How does companion planting work? I need a better strategy for my garden next year. I want to use as little pesticide as possible.
Gina Trout, Richmond, Indiana
You’ve asked about a fascinating topic. If you want to know how does companion planting work, I can give you a quick overview here. Then check out our complete companion planting guide as it will certainly help you further.
Companion planting means that you’ll place plants that protect and nurture each other side by side in your garden. But it also means you’ll avoid locating plants that could harm each other close to one another.
For example, let’s look at broccoli. It shouldn’t be planted next to strawberries or tomatoes because these three will stunt each other’s growth. But if you raise broccoli near marigolds, carrots, rosemary, or onions, you’ll find that they help each other and are ideal to plant with broccoli. For instance, marigolds will repel mosquitoes and other pests that eat the broccoli, like cabbage worms, flea beetles, and aphids.
Next, grow carrots next to onions, leeks, and even tomatoes. Tomatoes will shade the carrots as they grow to keep them healthy and sweet-tasting. And tomatoes and celery will keep cabbage worms away, too.
After that, cucumbers are a garden favorite, but they are vulnerable to beetles. Therefore, protect them with radishes grown nearby. Also, cucumbers repel yellow jackets, a bonus for the human gardener.
Onions are another common vegetable that most people plant. But did you know that onions guard members of the cabbage family from aphids, Japanese beetles, and other insects? Keep onions close to kale, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli.
Additionally, nasturtiums and garlic are an ideal way to control squash bugs and to keep whiteflies and mosquitoes away. Garlic is a perfect companion for almost any veggie as the scent drives away bugs and often rabbits, rodents, and even deer, although nothing is foolproof with wildlife.
Finally, mustard is an underrated guardian plant. It attracts pests away from other vegetables. Then you can remove it from the garden if necessary.
In summary, I hope that next year these tips help you have a bumper crop!