Presented by Jenny Peterson for Kellogg Garden Organics
There’s a time-honored practice in organic gardening called companion planting. It’s one of the easiest and least expensive ways of ensuring plant health and vigor.
Companion planting means growing certain plants next to one another, so each provides benefits that the other one needs. Carefully chosen companion plants help repel pesky bugs, provide valuable shade and enable gardeners to use space efficiently.
Think of it as the buddy system of gardening where certain plants help keep one another safe and sound.
Check out these favorite companion planting combinations to use Mother Nature as a perfect resource for growing a healthy and happy garden.
Pair up with these 5 Favorite companion plantings:
1. Corn, beans and squash. Traditionally called the “Three Sisters planting,” these three plants create a unique relationship in which they all benefit. As the corn stalk grows tall, beans use it as a support. The beans, in turn, provide nitrogen in the soil for the corn while the rapidly-growing squash creates valuable shade and helps block out weeds.
2. Tomatoes and cabbage. Diamondback moth larvae love to set up a buffet on the leaves of cabbage plants — not so great if you really love cabbage. But plant tomatoes next door, and the pesky bugs are repelled and the cabbage is protected.
3. Roses and garlic: Got roses? Plant some garlic or garlic chives nearby and see how rose pests are deterred. An added benefit? The charming purple or white springtime flowers of garlic chives look great with the larger rose blooms.
4. Cabbage and dill. Dill is a great companion for not only cabbage but broccoli as well. While the cabbage or broccoli lends support to the often-floppy dill plant, the dill repays the favor by attracting beneficial wasps that prey on cabbage worms and other bad bugs.
5. Lettuce and tall flowers. Lettuce does best with a bit of light shade, so planting it with tall flowers is not only beautiful but practical. Look for cleome, nicotiana, tall zinnias or any other leggy beauty recommended for your area.
Marigolds have long been recommended as bad bug busters in the vegetable garden, but the evidence tells a different story. While it’s true that some types of scented marigolds may deter garden pests like beetles, research shows that they are more successful at affecting the nematode population in the soil.
Nematodes are organisms that destroy the root system of plants, so while it would seem like a great idea to plant marigolds as a defense, this process can take several months to kick into gear. During that time, marigolds’ penchant for drawing in spider mites could do more damage than you were hoping to avoid. It’s better to use other, more successful, organic methods to keep the bad bugs at bay!