also prevent them from casting shade on its neighbors. This can be particularly useful for growing things like tomatoes.
Planting these as companion plants not only allows you to help your other plants but it improves your overall yield from your garden by providing more food.
Like green beans, peas are lingams and known for being a nitrogen-fixing plant that can be grown on a trellis nearly anywhere. Like other plants in the lingam family, peas colonize the Rhizobia bacteria along with the roots of the plants which accounts for the nitrogen-fixing effect of growing this vegetable.
TIP: Choose a climbing variety to get more from your garden space.
Have some fun with them and create a beautiful focal point for your garden or yard by arching the trellis over a walkway to make a DIY Pea Tunnel.
Oats, Rye, or Winter Wheat
Planting a seasonal grass/grain in a well-loved garden bed is a great way to replenish it for future gardening seasons.
These green manures can be harvested for their grain and then tilled directly into the soil where they will break down and feed future plants in the garden bed while still providing you with a food source.
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Companion Plant Pairs to Try in Your Vegetable Garden
As you can see, companion planting is a great way to improve your overall garden productivity and health. By pairing the right plants together, you can create a self-sufficient ecosystem in which each plant supports the others. Not sure where to start? Check out these tried-and-true companion pairs for your vegetable garden!
Tomato + Basil + Lettuce
It’s cute to think they grow well together and then eventually end up in the same salad bowl!
I do like to plant tomato in the middle of the lettuce and basil, in somewhat of a triangle. Since basil doesn’t take much space, it sits nicely at the point of the triangle, closest to the edge for easy picking.
Basil is a repellent to some flies and mosquitoes, which may also help the health of your plants. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can plant chives or garlic next to the lettuce as they go well together!
Corn + Beans + Squash
This is one the OG groupings for companion plants. “The Three Sisters” is the original name for this trinity of veggies and are historically successful together.
It’s a centuries old friendship! According to the Almanac, “the plants were a gift from the Gods, always to be grown together, eaten together, and celebrated together.” The scientific reason for the success of the three sisters method is as follows.
While planting the corn in the center of the trio, this will give enough height and structure to allow the beans to climb and grow.
Radishes + Carrots
These two root vegetables are another classic pairing that complement each other’s growth. The complement is not in the providing of nutrients or other essentials, but it allows for space.
Carrots are actually really friendly too but in this example, we pair carrots with radishes. Because radishes germinate and can be harvested rather quickly, then loosen the nearby soil when pulled.
The loosened aerated soil adds more room for growth, giving carrots the opportunity to thrive.
Carrots + Onions
While we have carrots in the garden, it is now a good idea to plant onions next to them. Carrots and onions do well together as they help protect each other from bugs and flies that typically harm them.
The scent of the onion repels carrot flies. Carrots break up the soil beneath the surface, allowing onions to grow better with aerated and moister soil.
As you can see, just a few of these pairings can create a whole garden with a ton of variety. It’s important to take note of what plants can benefit from one another, and why.
If you plan your garden early this year, take the time to plot out where your plants will go, and if you can incorporate more companion plants into the garden.
Not only will this force some variety into your garden, but also give you the chance to experiment with pairings that work best for you and your needs.
While you are considering which plants to select, it’s important to note what plants do not do well together. In the examples I selected, I can note quite a few pairings that would wreak havoc on any garden and stunt growth.
Don’t Plant These Vegetables Together!
Here is a quick list of vegetables that do not grow well together:
- Carrots do not fare well next to herbs such as parsley and dill.
- Keep the onions away from beans and peas.
- Do not plant tomatoes next to cruciferous vegetables.
- Lettuce and broccoli need to be planted away from each other.
- Corn and tomatoes are not friends.
What are some of the best companion vegetable plant pairs that have worked well for you? We’d love to know – just leave us a message in the comments section below and we’ll add it to our list!
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