Gardening consists of much more than just sticking plants in the soil and hoping for the best. Proven scientific methods and experience passed down through generations has helped us cultivate crops much better over time.
Trial and error has also enabled gardeners to find out which plants grow better on their own, which require other plants around them, and which ones need their own space to flourish.
Additionally, putting certain combinations of plants together can help to fend off insects, while others can actually poison the other plants in the same bed. Therefore, gardeners need to be privy of all of the above to get the very best from their crops.
While it’s relatively easy for those who are working on large plots of land to give ample space to each plant to grow properly, those who have limited land, such as those living in urban areas, may find themselves hard pressed for room, which is why they have no choice but to put their crops side by side. So with that in mind, this article will provide some tips on best practices for companion planting, which Love to Know defines as the “art and science of laying out a vegetable garden” so that ‘friendly’ plants are put side-by-side and away from their rivals.
Friend or foe?
The rule of thumb in companion gardening is to determine which of your plants belong to the same family, and then identify which crops can complement them. Urban Farmer provided a list of the right and wrong companion plants for common vegetables, herbs, and fruit. Carrots are compatible with beans, lettuce, onions, tomatoes, and peas, as well as herbs rosemary and sage, but shouldn’t be planted together with dill and parsley, which are its rivals. Cauliflower, meanwhile, can be planted together with beans, beets, celery, cucumbers, sage, and thyme, but not with broccoli, cabbage, strawberries, and tomatoes.
While it is possible to grow ‘enemy’ plants together, The Old Farmer’s Almanac advises putting distance between the two – approximately 4 feet away to be exact. Better yet, put them at opposite sides of the garden, and include borders to mark the edges of each bed. Screwfix features a variety of lawn edging, in a slew of different sizes and lengths that can be used to separate the different vegetable beds in your garden.
Aside from having a keen understanding of which plants can be planted together, gardeners should also be aware of the many other factors to consider. Burpee provided a list of additional tips to help you become more successful in your garden. It recommends planting squash, as its leaves are big enough to provide shade to weeds, thereby preventing them from taking over your garden. It also recommends planting corn and beans together, because the latter uses the former’s stalk as a natural stand for climbing. At the same time, it also fixes nitrogen in the soil, which the corn needs to grow rapidly.
Meanwhile, GrowVeg advises devising a crop rotation plan so as not to strip the soil of all its nutrients for certain plants. The website also has a growing guide for those who want to try out this type of rotation, as well as the proper planting schedule for the different vegetables.