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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

What is Companion Planting?

What is Companion Planting?

Companion planting is little more than a general notion that certain plants can benefit others when planted in near proximity.

It is literally defined as the establishment of two or more plant species in close proximity so that some cultural benefit (pest control, higher yield, etc.) is derived. Scientifically speaking,  companion planting embraces a number of strategies that increase the biodiversity of agricultural ecosystems (or what I typically call a garden). In layman’s terms, though, it is just about two plants helping each other out somehow.

While companion planting has a long history, the mechanisms of beneficial plant interaction have not always been well understood. In most cases they are formed out of oral tradition, family secrets, and front porch recommendations. Despite historical observation and horticultural science, companion planting is practiced because they are functional methods of planting that allow veggies and herbs to grow at their maximum potential. They keep bugs away. They keep the soil healthy. And they make the food taste better.

To jump start your companion planting this year, try these ten popular companion planting suggestions.

–    Beans work with everything. Plant them next to tomatoes or spinach. They are hardy veggies and can live individually or in community.

–    Put a little horseradish near your potatoes to increase the disease resistance.

–    Summer cornfields can quickly be converted to pumpkin fields.

–    Pumpkins have traditionally been grown together with corn and pole beans by the Native Americans. This method is called the “three sisters” and is beneficial for all of them: the corn provides a good pole for the beans to grow up, the beans trap nitrogen in the soil which benefits the pumpkins, and the pumpkins provide a dense foliage and ground cover to suppress weeds and keep pests at bay.

–    Pumpkins work well as a row crop planted in close proximity to sunflowers, also a row crop.

–    Plant healthy nasturtium near your squash to help ward off squash vine borers.

–    Use sweet marjoram in your beds and gardens to sweeten the taste of vegetables and herbs.

EXTRA CREDIT: Liberally place bay leaf in any container you keep seed in to ward off weevils and moths.

Share your experience of companion planting here.

22 comments

1 Romaldo Guillen { 03.22.14 at 11:55 am }

This information is great thanks for the tips, by the way does Squash like we’ll irrigated soil?

2 Romaldo Guillen { 03.21.14 at 5:13 pm }

Excellent info Thanks.

3 regenadau { 06.17.13 at 10:55 am }

I planted snow peas (which were doing marvelous, having germinated first) but they ALL DIED? I planted them by Kale & Tomato & Squash, because of lack of space. They are shaded during the hottest part of the day.
My daddy used to have a ” companion planting guide in his ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ORGANIC GARDENING” but have lost it. Any suggestions -anyone?
Is this what happened to my peas?
I also understand about planting root crops (to save space) along with above the ground plants & did this w/my beets & Swiss Chard.
Thank you Farmer’s Almanac-know if my dad were still alive-he’d be here all day long!
Grew up on printed copies of the Farmer’s Almanac AND THIS IS SUCH A TREAT.
Peace & Plant-Regena

4 Jan Newman { 08.19.11 at 4:31 pm }

Thanks very helpful I am going to try this

5 apple lady { 08.17.11 at 3:54 pm }

This info is very helpful. Aren’t there more plants that can be helpful to each other…what about brussel sprouts? I read that dill was a good bad insect repelant around summer squashes…that was 3 years ago. Now i can’t get rid of it. The article did not tell me it was a perennial. Now i have it everywhere. Good thing i really like dill. A word to the wise, this is good if you plan to grow chukes for pickles

6 Jimmy { 06.03.11 at 9:01 am }

Good day,

Can you share some tips, on how to cultivate a successful crop of pumpkin ?

Thanks

7 Uncle B { 04.28.11 at 7:27 am }

File this info in your ‘just in case’ file! Good info and if the crunch, the one predicted by many financial experts, the crash of the U.S. dollar, ever comes, you will at least have survival information to peruse.
Newer GM variety of potato repels potato bugs as well as a host of other potato enemies. now, to get Monsanto to give us other GM veggies for our very survival when the Shiite finally hits the fan. veggies gardens will be a very popular relief to the hunger pains in those days.

8 admin { 03.22.11 at 3:59 pm }

Hi Mary,

Our Friends at Mother Earth News recently posted something similar to what you’re talking about. Click here for it.

9 MARY { 03.22.11 at 2:08 pm }

CAN YOU SEND A CHART OF WHAT VEGGIES DO GOOD TOGETHER AND WHICH ONES DON’T

10 ZandDsmom { 08.25.10 at 11:23 am }

I didn’t get this at first…but then as I was pulling these weird plants out a neighbor came over and noticed the garlic smell….and it seems that the previous owner of our house planted garlic with the roses and that may explain why the roses that I thought were tea roses are HUGE and smell wonderful!! So I re-planted all the “weeds” and the roses are just turning. They had a bumper crop too. Must work if my little tiny smelly garden is any indication.

11 Andrew Odom { 06.24.10 at 1:44 pm }

@vsp707 – shampooing with Dawn dish soap is nothing more than spraying your plants with a 1 part Dawn dish soap to 2 part water concoction. As for your beetle infestation….try spraying with Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis). They now make a strain that is specific to potato bugs.

12 vsp707 { 06.24.10 at 10:02 am }

What is shampooing with dawn dish soap. Also is there any suggestions to keep bettles off potato plants? Thanks

13 Phyllis Fox { 05.19.10 at 9:29 am }

The yards are full of clover this year, more than I have seen in many years.
Is this a sign of a weather change, etc? If not, why the increase?

14 andrewodom { 05.14.10 at 3:22 pm }

@ann – Okay, but you asked for it! *snicker, snicker*

The primary reason not to plant tomatoes and potatoes near each other is more due to Late Blight (Phytophthora infestans) as the same insect (Colorado Potato Beetle) that transmits the fungus disease will also attack tomatoes.
Tomatoes have enough problems with soil borne fungus diseases such as Fusarium and Pythium (root rot) but the Late Blight fungus can harbor in the soil longer. If the tom’s get even a whiff of Late Blight the fruit will begin rotting
within a day and the plant will be a goner within 2 days as Late Blight acts like a systemic on both plants but more so and faster on the tom’s.

15 Ann { 05.14.10 at 12:17 pm }

Is it true that planting potatoes and tomatoes next to each other can cause both to be diseased? I have heard this before, but I had forgotten about it. I planted my potatoes and tomatoes next to each other this year and my brother reminded me of this, so I planted a row of marigolds between them. I sure hope it works!

16 Susan { 05.14.10 at 10:21 am }

I always plant onions with carrots and beets. The onions repel carrot rust fly & since the onions grow up and the root crops grow down, they make great companions!

17 andrewodom { 05.14.10 at 9:08 am }

@Lynn – “along with shampooing”….I LOVE IT! Only a true gardener would know what the heck you were talking about! hahahahah

18 Lynn { 05.14.10 at 7:32 am }

I have planted regular size and giant marigolds around my entire garden – along w/shampooing w/dawn dish soap – it has made a major difference in keeping the bugs at bay!

19 Betty { 05.13.10 at 4:46 am }

I always plant marigolds with my tomatoes to ward off the tomato worms. It seems to help

20 andrewodom { 05.12.10 at 3:23 pm }

@Verna – Thank you for reading! I truly appreciate it.

@Judy – Sounds like a great pasta sauce right in one bed! I bet the tomatoes tasted better as well. I have heard that planting basil within 18 inches of your tomato plant improves the flavor of its fruit and repels a ton of insect pests.

21 Verna { 05.12.10 at 2:06 pm }

Thank you so much for the “companion planting” information! Very helpfuly.

22 Judy { 05.12.10 at 1:42 pm }

I planted sweet basil and tomatoes side-by-side last year and they both flourished!

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