Get out there and garden!

The flowers are blooming, air is warming and you are standing there thinking how good some fresh vegetables would taste – but you don’t think you have any room in your yard for a vegetable garden.  “Besides,” you tell yourself, “they’re a whole lot of work.”

Time to rethink a vegetable garden!  Consider companion planting – the belief that certain plants in combination help each other by providing nutrients and repelling harmful insects while saving space.

Probably the best known example of companion planting is the one we all learned about in school used by Native Americans.  Referred to as “The Three Sisters”, corn, beans and squash all work together.  The corn stalk serves as a pole for the beans, the beans help to add nitrogen (needed by the corn), to the soil, and the squash provides a ground cover that helps the soil retain moisture.

“Ok,” you’re thinking, “so how does this help me?”

Many gardeners are using pots and raised beds to plant vegetables.  Why not double or triple your planting space by using companion planting?  For example, plant basil in the pot with your tomatoes.  Basil helps improve the flavor and boosts other crops, such as lettuce – and, as an added bonus, repels mosquitoes.

How do you know which to plant together and which to avoid?  Here are some common combinations to try, courtesy of  Mother Earth News, Burpee Seeds, and Rodale’s Organic Life.

Beans

  • Plant near: beets, cabbage, carrots, catnip, cauliflower, cucumbers, marigolds
  • Keep away from: fennel, garlic, leeks, onions, shallots
  • Comments: potatoes and marigolds repel Mexican bean beetles. Catnip repels flea beetles.

Broccoli and Brussels Sprouts

  • Plant near: beets, calendula, carrots, chamomile, dill, marigolds, mints, nasturtiums, onions, rosemary, sage, thyme, wormwood.
  • Keep away from: strawberries
  • Comments: marigolds repel cabbage moths. Nasturtiums repel aphids.

Cabbage and Cauliflower

  • Plant near: broccoli, brussels sprouts, celery, chard, spinach, tomatoes.
  • Keep away from: strawberries
  • Comments: tomatoes and celery repel cabbage worms.

Carrots

  • Plant near: cabbage, chives, leeks, lettuce, onions, peas, radishes, rosemary, sage
  • Comments: onions, leeks, repel carrot flies

Chives

  • Plant near: apples, berries, carrots, grapes, peas, roses (yes, roses), tomatoes.
  • Comments: Improves flavor and growth of companions. Deters aphids and Japanese beetles.

Cucumbers

  • Plant near: beans, cabbage, corn, radishes, sunflowers.
  • Comments: Radishes deter cucumber beetles

Dill

  • Plant near: broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber, lettuce, onions
  • Keep away from: carrots
  • Comments: Improves flavor and growth of cabbage family plants.

Eggplant

  • Plant near: green beans, tomatoes

Garlic

  • Plant near: cabbage, cane fruits, fruit trees, roses, tomatoes
  • Keep away from: peas, beans
  • Comments: deters Japanese beetles and aphids. A garlic oil spray deters onion flies, aphids, and ermine moths. A garlic tea helps repel late potato blight.

Kale

  • Plant near: aromatic herbs, cabbage family, marigolds, nasturtiums
  • Keep away from: pole beans, strawberries

Lettuce

  • Plant near: beets, carrots, parsnips, radishes, strawberries
  • Keep away from: cabbage family
  • Comments: lettuce tenderizes summer radishes.

Marigolds

  • Plant near: all garden crops
  • Comments: stimulates vegetable growth and deters bean beetles, aphids, potato bugs, squash bugs, nematodes, and maggots.

Nasturtiums

  • Plant near: apples, beans, cabbage family, pumpkins, radishes, squash
  • Comments: repels aphids, potato bugs, squash bugs, striped pumpkin beetles, and Mexican bean beetles

Onions

  • Plant near: beets, cabbage family, carrots, chamomile, lettuce, parsnips
  • Keep away from: beans, peas
  • Comments: deters most pests, especially maggots.

Parsley

  • Plant near: corn, roses, tomatoes

Peppers

  • Plant near: basil, carrots, eggplant, onions, parsley, tomatoes
  • Keep away from: fennel, kohlrabi

Pumpkins

  • Plant near: corn, melon, squash
  • Comments: Marigold deters beetles. Nasturtium deters bugs, beetles. Oregano provides general pest protection.

Radishes

  • Plant near: cucumbers, lettuce, melons, peas, nasturtiums, root crops
  • Keep away from: hyssop
  • Comments: radishes deter cucumber beetles.  Lettuce helps make radishes tender. Nasturtiums improve radishes’ flavor.

Squash

  • Plant near: Corn, melon, pumpkin.
  • Comments: Borage deters worms, improves growth and flavor. Marigold deters beetles. Nasturtium deters squash bugs and beetles. Oregano provides general pest protection.

Seeds, plants and gardening supplies should be readily available everywhere.  Make sure your pots are big enough to support the plants and don’t forget to add compost to “lighten” the potting soil and provide nutrients for your plants.  Make sure you are watering at the appropriate intervals and most of all, enjoy your “fresh from the garden” produce!

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