Even Vegetables Need Friends
Companion planting can be very beneficial to your plants in some cases. If you are growing your garden inside your house, it won’t do much for you. If like me, however, you grow semi-inside, it can be of enormous value. Remember in school when one kid got picked on a lot and eventually an unusually mature schoolmate would come along to protect him, preventing at least some of the abuse the other kid was bound to continue getting? Well, that is what companion planting is for. A good example is Basil. If you grow Basil next to your Tomato plant(s), it will help to repel Mosquitoes, Flies and Hornworms. Borage can be planted near Tomatoes, Squash and Strawberries to repel Tomato Worms. I have a roof over my garden, but not solid walls around it. Last year, my cumber plants were attacked by what I believe is called the Cucumber worm. Little green worms about an inch long that blend in perfectly with the underneath side of a Cucumber leaf. I looked and looked before I ever saw them, but once I did I was amazed at how many there were. I picked them off one by one and destroyed them. After that, I paid even more attention to the Cucumber plants as well as everything else I was growing. This year I only have one Cucumber plant growing, but I have a Watermelon plant on the left and a Lettuce plant on the right. I don’t think there is any benefit to having the Watermelon there, but according to the list I have, the Lettuce could have prevented some of my problems last year. Also good for Cucumbers is Cabbage, Corn, Marigolds, Onions, and Radishes. I had a Sweet Pepper plant next to my Cucumber plants last year, and those worms destroyed it so fast I thought some kind of bird was invading my farm. That is a Hornworm to the right, if you’re curious.
How To Figure It Out
If you’re not familiar with Pinterest, it might be a good idea to check it out. There are plenty of companion planting charts and lists you can check out there. If you click on that link we just passed, it’ll take you to a colorful chart that you might find helpful. There are lists that are much more in depth, but this one is a good start. It’s important to find a chart that not only tells you which bugs or diseases are prevented or deterred, but also which plants just don’t do well together. For instance, we love to grow Sugar Snap Peas. Chives will deter Aphids, Mint will improve taste and health, but Garlic and Onion will stunt the growth of the pea. We can’t have that!
Mix and Match
Over the years I have met people who may have randomly planted some things together and come out on the sweet end of it all. If you go through the list and find a couple of varieties that don’t line up good or bad, that don’t show as being helpful or harmful to one another, but are complete opposites, you might want to experiment. Melons and Peppers aren’t mentioned together anywhere that I can see, so if you plant them beside each other, especially in soil, the Peppers may come out sweeter. Of course, it’s possible that a Watermelon might be much spicier as well.
So, when all is said and done, you should not deny your vegetables and fruit friends. The why of companion planting is to save your plants lives and keep them as healthy as possible. This saves you much work and helps to provide you and yours with only the best in nutrition. If you are interested in reading more about this subject, The Mix and Match Guide To Companion Planting is a good start.