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Companion planting: pair vegetables with flower and herbs!

Companion vegetables

When plants live as neighbors, they’re just like us: often, they really help each other out, but sometimes they just can’t stand each other! Check this list of how to pair vegetables to make sure relationships in your vegetable patch are worthy of Mr Roger’s neighborhood! That’s the art of companion planting.

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Pairing plants that are friends

Companion planting, or associating plants, means growing several different species of plants in the same place at the same time. This technique is part of a wider gardening concept called permaculture.

It’s an alternative to how farmers of the past few generations have been growing things. The aim is to respect the environment while still producing excellent produce that is healthy for us to eat.

Garden companions work togetherPesticides don’t have a say here at all, of course! Companion planting comes as a very precious help to get rid of chemical pesticides. Some plants are indeed capable of repelling pests, and others help prevent the spread of diseases. Furthermore, many plants actually enrich the soil they grow on: perfect to fuel other nutrient-hungry vegetables!

Two types of companion planting

  • Basket with many plantsThe allelopathic phenomenon: This is the sum of beneficial and detrimental effects of plants on each other.
  • Space allocation and intercropping: this relates to how plants can complement each other as they spread and utilize space. For instance, asparagus grows tall leaves that provide shade for smaller veggies that can’t take full sun. On a time scale, it is possible to sow fast-growing radishes together with other slower plants. Radish will be ready for harvest by the time the slower growers get larger. They won’t compete for nutrients at all.

The 3 sisters

The three sisters are the most famous example of companion plantingDefinitely one of the most famous companion plant combinations! The Aztecs pioneered this technique in the Americas. It pairs together corn, beans, and squash (originally the Cucurbita maxima species).

  • Corn grows into a tall stake-like shape that is perfect for a climbing bean stalk or two to latch on to.
  • Bean, as it develops, absorbs nitrogen from the air and releases it in the ground.
  • The third sister, squash, keeps the soil cool thanks to its wide leaves.

This brilliant combination takes the advantages of each plant and merges them together on the same plot of soil.

Best companion plant combinations

Here is a list of companion plants, and also a list of those that shouldn’t be planted near each other. Of course, these are only the most common combinations. There are many more to discover and experiment with.

These include the most common vegetables, herbs and flowers

Plant Favorable companion plants Detrimental companion plants
Garlic Peach tree, apple tree, pear tree, plum tree, chicory, Jerusalem artichoke, tomato, strawberry, raspberry, rose tree Cabbage, potato, bean, pea, cabbage, artichoke, asparagus, marigold
Artichoke Cabbage, lettuce, spinach, parsley, nasturtium Garlic
Asparagus Potato, cucumber, pickle, parsley, leek, pea, squash, basil, nasturtium, tomato Mint, red beet, chard, chicory, onion, garlic, chives
Eggplant Marigold Potato
Basil Tomato, chili, cucumber, pickle, squash, cantaloupe, cabbage, broad bean, zucchini, fennel, asparagus Rue, absinthe
Chard (or Swiss chard) Supposedly, this plant doesn’t make for good companion planting, but it’s still worth testing in your vegetable patch.
Red beet Lettuce, celery, coriander, parsnip Tomato, asparagus, spinach, leek
Nasturtium Apple tree, radish, broccoli, bean, artichoke
Cardoon Pair this one with short lead time crops such as radish or lettuce by sowing them at the same time.
Carrot Leek, garlic, onion, shallot, chives, red beet, pea, radish, lettuce, arugula, parsnip, tomato, bean, salsify, chili Dill, corn, chard
Celery Leek, cabbage Corn, parsley, lettuce
Chicory, curly endive and escarole Spinach, arugula, marigold Brussels sprouts, asparagus, turnip
Cabbage Dill, celery, bean, mustard, rosemary, tomato, absinthe, cosmos, medicinal sage, thyme, bean, lettuce, spinach, marigold, nasturtium escarole, zucchini, watercress, fennel, corn salad, corn, radish, leek, strawberry, oregano, chili
Chives Carrot, apple tree, peach tree, red currant, black currant, rose tree, strawberry, cucumber, squash Asparagus, radish, bean
Cucumber and pickle Bean, corn, pea, asparagus, celery, cabbage Fennel, leek, lettuce, escarole, melon, turnip
Squash Corn, bean, asparagus, celery, cabbage, lettuce, corn salad, pea, onion, basil, chives, coriander, oregano, nasturtium Radish, fennel
Zucchini Basil, nasturtium Cauliflower, radish, cucumber
Shallot Carrot Bean, pea
Spinach Cabbage, rose tree, artichoke, chicory, strawberry, bean, turnip, salsify, radish Jerusalem artichoke, sunflower, red beet, chard, fennel
Fennel Knob celery (or celeriac), leek, basil Tomato, absinthe, cucumber, chili, spinach, bean, pattypan squash, marigold, turnip, cabbage, coriander
Broad bean Cabbage, potato, corn, lettuce, savory, basil Onion
Strawberry Leek, garlic, chives, onion, peach tree, spinach, lettuce, corn salad, turnip, bean Cabbage
Bean Corn, pumpkin, melon, watermelon, carrot, celery, cabbage, cucumber, potato, spinach, lettuce Leek, garlic, shallot, onion, chives, fennel, pea, zucchini
Lettuce Cabbage, carrot, onion, cardoon, pea, red beet, squash, broad bean, strawberry, melon, bean, turnip, leek, artichoke Cucumber
Corn Red beet, bean, pea, pumpkins and squash Lettuce, onion
Melon Watermelon
Turnip Wild chicory, spinach, strawberry Curly endive, escarole, savory, fennel
Onion Carrot, lettuce, corn salad, radish Bean, pea
Parsnip Radish, red beet, kohlrabi, white onion Lettuce
Watermelon Melon, bean, tomato, cabbage
Sweet potato Bell pepper, chili
Chili Basil, carrot, marjoram, oregano Fennel, kohlrabi, sweet potato
Leek Carrot, celery, strawberry, asparagus, lettuce, corn salad, tomato, fennel, artichoke Chard, red beet, cabbage, bean, parsley, pea
Pea Potato, coriander Onion, garlic, shallot, leek, parsley
Chick pea Corn, squash (Cucurbita pepo)
Bell pepper Onion (to be checked) Solanaceae (nightshade family)
Potato Asparagus, German chamomile, nasturtium, celery, Brussels sprouts, head cabbage, garlic chives, coriander, broad bean, bean, pea, radish, marigold Walnut, sunflower
Squash (especially the Cucurbita maxima family) Corn, bean
Radish Watercress, chervil, parsnip, carrot, pea, cucumber, pickle, spinach, bean, kohlrabi, potato, tomato, onion Chives, cabbage
Arugula Red beet, carrot, curly endive and escarole
Tomato Mexican marigold, French marigold, cosmos, German chamomile, cabbage, geranium, watermelon, cucumber Potato, sunflower
Jerusalem artichoke Should mostly be planted on its own

Smart tip about companion planting

Blending flowers, shrubs and vegetables together in growing beds is a great way to observe how nature works.

And it’s beautiful, too!

Companion plants like cabbage and herbs

Images: 123RF: Marilyn Barbone, CC BY 2.0: Chris Feser, Rob and Stephanie Levy, CC BY-SA 2.0: Michael Stange; Public Domain: U.S. Department of Agriculture
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