Landscape Design

Companion planting with vegetables is a pretty big topic with many nuances. In essence, all that it requires is planting vegetables so that they can benefit from one another rather than compete. Proper companion planting can help to enrich your soil, deter weeds and pests, and help all of your vegetables thrive in the garden as they support one another. With that said, if you’ve never tried it before, it can be a little confusing to know where to begin. Many gardeners have heard of Three Sisters — corn, squash, and beans — but what about all of the other delicious vegetables? And what is it about the Three Sisters that make them so compatible? Here we offer a simple guide that will help you avoid heading down a rabbit hole to figure out what goes where!

Benefits of Companion Planting with Vegetables Explained

There are a few different reasons why companion planting certain vegetables next to one another is beneficial. These benefits include shelter, support, pest management, and soil improvement. Let’s use the Three Sisters as an example:Support: The corn acts as a trellis for the pole beans to grow up, and as the pole beans wind their way through the squash and up the cornstalks, they hold the Three Sisters together. Shelter: As the massive leaves of the squash spread, they protect the Three Sisters by creating living mulch, which not only keeps the soil cool on those hot summer days but also prevents weeds. Pest Management: The fuzzy, almost prickly squash leaves keep pests like raccoons away because they don’t like how it feels on their paws. Soil Improvement: The beans ‘fix’ nitrogen levels for all Three Sisters by pulling it from the air and bringing it to the soil. The Three Sisters all have varying root depths, meaning they will not compete for space in the garden.Many other vegetables make great companions too! For example, when grown vertically on a trellis, cucumbers provide shelter from the hot afternoon sunshine for shade-loving vegetables like spinach.

You may have also heard the suggestion to plant tomatoes next to basil. One of the reasons this pairing works so well together is pest management. The smell of the basil is much stronger than that of tomatoes, so bugs that come around which might like to chow down on your tomatoes will only be able to smell the basil and continue on their merry little way.

Veggies That Grow Well Together

Now that we have given you a breakdown of why the Three Sisters work well together, you might be wondering where to plant all the other stuff in your garden! Below is a simple vegetable companion planting guide to help you decide what goes where. TomatoesCompanion Plants: basil, oregano, parsley, carrots, celery, and onionsPlants to Avoid: potatoes, fennel, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, collards, and kale CarrotsCompanion Plants: lettuce, peas, onions, tomatoes, beans, sage, and rosemaryPlants to Avoid: dill, fennel, and parsnip PeppersCompanion Plants: tomatoes, Swiss chard, eggplant, oregano, squash, carrots, asparagus, basil, and cucumbersPlants to Avoid: Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, beans, and fennel CucumbersCompanion Plants: peas, beans, radishes, broccoli, cabbage, corn, onions, lettuce, and marigoldsPlants to Avoid: potatoes, aromatic herbs like mint or sage, and melons GarlicCompanion Plants: cucumbers, peppers, radishes, eggplant, carrots, corn, and beetsPlants to Avoid: peas and beans OnionsCompanion Plants: beets, carrots, lettuce, cole crops (broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower)Plants to Avoid: peas and beans Summer SquashCompanion Plants: beans, corn, peas, and radishesPlants to Avoid: potatoes BeansCompanion Plants: brussels sprouts, celery, kale, collard greens, radish, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, eggplant, peas, and strawberriesPlants to Avoid: onions and garlicWith all of this said, we have a couple of reminders surrounding the concept of companion planting vegetables to keep in mind as you plan your garden layout! The first is that depending on who you ask about vegetable companion planting, you might get varying opinions and information. So, we recommend following the most reputable sources you can find and experimenting a little bit within these bounds to see what works best in your garden.

We also want to offer a gentle reminder that good gardening practices include crop rotations in addition to companion planting! Be sure to not plant the same vegetables in the same location for several years in a row, as it can lead to nutrient imbalances and potential pest problems, regardless of how on point your companion planting game is. If you need some help selecting the perfect companion plants for your northwest Arkansas vegetable garden, don’t hesitate to stop by or reach out to us here at Westwood Gardens!

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