When you are planning your garden this year, you should consider companion planting. Companion planting is the planting of two or more species in close proximity to gain benefits. Those benefits could be pest control or higher yields. When I first started gardening a good friend of mine mentioned that I should look up companion planting. I was surprised by all the information that I found about it because companion planting has been around for centuries. It amazes me to think about how people figured out this way of planting through many seasons of trial and error. A common example of its history is the Native Americans and the Three Sisters. The Three Sisters are corn, beans, and squash. Corn is used as a natural pole for the beans. The beans help stabilize the corn and they fix nitrogen in the soil for the corn and squash. The squash acts as a living mulch to shade weeds and help keep moisture in the soil.
Vegetables aren’t the only companion plants. Flowers can help you in the garden too! Some flowers can help by “luring” the pests away from your vegetables. I don’t know about you but I would rather a beetle ate my flowers than eating my vegetables! Flowers also help bring in pollinators to your garden. They also make your garden look nice too. One of the most common flowers that people plant in their garden in is marigolds. I put them in my garden my first year. They grew well with little maintenance and they are a great addition to a salad. Some other flowers that are useful in the garden are nasturtiums, borage, and cosmos.
My first garden with marigolds!
Another thing to remember in companion planting is that not all vegetables are compatible. Some vegetables need the same nutrients as others so planting these crops next to each other will make them compete and stunt their growth. Other vegetables will have stunted growth because they are competing for space with each other.
I believe that companion planting is a great practice to use in organic gardening because you save time and money. (Who doesn’t like saving money!) There are a lot of great books and websites with information on companion planting. I hope you all plan some companion into your garden this year. This growing season, I am going to expand my knowledge on companion planting while I am planting in the High Rocks garden and with my own garden.