Companion planting is the practice of growing certain plants near one another for their mutual benefit or specifically for pest control. One plant may assist another by repelling or attracting insects, providing shade, attracting pollinating bees, repelling pests such as deer or mice, occupying different root zones, or even by decomposing into nutrients needed and absorbed by the other plant. Plants can also be considered “companion plants” if they mature at different times when planted together.

Companion planting can mean matching up garden vegetables together so that each benefits from the other. For example, peas, beans, and other pod-type vegetables harbor bacteria in their roots that capture nitrogen from the air, making this important nutrient readily available to neighboring plants. As a result, these plants are good companions to most root vegetables, including carrots, turnips, radishes, and beets.

Companion planting can be matching herbs with vegetables. Pests and insects can be repelled by many aromatic herbs which can be grown between vegetable crops to the benefit of the entire garden.

Many gardeners plant a border of aromatic Marigolds around their vegetable garden to repel the Mexican bean beetles and nematodes.

Garlic is a good all-purpose pest repellent. Grown in rich soil, it gives off sulfur compounds that kill aphids and onion flies.

Chives, garlic, onions, and other members of the allium family are particularly beneficial companions to roses. Besides repelling rose chafers and aphids, and protecting roses from black spots and mildew, alliums can cause roses to have a stronger scent.

There are exceptions, however. For example, sage has a weakening effect on Beans and Dill has that same effect on carrots.

Also please note that certain herbs such as mint which repels cabbage moths and ants and horseradish which repels bean beetles can quickly take over your garden if planted with the other vegetables. It is safer to plant these in large clay pots and set these pots among the appropriate plants.

Julie Williams has an excellent ebook called Companion Planting which you can get for a nominal fee. She includes 3 excellent bonuses: Seed Saving Tips, The Four Year Rotation Plan, and Natural Pest & Disease Deterrent Report. In addition, she gives you access to her blog where she shows you how companion planting is extremely efficient.

This lady studied horticulture at TAFE and was co-owner of an edible plants nursery for several years. As she says: “The combination of my love for growing (and eating) organic food, along with my experience with plants led me to create this e-book on Companion Planting.” Obviously, Julie knows what she is talking about. She is one of those who speak from experience, and since you will also have access to her blog, you can ask her any questions.

In The Four Year Rotation Plan, she outlines how rotation is easily done, and what can be done with a small garden in order to keep the plants healthy. Understandably, different vegetables need varying amounts of different nutrients from the soil. By rotating your planting each year, you give the soil the chance to rebuild. I personally subscribe to having a rotation plan.

In Natural Pest & Disease Deterrent Report, Julie explains many ways one can use organic pest and disease deterrents. However, one of the methods is somewhat new to me but most interesting. In this pdf, she gives 2 comprehensive lists of herbs and their beneficial effects on pests. This is a must-have for all gardeners.

Her main book, Companion Planting, is excellently laid out and very thoroughly explained. You can look for any fruit or vegetable to find out its best companion(s) and its worst companion(s). As you know, not all vegetables work well together, so the gardener must be aware of which ones work best together to get maximum results.

Finally, have a look at one of her pictures showing her garden of mixed vegetables. The leaves are absolutely vibrant and there are very few if any pests on them.

Companion planting is the way to go if you want to get maximum growing results with minimum problems with insects or pests. Give it a try. To help the beginner understand what plants work best together, I have put together a brief outline, Companion Vegetable Planting Guide” which you will find in my next post.