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The Dos and Don'ts of Companion Gardening

Gardeners know that companion planting can benefit many of your individual plants, as well as the overall health of your garden. Incorporated wisely, companion planting can reduce pests, increase space in your garden, and actually make your plants more “fruitful”, thanks to their nearby friend.

Companion Gardening

Companion gardening can be useful not only in your vegetable garden, but also with full-scale fields and your flower garden. Small gardens, raised-bed gardens, wide rows, or intensive square foot gardening all make a site a good candidate for companion planting. Follow the below dos and don’ts and you’re garden/crops/flowers will be more successful than ever before.

The Dos

  1. Plant your shorter, shade-loving plants near/beneath the taller and bushier plants.
  2. Mix up your sun-loving plants by planting some on the north end and some in the south end.
  3. Plant your herbs (Non-GMO, Non Hybrid seeds) everywhere throughout your growing area. Especially good companion herbs include basil, mint, sage and dill. However, keep your dill away from your carrots!
  4. Plant French or Mexican marigold, or even cosmos, throughout the garden and around it to repel pesky pests. Many flying critters are turned off by the smell of these.
  5. Plant chives, garlic, and onions throughout your garden. Similar to marigolds, they can also be plants around the garden to repel pests as the smell aggravates and confuses them. However, do not plant any of these little guys (or any members of the allium family) near your beans.
  6. Utilize the different maturation rates of various plants. For example, lettuce, spinach, and chard can be planted early in the season in the same place where you plan on planting squash and melons later. This way, you maximize your space and your crop, and prevent weeds from creeping in.

The Don’ts

  1. As mentioned, don’t mix dill with your carrots, but also avoid putting dill near tomatoes.
  2. Don’t plant any members of the allium family (garlic, onions) near beans.
  3. Fennel is not friendly! Keep it in its own area of the garden.

Benefits of Companion Planting

Companion planting is beneficial in many ways. Insect control, by repelling naughty insects and by attracting those bigger, badder insects that eat the naughty insects, is one of the most obvious and desired effects of companion planting. Weeds are also controlled by planting your garden wisely as the density of the soil suppresses their growth.

Intercropping (two crops, same ground, same time) and sequential cropping (never leaving the ground bare) are essential in making companion planting a successful form of weed control. Companion planting also helps reduce disease/infection and increases the health of the soil, thereby increasing the health of your crops.

Companion planting is pretty easy and straight-forward, and is one of the simplest ways to encourage growth of healthy crops. By following the dos and don’ts listed above, companion planting will give you a more abundant and consistent crop yield, whether it be roses, basil, or spinach.

Image credit: Samuel Mann/Flickr

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