For hundreds of years humans have used a system called 'companion planting' to enhance crops, deter pests, increase bio diversity and aid water saving techniques.
The indigenous people of North America refer to one aspect of it as 'The Three Sisters' and still use this method today. The sisters are pictured above, the sweetcorn grows tall and strong, the beans climb the corn and the squash sprawl at ground level to suppress weeds and help to shade the ground to retain as much moisture as possible.
There are many other combinations that are helpful to each other, for example growing basil near tomatoes is not only said to increase the crop but also enhances the flavour. Marigolds help nearly everything, from disguising the scent of carrots from the dreaded carrot fly to repelling nematodes that attack tomato roots.
Attraction can also be used as a defence against pests, Nasturtiums, as a sacrificial plant, will become the first choice for aphids and keep them off your other produce.
Of course, where this is Ying, there is also a Yang. Planting the wrong bed fellows together can decrease crops, increase disease and generally create very unhappy plants.
Below you will find a chart to help you on your Companion Planting journey.
|Vegetable||Team Mates||The Opposition||
|Asparagus||Basil, carrots, coriander, dill, marigolds, parsley, tomatoes||Garlic, onions, potatoes||Marigolds, parsley and tomatoes can protect against asparagus beetles|
|Basil||Asparagus, aubergine, beans, beetroot, cabbage, marigold, oregano, peppers, potatoes, tomatoes||Basil increases the crop of tomatoes and enhances the flavour of both tomatoes and lettuce|
|Beans||Beetroot, carrot, chard, cabbage, cucumbers, nasturtiums, peas, radish, rosemary, sweetcorn||Garlic, onions||Nasturtiums and rosemary can help deter pests|
|Beetroot||Broccoli, brussels sprouts, bush beans, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, kohlrabi, onions||Runner beans, mustard||Both beetroot and runner beans are hungry plants and will compete if planted together. Compost your beetroot leaves, they will add magnesium to your soil which aids photosynthesis|
|Broccoli||Basil, beetroot, bush beans, carrots, celery, chamomile, chard cucumber, dill, garlic, lettuce, marigolds, mint, nasturtium, onions, radish, rosemary, sage, spinach, thyme||
Asparagus, climbing beans, melons, mustard, peppers, pumpkins, strawberries, sweetcorn, watermelon
|Rosemary deters cabbage moth which also affects broccoli|
|Cabbage||Beetroot, celery, chard, lettuce, spinach, onions||Kohlrabi, tomatoes||Rosemary, hyssop, mint and sage all deter cabbage moth|
|Carrots||Beans, lettuce, onions, peas, peppers, tomatoes||Dill||Rosemary deters carrot fly, marigolds help to hide the carrot smell from the fly and chives are said to improve flavour. Carrot fly fly at low level so planting in raised beds, over 60cms or netting to that height can also help|
|Courgette||Beans, corn, dill, garlic, marigold, nasturtiums, oregano, peas, radish, spinach||Potatoes, pumpkin|
|Onions||Cabbage, carrots, chard, lettuce, peppers, tomatoes||Beans, peas||Chamomile improves both growth and flavour|
|Potatoes||Basil, beans, celery, garlic, horseradish, lettuce, marigolds, onions, peas, radish, spinach, sweetcorn||
Asparagus, aubergine, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, cucumbers, kohlrabi, melons, peppers, raspberries, squash, strawberries, sunflowers, tomatoes
|Horseradish helps to increase resistance against disease. Cucumbers, tomatoes and raspberries attract pests to the detriment of the potato|
|Pumpkin||Beans, marigolds, nasturtiums, squash, sweetcorn||Potatoes|
|Radish||Beetroot, cabbage, carrots, chives, cucumber, kale, lettuce, spinach, squash||Hyssop||Radish can also attract flea beetle away from other crops|
|Squash||Beans, dill, marigolds, nasturtiums, peas, radish, strawberries, sunflowers sweetcorn||Potato|
|Strawberries||Bush beans, caraway, chives, lettuce, onions, sage, spinach, squash||Aubergine, brassicas, peppers, potatoes, tomatoes|
|Sweetcorn||Climbing beans, courgette, cucumber, marjoram, peas, pumpkins, squash, sunflowers||Tomatoes||Tomatoes and sweetcorn can suffer with similar worm pests. Planting with climbing beans and squashes is the Three Sisters system as mentioned above|
|Tomato||Asparagus, basil, carrots, celery, mint onions, parsley, peppers||Dill, kohlrabi, potatoes, sweetcorn||Basil and mint can improve both growth and flavour.|