companion plants. veggies need friends too
what and how can companion planting help?
Companion plants are plants that lend a helping leaf to one another in terms of growth and production. One plant may attract an insect that might protect a companion plant. Another plant may act as a repellent for a bug that might be harmful to the plant next to it.
natural support system
Plants and flowers that grow tall and strong lend themselves as natural, organic supports to low sprawling crops. An example of this would be planting tall sunflowers next to cucumbers or snap peas. The sprawling crops can crawl to the taller plants and use them as a trellis.
Growing plants next to their companions benefits both plants. By eliminating competition between plants, you allow one to absorb what it needs without stealing from the other. When nutrients are pulled from the soil by one plant, it can result in a change of the biochemistry of the soil. And when done right, the soil can then evolve or improve the flavor of other plants in the area.
simply the best
A plant’s root system can easily affect the soil it’s in. Plants with long taproots like parsnips and carrots can lift nutrients from the depths of the soil. The nutrients then benefit those plants with shallow root systems. It’s a pay it forward for plants. Nitrogen is also important to many plants, and some, like peas and beans, actually help to draw nitrogen in, making it available for the plants that need it.
weed it out
Mixing upright plants and sprawling ones can create a thicker cover across the an open garden, which will ultimately prevent weeds.
regulate shade & wind
Too much sun can damage tender and fragile plants. The same is true for wind. Taller and larger plants can offer protection from harsh winds to the smaller more delicate plants.
tips for watering companion plants
When growing different varieties of plants side by side, try to group them together by water needs. Deep-rooted vegetables like tomatoes and asparagus should be placed in the same bed, as they will thrive with less frequent (but more thorough) watering that soaks deep into the soil.
on the flip side…
Shallow- to medium-rooted plants like beans and chard benefit from more frequent watering that saturates just the first few inches of soil. Wind soaker hoses around your plants and attach them to dual outlet electronic timers to easily manage your watering schedule for different beds.
Companion planting is a great way to ensure you have a garden that will grow healthy plants and produce large bounties. A lot of work goes into maintaining a productive garden, so it is worth the time, effort and research it takes to grow like-minded plants that will help each other out. We hope this takes some of the guesswork out of the process for you!