Companion planting is a great way to level up your gardening methods! With planting knowledge passed from generation to generation, our understanding of how to companion plant and why it’s so effective continues to grow. Keep reading to learn how to harness the power of companion planting in your own garden.
The Power of Companion Planting
Whether you’re an experienced gardener or just starting out, companion planting is a powerful tool that can be implemented by gardeners of all experience levels. It’s an effective gardening method that has been used for thousands of years.
Companion plants work together to improve the soil quality, boost nutrition of crops, and defend against predators. The plants work together to protect each other from pests and insects by emitting repelling scents, providing a visual distraction for predators, and attracting helpful predator insects. Certain pests and insects are naturally repelled by the scents off of specific plants like marigolds and basil. Instead of having a pot full of one single plant, having a varied planter full of different plants is a great way to visually distract pests.
How to Effectively Companion Plant / Companion Planting Examples
One of the most common examples of companion planting is the three sisters model. Originating from indigenous communities, this model of companion planting incorporates corn, squash, and beans. The corn deters pests and reduces the need for staking by providing support for the beans to climb. The beans provide additional nitrogen into the soil, eliminating the need for chemical fertilizers. Squash deters animals, like raccoons, that would eat the corn. This common example of companion planting is still widely used today.
Another form of companion planting is succession planting. The antithesis of monoculture, this occurs when you plant crops in succession based on their growing seasons. When an early-producing plant is on its way out, a later-producing plant is starting to put out growth. With succession planting, you’re able to have multiple rounds of crops from the same bed instead of just one at a time. In addition to saving space, this also helps keep weeds at bay by using up the available space and nutrients in the soil so there is little room left for weeds.
Companion Plant Combinations
No matter what flowers or edibles you like to grow, there’s a companion planting combination that you can try in your garden. Check out our list of popular plants and both the companion plants and ally plants that help them grow:
- Tomatoes: Cucumbers, onion, celery, carrots, parsley, peppers, and asparagus are all helpful companion plants for tomatoes. Bee balm, mint, and chives are great plant allies that help improve the flavour and health of tomato plants, while basil and marigolds help deter pests.
- Cucumbers: Beans, corn, peas, radishes, and tomatoes make great companion plants for cucumbers. Marigolds, nasturtium, and oregano help deter pests.
- Peppers: Tomatoes, onions, carrots, and eggplants are the perfect companion plants for peppers.
- Lettuce: Beets, cabbage, carrots, onions, and strawberries are wonderful companion plants for different varieties of lettuce. Garlic and chives will help deter pests like aphids.
- Strawberries: Lettuce, spinach, onion, thyme, and beans are great companion plants for strawberries. Cabbage also acts as a pest-deterrent.
The Benefits of Companion Planting
We know that companion planting is an effective way to garden, but why? To help us understand, let’s explore a few of the benefits of companion planting:
- Efficiently use your garden space: When you’re companion planting, you’re taking full advantage of the space in your garden by using it efficiently. Arranging plants and flowers next to each other that will help protect and enable the other one to grow is a great way to make sure you’re maximizing the available space in your garden.
- Natural pest protection: You don’t need to use harsh chemicals in order to be effective in the garden! One of the most helpful benefits of companion planting is that it naturally helps protect your precious plants from pests. Instead of having to purchase toxic and potentially damaging pesticides and insecticides, you can take advantage of nature’s pest repellent!
- Improved soil health: When companion planting plants with different root structures, each plant is going to pull what it needs from the soil while leaving different nutrients for the other plants. For example, peas and beans will reinvigorate the soil with nitrogen, which reduces your need for fertilizer. Potatoes and carrots will break up compacted soil, while tomatoes and melons will pull moisture and additional nutrients from deep within the soil.
Shopping for Companion Plants at Urban Roots Garden Market
From flowers to vegetables and everything in between, your local Urban Roots Garden Market location carries the companion plants you’re looking for. Browse our list of locations to find the garden centre in your neighbourhood here.