How to Start Vegetable Companion Planting

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A few plants do better when planted together. Because of that, this simple gardening technique will have you enjoying a harvest you’ve only ever dreamed of.One of the best examples of companion planting is the Three Sisters method, according to the Master Gardners of San Diego County. Early American colonists saw Native Americans plant corn, squash, and pole beans in one plot. Europeans, on the other hand, would plant each of these plants separately in their gardens. These three plants can be planted together to conserve space and benefit each other.

  • Corn provided support for the bean vines as they grew.
  • Beans, which have symbiotic bacteria on their roots, are “nitrogen fixers” and added this essential macronutrient back into the soil for the benefit of other plants, especially the corn.
  • The squash leaves provided shade and increased soil moisture retention while discouraging pests with their prickly leaves.
  • This diversity helps every crop reach its maximum potential. If you’re looking to find your plant a companion, don’t worry — you’re not limited to these three sisters.Deciding which plants go together is no sweat at all. You just need to do some research. Refer to this helpful companion planting chart for an in-depth look at all the plants that you should and shouldn’t plant together.Marigolds and tomatoes make the best neighbors when companion planting. (vandervelden/Getty Images Signature).

    Companion Planting Do’s

    The most grown crops — tomatoes, corn, beans and squash — go great together.Planting marigolds and tomatoes in close proximity helps repel predatory bugs that like eating tomatoes and spreading blight.Squash and corn go great together because corn provides some necessary afternoon shade to the growing squash.Beans and corn also make a perfect pair because the corn acts as a natural trellis for the beans — giving them a structured place to grow upward and climb!Some plants don’t make great neighbors, so refer to this guide when choosing which plants to pair. (Dcwcreations/Getty Images)

    Companion Planting Don’ts

    While planting certain plants together does help growth, some plants are bullies towards others — acting just like the nasty bugs, weeds and soil disease that are also trying to harm your plants.For example, planting garlic and onions near beans is a big no-no. Both absorb nutrients from the soil that will stunt — and inevitably kill — the beans. These pests can be a nuisance and could cause damage to your precious produce. (PaulReevesPhotography/Getty Images)

    Tips for Deterring Pests

    Pam Zaklan, a Master Gardener at Oregon State University Extension Service, shares these tips with those who wish to prevent pests from entering their companion planting garden.

  • Use Four O’clock flowers to attract Japanese beetles out of roses.
  • You can plant mustard to repel the cabbage worms or harlequin bug from cabbages, broccoli and cauliflower.
  • Garlic repels rabbits and other pests such as cabbage looper (aphids), tree borers, codeling moths or Japanese beetles), codling moths/moths, Japanese beetles/snails, Japanese beetles and snails. What’s more, it’s especially beneficial when planted near, roses, cucumbers, peas, lettuce or celery.
  • To attract and repel white cabbage butterflies, beetles (ants, moths), black fleabeetles, black flea beetles as well, peppermint, white cabbage butterflies, cabbage maggots, spidermint, and mosquitoes, plant spearmint. Avoid planting mint in close proximity to parsley. Place mints in pots as they are easy to get outof control.
  • To combat squash bugs, grow mint, chives garlic, onion and nasturtiums near or among winter squash vines.
  • Watch this Backyard Smart video to learn about companion planting and take your first steps into a wider world of gardening.The more you fall in love with having a great backyard, the more you realize how much you don’t know. Exmark’s Backyard Smart answers the lawn-and-garden questions homeowners are looking for.

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