Just like people, not all the plants in your garden are going to get along. While there's no such thing as vegetable jealousy, there is a chance that some of your veggies are restricting the growth of some of your other plants. On the flip side, there are certain plants that actually work quite well together, fostering the development of surrounding crops and acting as any good BFF would. In the gardening universe, we call this careful pairing of plants "companion planting." The benefits of successful companion planting in your garden are diverse and far-reaching, so we've put together a simple guide to help you use this method to your advantage and prevent some serious bad moods in your veggie patch.
How Companion Planting Can Help Grow Your Keswick Vegetable Garden
One of the first recorded instances of companion planting dates back thousands of years when North American Indigenous peoples would grow corn, squash, and beans together in the same patch, a combination known as "The Three Sisters." Planting their crops in this way allowed the plants to benefit from one another in a series of mutually-beneficial relationships: the corn stalks acted as a structure for the beans to climb, the squash leaves shaded the soil from the sun to help the patch retain moisture, and the beans deposited nitrogen into the soil, resulting in better foliage production for all plants.
This example illustrates several ways that companion planting can help improve your vegetables' growth, but there are many others! Here are some of the key benefits that companion planting provides to your vegetable garden:
- Structural support for climbing plants
- Shade to shield plants and soil from intense, direct sunlight and prevent weed seeds from germinating
- Nutrient deposits like nitrogen-fixing beans
- Improved flavour: When certain plants are grown together–like basil and tomatoes–they can actually make each other taste better!
- Pest control: Some flowers and herbs, like dill and marigolds, repel common garden pests
While many plant combinations work well together, others are like bad romances and are simply incompatible. Some plants can even cause certain vegetables to taste bitter or inhibit their growth (also like a bad romance!)
Companion Vegetables to Plant Together in Your Keswick Garden and Pairings to Avoid
Here's a list of our favourite garden vegetables, the best companions to plant alongside them, and bad neighbours to avoid planting nearby.
Good companions: Basil, carrots, celery, onions, oregano, and parsley.
Avoid broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collards, fennel, kohlrabi, and potatoes.
Good companions: Asparagus, basil, cucumbers, eggplant, oregano, tomatoes, and Swiss chard.
Avoid beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and fennel.
Good companions: Beans, broccoli, cabbage, corn, lettuce, marigolds, onions, peas, and radishes.
Avoid aromatic herbs like basil, lemon balm, mint, and sage; melons; and potatoes.
Good companions: Beans, lettuce, onions, peas, rosemary, sage, and tomatoes.
Avoid dill, fennel, and parsnips.
Good companions: Beets, carrots, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, and radishes.
Avoid beans and peas.
Good companions: Beans, corn, peas, and radishes.
Good companions: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, celery, collard greens, eggplant, kale, peas, potatoes, radishes, strawberries, and turnips.
Avoid garlic and onions.
Good companions: Beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, and lettuce.
Avoid beans and peas.
This list helps illustrate why it's so important to plan out your vegetable garden layout before planting. Planting incompatible plants together could end up stunting their growth, but planting good companion plants together will dramatically improve your harvest!
Once you've created a perfect layout for your companion vegetable garden, you can certainly try planting it again in the future. However, we do recommend giving your plant buddies a little space break next year. Crop rotation is necessary for ensuring long-term soil health, plant happiness and relationship durability, as well as pest and disease defence. By switching up your planting patterns, pests and pathogens won't be able to pop up again and multiply because they won't have their specific host plants available to attack. Besides, sometimes we all want to hang out with different people, right?
If you're ready to start companion planting in Keswick, Ontario, this year, drop by Georgina Garden Centre today to learn some more neat stuff or to explore all the delicious vegetable starters, herbs, and gorgeous flowers we have in stock. We've got everything you need right here to start planting a healthy, biodiverse garden that produces as many tasty crops as possible!