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During our last lecture, we learnt about the main vegetables families. One of the idea for that was that it’s better to avoid planting together vegetables from the same family because of their shared characteristics that might attract similar pests, and extract the same nutrients from the soil.

I wondered which plants then make the best partnerships and which to avoid growing together. Here is what I found.

Basically this practice of growing different plants together is called intercropping.

While doing some research, I found out that these combinations do not always work as expected. The reason for this, apparently, is that it is still being experimented upon and different climates and soils might offer variations in plant and insect behavior.

Some of the reasons favoring intercropping:

  • Taller plants can offer shelter to smaller plants, from sun and wind. This is what we do on the farm with the Moringa trees that offer shelter in the summer to most of the other crops. Moringa trees are ideal because of their thin foliage that still allow for enough sunlight to pass through. Also they die in the winter and regrow in the spring, so they don’t get too big and over-shadow the vegetables as they get older. (In general though, it is better to avoid growing vegetables in close proximity of large trees or shrubs, as they will compete for sunlight and for nutrients.)
  • Physical support, like beans using corn as trellis for instance.
  • Pest management – some plants like marigold for instance keep some detrimental pests at bay.
  • Attract beneficial insects – and while the bad guys are kept at bay, some plants can also attract good insects like bees for instance. At the farm, we have some species of basil at the end of rows that bees absolutely love. The best is to use native plants to attract beneficial insects and ward off pest, if possible; or at least plants from similar climate – and to avoid plants known as invasive, especially if we let them go to seed.
  • Soil health and improvement. Different plants will draw on different nutrients. Some will bring nutrients for others to use. Some plants fix nitrogen for instance, like beans, clover or alfalfa. Also different plants have different root systems. Different root length and width will help aerate the soil and can help retain moisture and favor a greater diversity of beneficial micro-organisms.

Here is a chart highlighting some common combinations, taken from: http://www.vegetablegardeninglife.com/companion-planting-charts.html

Vegetable Companions Antagonists Insight
Asparagus Basil, Coriander, Dill, parsley, carrots, Tomatoes, Marigolds Garlic, Potatoes, Onions Marigolds, parsley, Tomato protect from asparagus beetles
Beans beets, Brassicas, Carrot, cabbage, Cauliflower, Cucumber, Celery, Chards, Corn, eggplant, Peas, Potatoes Alliums (chives, garlic, leeks, onions), peppers, Tomatoes For Broad Beans: Fennel Corn is a natural trellis, and provides shelter for beans. Beans provide nitrogen to soil.
beets Brassicas (ie. broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kohlrabi,turnip), Kholrabi, Garlic, Lettuce, Onion, Sage Pole and Runner Beans The beans and beets compete for growth. Composted beet leaves add magnesium to soil when mixed.
Broccoli Basil, Bush Beans, Chamomile, Cucumber, Dill, Garlic, Lettuce, Marigold, mint, Onion, Potato, Radish, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Tomato Grapes, Mustard, Oregano, Strawberry, Tomato Rosemary repels cabbage fly. Dill attracts wasps for pest control.
Brussels Sprouts Dill, Potato, Thyme Strawberry, Tomato
cabbage beets, Bush Beans, Celery, Chamomile, Dill, mint, Onion, Potato, Oregano, Rosemary, Sage Beans (Pole and Runner), Mustards, peppers, Strawberry, Tomato Celery, onion and herbs keep pests away. Rosemary repels cabbage fly.
carrots Beans (Bush and Pole), Garlic, Lettuce, Onion, parsley, Peas, Rosemary, Tomato Dill, Parsnip Beans provide nitrogen in soil which carrots need. Onion, parsley and rosemary repel the carrot fly
Cauliflower Beans, Celery, Oregano, Peas, Tomato Strawberries Beans provide the soil with nitrogen, which cauliflower needs.
Celery Bush Beans, cabbage, Dill, Leeks, Marjoram, Tomatoes Parsnip, Potato
Chives Basil, carrots, Marigold, parsley, Parsnip, Strawberries, Tomato Beans
Corn Beans, Cucumbers, Marjoram, Parsnip, Peas, Potatoes, Pumpkin, Squash, Zucchini Tomato Tomato worm and corn earworm like both plants. Beans and peas supply nitrogen.
Cucumber Beans, Celery, Corn, Dill, Lettuce, Peas, Radish Potato, Sage, strong aromative herbs, Tomato Cucumbers grow poorly around potatoes and sage.
Dill cabbage, Corn, Cucumbers, Dill, Fennel, Lettuce, Onions cilantro, Tomato Cross-pollinates with cilantro, ruining both. One only a few plants that grows well with Fennel.
eggplant Beans, Marjoram, Pepper, Potato
Kohlrabi beets, Lettuce, Onions Strawberries, Pole Beans, Tomato Lettuce repels earth flies.
Leek carrots, Celery, Lettuce, Onions Beans, Peas Companion attributes are the same as garlic, onion, chives (alliums).
Lettuce Beans, beets, carrots, Corn, Marigold, Onions, Peas, Radish, Strawberries parsley Mints repel slugs (which feed on lettuce).
Marigold Brassicas (broccoli, etc), Cucurbits (cucumber, etc), peppers, Tomato, and most other plants It is said that you can plant Marigolds throughout the garden, as they repel insects and root-attacking nematodes (worm-like organisms). Be aware they may bother allergy sufferers.
Onions beets, Cabbabe, carrots, Lettuce, Marjoram, Rosemary, Savory, Strawberry, Tomato Beans, Peas Repels aphids, the carrot fly, and other pests.
parsley Asparagus, Beans, Radish, Rosemary, Tomato Lettuce Draws insects away from tomatoes.
Peas Beans, cabbage, carrots, Celery, Corn, Cucumber, Lettuce, Marjoram, Parsnip, Potato, Sage Alliums (Chives, Garlic, Onion, Shallots)
Potato Beans, cabbage, Corn, eggplant, Horseradish, Marjoram, Parsnip Celery, Cucumber, Pumpkin, Rosemary, Strawberries, Tomato Cucumber, tomato and raspberry attract harmful pests to potatoes. Horseradish increases disease resistance.
Pumpkin Beans, Corn, Radish Potato
Radish cabbage, Corn, Cucumber, eggplant, Lettuce, Marjoram, Parsnip Radish is often used as a trap crop against some beetles(flea and cucumber).
Sage Beans, cabbage, carrots, Peas, Rosemary, Strawberries Repels cabbage fly, some bean parasites.
Spinach Beans, Lettuce, Peas, Strawberries Natural shade is provided by beans and peas, for spinach.
Squash Fruit trees, strawberries Similar companion traits to pumpkin.
Strawberries Borage, Bush Beans, Caraway Broccoli, Cabbages The herb, Borage, is likely the strongest companion.
Tomatoes Alliums, Asparagus, Basil, Borage, Broccoli, carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Marigold, peppers Brassicas, beets, Corn, Dill, Fennel, Peas, Potatoes, Rosemary Growing basil about 10 inches from tomatoes increases the yield of the tomato plants.
Turnip Peas
Zucchini Flowering herbs (for pollination)

Happy growing!