From the Desk of Ed Hume: Companion Vegetable Gardening

August 9, 2010 at 12:20 AM 2 comments

Hi folks!  Sorry for the downtime.  I hope you all were able to get some weeding done while we’ve been gone!

It’s said that vegetables are like people, they thrive on companionship.  It is believed that vegetables will yield up to twice as much when they are surrounded with companion plants.  So in this article we will discuss the top 12 vegetables and their best friends.

If you’re getting ready to plant your vegetable garden you may want to try placing the various vegetable crops so you can take advantage of their natural friends.  If you have already planted your vegetable garden (which I hope most of you have), you may want to make some changes in subsequent plantings later this summer.

The following are a list of the top 12 vegetables and their ideal planting companions:

Beans– They like celery and cucumbers but dislike onions and fennel.

Beets– Bush beans, lettuce, onions, kohlrabi, and most members of the cabbage family are companion plants.  Keep the pole beans and mustard away from them.

Cabbage– Celery, dill, onions, and potatoes are good companion plants.  They dislike strawberries, tomatoes, and pole beans.

Carrots– Leaf lettuce, radish, onions, and tomatoes are their friends.  Plant dill at the opposite end of the garden.

Corn– Pumpkins, peas, beans, cucumbers, and potatoes are nice companion plants.  Keep the tomatoes away from them.

Cucumbers– They like corn, peas, radishes, beans, and sunflowers.  Cucumbers dislike aromatic herbs and potatoes so keep them away.

Lettuce– It grows especially well with onions.  Strawberries, carrots, radishes, and cucumbers also are friends and good companion plants.

Onions– Plant them near lettuce, beets, strawberries, and tomatoes but keep them away from peas and beans.

Peas– Carrots, cucumbers, corn, turnips, radishes, beans, potatoes, and aromatic herbs are their friends.  Keep the peas away from onions, garlic, leek, and shallots.

Radishes– This is one vegetable that has a lot of friends.  They are excellent companion plants with beets, carrots, spinach, and parsnips.  Radishes also grow well with cucumbers and beans.  It’s said that Summer planting near leaf lettuce makes the radishes more tender.  Avoid planting radishes near cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, broccoli, kohlrabi or turnips.

Squash– Icicle radishes, cucumbers, and corn are among their friends.

Tomatoes– Carrots, onions, and parsley are good companion plants.  Keep the cabbage and cauliflower away from them.

Sometimes plant friendships are one-sided. Carrots are said to help beans, but beans don’t reciprocate.  They will, however, help nearby cucumbers.

Other plants have bad companions and you’ll be doing them a favor to keep them apart.  Beans and onions are natural enemies so keep them at opposite sides of the garden.

If you have a patio you might try mint to repel ants and basil to keep the flies and mosquitoes away.  Both herbs have pretty flowers and are fragrant too.  Besides, they’re nice to harvest and use in the kitchen.

Depending on where you live, it may be too late to plant most of these vegetables.  However, that doesn’t mean you can’t look at the set-up you have now and start planning your vegetable garden for next year.  Also, there’s plenty of helpful research you can do in the meantime.  In her book, “Carrots Love Tomatoes” Louise Riotte says getting to know good and bad companions can double the bounty of your garden.  The only required work is to plan your garden planting properly.  “Carrots Love Tomatoes”, from Garden Way is an informative, well-illustrated guide to the subject of companion planting.  The book recently reprinted was originally published under the title “Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening.”

If you would like more information on the various plants to use for companion planting and natural insect and disease control, you’ll find “Carrots Love Tomatoes” is available in bookstores that carry the Garden Way books.  You can also purchase it online via here.


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Short Break From the Desk of Ed Hume: The Ed Hume Children’s Garden

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Linda Worden  |  September 4, 2010 at 7:43 AM

    Good morning.

    We have horrible mole problems. We will not use chemicals and have an insecticide free yard (4.5 acres). We live next to 5-40 acre parcels.
    You have recommended castor oil, which sounds environmentally friendly, but…..does it kill the little frogs that live in and around our lawn?
    We have tried trapping and end up making more of a mess than the moles, so if the castor oil will work, it would be a wonderful remedy for us.
    Would pouring castor oil directly down the holes be better?
    Please help!
    Thank you for your response
    Linda Worden

    • 2. edhume  |  September 8, 2010 at 2:55 AM

      Hi Linda:
      I don’t know if Castor Oil would have any effect on the little frogs. I would suggest that you call your local Poison Center or Veterinarian.
      This may seem like a run-around, but in a TV show we did with the Poison Center several years ago, they requested that people call them with such questions, rather than answer them ourselves.
      Thanks for asking!
      Have a wonderful autumn!
      -Ed Hume


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