Think of companion plants as the BFFs of the vegetable garden. Good friendships are mutually-beneficial, as each person in the relationship brings something positive to the table.
Think of companion plants as the BFFs of the vegetable garden. Good friendships are mutually-beneficial, as each person in the relationship brings something positive to the table. These positive benefits make both parties happier and healthier. Something similar happens when you plan your garden to plant vegetables that can help each other near each other.
Some of the first records of companion planting practices are attributed to the Iroquois Nation's "Three Sisters" gardens. The trio of beans, corn and squash were planted together because each plant provided something the others needed: Cornstalks gave beans a pole to climb and provided shade for squash; beans fixed nitrogen in the soil for corn and squash; and squash vines and leaves served as a living mulch for the other plants.
Other common garden companions include:
- Basil: Scent deters pests and improves tomato flavor
- Sunflowers: Makes cucumbers sweeter; provides shade when planted on west end of garden; attracts birds and bees
- Radishes: Protects cucumber, lettuce, peas and squash from aphids; repels cucumber beetles and carrot flies.
- Garlic: Repels aphids; helps prevent black spot and mildew; plant with roses
- Rosemary: Scent confuses insects; attracts pollinators
- Marigold: Strong scent deters many pests; increases tomato yields; attracts pollinators
- Beans: Repels moths; attracts soil nitrogen
There are dozens of beneficial companion planting combinations that you can integrate into your garden plan. Remember though, just as there are friends who take and give nothing in return, there are also vegetables and herbs that do more harm than good when planted together.