Let’s Talk About Plant Friendships: Companion Planting

Hello reader,
It’s been unseasonably warm around here lately. To a gardener, this comes with both perks and a sense of weariness. On one hand, the days are beautiful and perfect for getting outside to enjoy sunshine and a piece of late spring weather. On the other hand, it is cause for some concern as bugs are likely to be bad this upcoming season and a healthy garden is highly dependent on both pest control and weather. Let’s hope that the weather cooperates this growing season. In the meantime, it’s a good time to start planning ahead and looking into organic pest control! Companion planting is one of the ways to implement organic pest control while also attracting pollinators to your garden. It also adds visual interest to a garden and some have said it improves flavor of the harvest when done certain ways.
Companion planting is an age old technique. One of the earliest forms that I’ve read about is the “Three Sisters” method Native Americans used. Corn would be grown with pole beans and squash. The corn provided a way for beans to climb, beans provided nitrogen to the ever hungry corn plants, and squash provided shade low to the ground that prevented weeds. Pretty clever, huh? Many gardeners still follow companion planting techniques. One commonly known friendship gardeners pair together is tomato and marigold. The marigold is supposed to be repellent to aphids, which helps tomato plants be healthier. Herbs are another good pest repellent. Dill supposedly is a deterrent that can be sprinkled throughout the garden. However, it’s said to be a good idea to keep dill away from carrots and tomatoes. While plants have friends in the garden, they also may have foes to be aware of when you plan out your garden.

Here are a few sources for a great list of companion plants and plants that don’t get along too well to help you plan:

http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/companion-planting-guide-zmaz81mjzraw

http://www.burpee.com/gardenadvicecenter/areas-of-interest/flower-gardening/companion-planting-guide/article10888.html

http://www.almanac.com/content/companion-planting-chart-plant-list-10-top-vegetables

https://www.google.com/amp/www.rodalesorganiclife.com/garden/26-plants-you-should-always-grow-side-by-side%3Famp

 

From my own experience:

In past gardens, I have found the following to do well together:

Tomato and bee balm, basil, marigold, tarragon

Pole beans and corn

Peppers and petunias

Melons and cucumbers

image

Bee balm used as companion plant a few years ago – it was probably just a few inches when planted!

 

Our 2016 garden when we used the Three Sisters Method and our first ear of corn, Silverqueen variety.

 

                                                   *        *       *

 

This year, for the 2017 growing season, here is our plan for companion planting:

Yellow Squash/Zucchini: Dill, borage, nasturtium
Tomato: Borage, basil, parsley, calendula
Carrots/Lettuce/Spinach: Chives, nasturtium
Cucumber: Dill, oregano, nasturtium
Pepper: Chamomile, dill, basil, nasturtium

All of the companion plants we are planning to grow this year are also edible. Calendula is “pot marigold”, which is supposed to be edible.
Companion planting, while not proven, has been helpful to many gardeners. Try to look at lists of commonly used pairings, but also experiment with your garden. Who knows, you may come across something that works out even better for you than what a list had provided! Each garden is unique, craft your garden!

 

 

*Remember, never eat a plant that you are not sure if it is safe to eat.

Read more about the Three Sisters Method:
http://www.almanac.com/content/three-sisters-corn-bean-and-squash

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