Tips to Start Companion Gardening

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companion planting guide for the best companion plants for your garden

What is Companion Gardening or Companion Planting?

If you’re looking to take your gardening to the next level, companion gardening (sometimes called companion planting) is a great way have a wonderful garden full of bountiful plants.

Companion planting is a method of growing plants together in a way that benefits both plants. Not only does it make your garden more beautiful and interesting, but it can also improve yields, increase growth and flavor to your food, and more!

If you are planting tree, you can check out our advice on this as well.

plants in container garden

1. What is a Companion Garden and Why Should You Start One of Your Own?

A companion garden is a garden in which two or more plants are grown together for the benefit of each plant. Companion planting is a great way to improve yields, protect against diseases, help with soil fertility and repel pests (like Japanese beetles, bean beetles, squash bugs, cabbage moths, cucumber beetles) but also attract beneficial insects ( like honey bees, butterflies and worms) to your garden.

starter tomato growth

2. How Do You Start A Companion Garden?

First decide what you want to have in your vegetable garden. Do you want beans, carrots, tomatoes, onions, etc. You then research which plants work well together and start to draw out, how you envision your garden looking. Now look at if the plants you were thinking of planting near each other, compliment one another if planted together. Now create a companion planting chart to help you rearrange your garden.

Decide if you can plant other plants within them to help plant health. Ask yourself:

Do they require the same kind of drainage?

Will the carrots (as an example) get enough sun, if planted under the tomatoes? (yes they will).

What herb deters that plants bug to improve growth and flavor of the plants?

Can you plant all the companion plants together and could they possibly keep weeds from growing up on another companion plant. As an example: Corn planted near pumpkins, pumpkin vines cover the ground and weeds don’t go grow up around the corn (or prevent a lot)

companion plants improve growth and flavor.
We planted a tomato, a marigold, then a pepper plant. As we continued this down the rows. We also had garlic planted nearby as well.

3. What are some good plants to grow together?

Some great plants for a companion garden are tomatoes and basil, carrots, onions, cabbage, and rosemary. Make sure the plants you choose will do well in the same environment and have similar needs for water and nutrients.

vegetable garden

4. How can companion gardening improve your yields?

Companion gardening can improve your yields by making better use of space, improving soil health, and attracting helpful insects. When plants are grown together, they can shade and protect each other from the sun.

The plants encourage each other to grow which improves growth and flavor of your garden yield.

companion garden tomatoes

5. What are some things to keep in mind when companion gardening?

Some things to keep in mind when companion gardening are to make sure the plants you choose will do well together, have similar water and nutrient needs, and be in a spot where they’ll get plenty of sunshine. Also, keep an eye out for helpful insects that may be attracted to your garden.

elevated raised bed

6. Companion gardening for beginners: does and don’ts

  • Find a book (or two) that explains it well for you to understand. We read and bought the book, affiliate link:  Carrots Love Tomatoes  and have marked it up and highlighted it. It provided great companion planting guidelines on working with certain plants that work together that we wanted to grow. It answers what herbs help fend off all the insect pests, what plants attract pollinators.
  • Experiment with your companion garden. We have raised beds and with the tomato plants, I have carrots, marigolds, and green peppers all in one raised bed. Our neighbor just has a row of marigolds along near their tomato plants.
  • We have raspberry plants and then strawberry plants planted in the bed as well so that it gives ground cover for less grass to grow.
lemon balm

What is the best companion plant?

To me it’s the tomato. You can almost plant an entire salad with it and it will grow well. We planted Roma tomatoes, canning tomatoes and San Marzano tomatoes together with carrots, basil and green pepper plants. Then we added in marigolds because marigold deters nematodes. We did not see any bugs on the tomato plants. The only issue we had was chipmunks.

container potato plant

7. Selecting Companion Plants

Start by making a list of plants you want in your garden. Research what plants you should plant near each other and which ones to avoid. Yes, some plants don’t produce with other nearby plants.

Some aromatic herbs might be beneficial to plant nearby. If the herbs are considered invasive, putting them in a pot or planter, but nearby may be best to prevent spreading.

To reap the benefits of companion planting, you need to do two additional things. You need to have good companion plants that what will encourage growth and flavor. You also need to have plants that will deter general garden pests.

raised bed

Do You Need to Container Garden to Do Companion Gardening?

No! You can companion plant in a traditional garden (in the ground). Containers, elevated beds or raised beds are not necessary. You can companion plant, whichever way you choose. We have found we actually pull weeds when we have raised beds.

butterflies in butterfly house

8. Do’s And Don’t of Companion planting

  • Do make a list of what you want to plant in your garden
  • Don’t forget that potatoes hate pumpkins, tomatoes, peppers, beans, onions and carrots to name a few.
  • Do plant your corn near pumpkins, pole beans (to climb on stalks), sunflowers, dill, basil and potatoes. Corn does not tomatoes.
  • Cilantro keeps away potato beetles. Garlic deter aphids. Marigold deters nematodes.
  • Do put invasive herbs into containers to keep them from taking over your garden.
  • Think about placement. Some plants need more space than others, so be sure to give them enough room to grow. You’ll also want to consider how tall the plants will get and whether they’ll need support (like pole beans). Pole beans should have a support set up or fence to lean on as they get taller.

Finally, don’t forget to water and fertilize your plants regularly. With a little care and attention, you can create a thriving garden that will provide you with fresh fruits, vegetables, and flowers all season long.

Want increased plant growth and flavor, try companion gardening. Companion plants grow while helping nearby plants around them grow too.

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