Companion planting is when you think about which plants will do better growing close together. Some plants help each other without even trying!
For example legumes (beans and peas) take nitrogen from the air and can help plants that need more nitrogen in the soil. They can also provide shade for plants that can’t handle full sun. Marigolds can mask the scent of the vegetables and therefore keep white flies and nematodes away, this is especially helpful for zucchini and tomatoes. Basil is said to improve the flavor of tomatoes when they grow together (and I personally like eating tomatoes and basil together straight out of the garden!).
Other plants can compete for garden resources when planted together and should be planted away from each other, often plants from the same family need the same nutrients and will do better if planted with other plant families.
Below is a companion planting guide I found online, there are many out there and most have the usual vegetable garden plants for North America.
To use it simply note which plants you want in your garden and follow the colours to see what should be planted together or spaced apart. You can look up the reasons behind each online if you are interested.
Click here for more information
Now we need to take our list of vegetables that we want to grow and think about which ones will grow well together or need to be separated.
When you can’t find the plant you want to plant, knowing its plant family helps you to guess. For example we want kale in our garden. Kale is not on the chart; however, it is a brassica, the same as cauliflower and broccoli.
Now comes the fun bit. Below is a list of the plants that our gardeners have chosen to plant this season. We need to use the chart above to fill in the table and then we can plan our garden according to which plants want to live close together and which ones don’t. Feel free to print or copy the table, or make your own for your garden.
Here is my finished chart. We’ll use it to plan what we plant where in the garden.
Stay tuned for part 2 of this workshop; drawing a plan for your garden.
Finished table of companions for our garden plan