Some years, your vegetable garden is successful – other years, not so much. You’ve tried a few things that haven’t turned out quite as you had hoped. These are the laws of gardening! There are many factors at play in your successes and your failures. Companion planting is one of them. Without even realizing it, you have probably made some good and/or bad plant alliances.
What is companion planting?
Companion planting means providing the vegetables you are growing with the best possible environment to ensure their optimal development. Some plants are complementary and attract beneficial insects such as pollinators or prevent the growth of weeds. But be careful – some plants can harm their neighbours! In short, by planting the right “companions”, you will create harmony in your garden and increase your chances of success.
What purpose does companion planting serve?
The technique of identifying companion vegetables was used by Amerindians before the Europeans arrived. Since then, it has been consistently employed in farming. With this practice, grains are partnered with legumes for a better harvest. Today, companion planting has been gaining renewed interest thanks to the organic gardening trend and for the benefits good planting companions can provide, for example, companion planting:
- attracts pollinators (e.g., sunflowers attract bees);
- reduces the invasion of harmful insects (e.g., chives repel aphids);
- prevents the growth of weeds (e.g., radishes deter weeds);
- adds nitrogen to the soil, which benefits the neighbouring plants (e.g.: legumes provide nitrogen for tomatoes and cucumbers);
- adapts to lighting needs (e.g., lettuce grows well in the shade of tomato plants).
How do I start companion planting?
It is important to understand that plants/vegetables that help each other and promote growth should be planted alternately: in rows next to each other, in squares that are side-by-side or directly alternating. Vegetables and plants that are natural enemies should be kept at least 1.5 m (5 ft) apart.
Here is a complete list of optimal companion planting alliances to consider for your vegetable garden!
Myth or reality?
Some doubt the effectiveness of companion planting for vegetables. For others, the introduction of companion planting has changed their lives! So put on your gardening gloves and try it – See the results of this proven technique for yourself!