A guide to companion planting in your vegetable garden
What Is Companion Planting?
Companion planting is the process of planting different types of crops next to each other because it maximises growth, and helps to achieve a better crop. It can also be a great, organic way to deter pests.
Benefits Of Companion Planting
There are a number of reasons that companion planting is so great, it can help with pest control, pollination, providing habitats for beneficial insects, suppressing weeds, maximising the use of your space and increasing crop productivity. Why wouldn’t you want to take advantage of this?!
Top Companion Planting Tips
Try planting fast-growing crops like lettuce next to slower-growing crops such as parsnips, this will utilise the space you have. Even better it can help prevent weeds from growing which would otherwise take valuable nutrients, water, light and spread disease. This process is called intercropping.
It can also help to plant lots of bird and insect friendly plants all around your garden and throughout your vegetable plot, this will attracts natural predators such as birds which will then eat the pests destroying your crops. The plants will also encourage bees into your garden which will then pollinate your crops.
Along with companion planting, it is essential you do your research on crop rotation as you should be doing both in your garden simultaneously. We have a previous blog post all about crop rotation which you can read by following the link below.
Crop rotation is vital for soil health, controlling pests and diseases and for keeping the nutrient balance in the soil. Each type of fruit and vegetable takes a different type and amount of nutrient from the soil. Plants in the same plant family will have very similar nutrient requirements.
For example, leafy green vegetables require more nitrogen, whereas root vegetables tend to need more phosphorus.
If you were to continuously have the same plant family in the same spot in your garden year on year you would end up with poor harvests. This is because it will have a negative impact on your soil’s fertility, the soil would have a nutrient deficiency and therefore poor growth. However, if you were to use the crop rotation method it would allow the soil to restore its nutrient levels.
What Not To Do
There are also many crops which should not be planted next to each other, usually plants in the same families, this is because they could be fighting for the same nutrients, water and space. Any crops that attract the same pests and diseases should be kept as far apart as possible to prevent the issues from spreading.
Avoid monocultures, this is where you grow rows and rows of the same type of plant. This would make it much easier for pests and disease to find their favourite plants and spread quickly.
Crops that are prone to bolting and find it difficult to cope in the high summer can benefit from being planted next to tall crops such as sweet corn or peas as they create a little shade which is very beneficial for these plants that can’t be in full sun all day.
Companion Planting Chart
The companion planting guide below from Anglian clearly shows you the plants that work well together to make the best use of your space and deter pests.
Using Herbs For Companion Planting
Planting herbs throughout your whole garden and your vegetable plot, in particular, can really help deter pests because the strongly scented leaves repel insects. They also attract pollinators and other beneficial insects, increasing the biodiversity in your garden.
Using Flowers For Companion Planting
Flowers can also have the same effect as herbs, repelling pests and attracting beneficial insects. Annuals such as sunflowers and marigolds and perennials like lavender are great examples! Marigolds very pungent smell is amazing at deterring unwanted pests. Planting them and cornflowers amongst your crops helps attract pollinating insects which will help the flowers set fruit.
We hope this guide has been helpful for you and has given you some ideas for your garden!