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Companion Planting: Establishing A Harmonious Vegetable Garden

Written by Paige Vandiver

Plants are like people – some are good friends that build each other up, support one other, and share their sustenance to help the other grow. While some plants get along swimmingly, some just rub each other the wrong way, steal food from their neighbors, and attract pests.

For centuries, companion planting has been practiced to improve the yields of fruits and vegetables, deter common pests that damage or kill your plants, and even make your garden more colorful and attractive to pollinators.

What is Companion Planting?

Companion planting means to grow certain vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers next to each other that will allow them to reap the benefits of one another as they live in sweet harmony together.

By designing your garden in a way that combines plants that will give back instead of taking from one another, you’ll find yourself with a healthy, happy vegetable garden and a large stash of fresh, delicious produce!

Common Examples of Companion Planting

The tried and true example of traditional companion planting is corn, beans, and squash – commonly known as “The Three Sisters”. You’ll see this illustration in almost every guide on companion planting. Indigenous communities cultivated these veggies together because they each brought their own special and complementary qualities to help one another. The corn grows tall and gives the beans a place to climb. The beans provide necessary nitrogen to the soil, and in turn, the substantial leaves of the squash would provide shade to the soil, protecting the soil from pests and allow it to maintain its nutrients.

Lucky for us tomato lovers, tomato plants get along with many other plants and herbs. Basil or garlic planted near your tomatoes have been shown to both repel common insects – and basil can even improve the flavor of your tomatoes. Tomatoes are also a great companion for asparagus, as they will deter the pesky asparagus beetle. 

Marigolds are Pure Magic! 

Marigolds are not only beneficial for many vegetables in your garden, they also look beautiful interspersed between your vegetable plants. Marigolds deter many garden pests by hiding the scent of your tomatoes (tomatoes + french marigolds = true love), cabbage, broccoli, and squash. They also attract bees and other pollinators, are super low-maintenance, and will spread in your vegetable garden like the weeds you actually want (no pulling necessary!). AND SUPER BONUS: You’ll love all the butterflies that will be attracted to your garden when you plant marigolds!

From our ole faithful TROY-BILT gardening guide – complete with dilapidated, yellowing pages that let you know it’s the real deal – here is a handy table of some common vegetables and their trusty garden sidekicks and dastardly enemies: 

PlantDoes Well Near…Prefers Not To Be Close To
AsparagusBasil, Tomatoes, ParsleyGarlic, Onions
BeansCabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Corn, Cucumbers, Eggplants, Parsnips, Potatoes, StrawberriesBeets, Cabbages, Onions, Kohlrabi
BrocolliBeets, Carrots, Celery, Cucumbers, Kale, Lettuce, Onions, Potatoes, SpinachBeans, Tomatoes, Strawberries
CabbageSee “Broccoli.”See “Broccoli.”
CarrotsBush beans, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Tomatoes, Onions, Leeks, Peppers, Leaf Lettuce, Red RadishesPole Beans, Strawberries
CornBeans, Peas, Early Potatoes, Cucumbers, Cantaloupes, Squash, Cabbage, Leaf Lettuce, Red RadishesNo Known Aversions
CucumbersBeans, Peas, Corn, Tomatoes, Cabbage, Lettuce, RadishesPotatoes
EggplantsBeans, PeppersNo Known Aversions
Onions/GarlicBeets, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Lettuce, Parsnips, Peppers, Strawberries, Tomatoes, TurnipsBeans, Peas, Asparagus
PeasBeans, Carrots, Celery, Corn, Cucumbers, Potatoes, Radishes, TurnipsOnions, Garlic
PeppersCarrots, Eggplants, Onions, Parsnips, TomatoesNo Known Aversions
PotatoesBeans, Cabbage, Corn, Peas, Horseradish, Eggplant, Parsnips, Raspberries, RutabagasCucumbers, Pumpkins, Tomatoes, Turnips
PumpkinsCorn, Eggplants, RadishesPotatoes
TomatoesAsparagus, Carrots, Celery, Cucumbers, Onions, PeppersCabbage, Kohlrabi, Potatoes

When visiting Stockslagers to pick out your vegetables and flowers for your garden this spring, keep companion planting in mind. And don’t forget the marigolds!

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