Companion planting is an organic gardeners best friend and secret weapon.Grab my free colour coded companion planting chart to help simplify learning and arranging plants in your garden.
Plants are a little like humans, we naturally gravitate and enjoy the company of certain people and others we just don’t care for. It is the same in nature.
Companion planting uses nutrient uptake, crop rotation, management of pests and beneficial insects to improve the health of your plants. This maximizes production and all your hard work in the garden.
Before we get to it what companion planting and why does it works so well?
WHAT IS COMPANION PLANTING?
It is the practice of planting two or more plants together to benefit one another. Some plants deposit nutrients in the soil, while others absorb that nutrient. There are plants that are very inviting to beneficial insects like pollinators, they bring in bees and butterflies to pollinate your garden completing a vital process. Some plants invite in predatory insects like ladybugs to gobble up those aphids that can wreak havoc on your precious plants.
Classic Three Sisters Method Example
This is an indigenous planting strategy where you plant corn, beans and squash together in the same bed. It can look a little wild and unruly to those that like their garden neat and orderly. Mother nature does grow in rows though and we would be wise to take note.
The corn give the beans something to climb up and support while squash grows along the ground shading the soil with their giant leaves. This helps moisture in the soil and reduces the amount of weeds that can grow.
Beans are an amazing nitrogen fixer, meaning they deposit nitrogen in the soil. This is vital to leaf grow and large hungry plants like corn and squash benefit greatly from this boost of nutrients.
This is just one example amongst many. The possibilities are endless and the options can make your head spin a little bit.
Eventually you will start to see patterns emerge in the groupings and you can use this when planting your garden each year to help speed up the process.
That is why I have created my free colour coded companion planting chart to help simplify learning and arranging plants in your garden.
BENEFITS OF COMPANION PLANTING
It promotes more diverse arrangement of plants instead of one large monoculture crop. Thinking again back to how mother grows naturally. Everything is always mixed in with each other.
It helps to reduce the spread of damaging pests, reduces the spread of disease. It can even offer protection from damaging weather.
By not grouping one crop all together in one spot your garden become much more resilient. It increases the chances of a harvest. Even if a crop fails on one spot because you have it spread out in other areas, grouped with other plants, it does not mean you will lose it all.
When you plant a monoculture type garden those beautiful neat rows become like giant landing strips for the unwanted pests to home in on.
The scent of a plant is often the main way the insects find their favourite plant. If you can mask the odour of a plant with another, it makes it much harder for them to find their target.
One of my favourites is planting Marigolds and Lavender around my brassicas to repel cabbage moths from laying their eggs. Using the strong scent of onions planted around carrots, parsnips, turnips and radish is a great way to keep away carrot rust flies.
Larger stronger plants can protect or shade others to from weather or keep them from being roasted by the sun enhancing the growth of the smaller more delicate plants. A great example is growing lettuce under a trellised cucumber. Lettuce does not appreciate being roasted all day but really enjoys a dapple shade environment.
Companion planting make amazing pest management. Certain plants are favourites of bugs and will attract them away from the key players in the garden. Calendula is a great example of this as the sticky nectar can help attract aphids away from other plants. Using Nasturtium to attract flea beetles away from any of your Brassica’s is another great trap crop planting.
The same goes for bringing in beneficial insects such as pollinators that are needed to ensure you get a good harvest of plants like pumpkins, squash and cucumbers that require external help for pollination. Plant Marigolds, Lavender, Borage, Zinnia and Calendula as a fortress around the plants that need lots of pollination and you’re golden. The bees and other pollinators can easily hop from flower to flower ensuring pollination and a resulting fruit for you to harvest.
COMPANION PLANTING CHART FREE DOWNLOAD
Use my companion planting chart to make planning your garden for a successful season efficient and simple. Most companion planting charts are complicated and will make your head spin. That is why I colour coded mine. Dark green is a giant YES to planting them next to each other as they are good pals, light green will also give you success and the reds are a hard NO.
Now that you know where everything is going to go. It is time for the fun part…. shopping! Be sure to choose the best varieties for your unique growing season using my Choose The Best Seed Variety For Success In YOUR Growing Zone & Garden blog post by clicking here.
Now let’s plant the perfect garden and make those neighbours a little jealous!
Learn More About:
- Cold Season Growing
- Compost & Vermicompost
- Food Preservation
- Harvesting Tips
- Indoor Growing
- Plant Pests
- Seed Starting
- Tool Shed