The garden is a major romantic hub with a diversity of beneficial (and detrimental) relationships. Gardeners can easily play the role of ‘matchmaker’ by growing specific crops in close proximity to one another to serve a beneficial purpose - known as companion planting.
There are numerous benefits to practising companion planting, like natural pest-control, pollination, organic mulches to keep the weeds down, habitat for beneficial insects, insect and plant diversity in the garden, and generally increasing production productivity and health.
Why not give companion planting a try in your own garden? Here are some combinations we LOVE!
Tomatoes + Marigolds
These two make for great companions as they both prefer the same growing conditions. Research has shown that African marigold secretes a substance in the soil that suppresses root-knot nematodes that are harmful to the development of tomatoes.
Lettuce + Chives
Aphids don’t dig smelly plants like chives or garlic, therefore, they make the perfect companions for lettuce. Adding alyssum into the mix will also attract beneficial insects to your lettuce crops.
Onions + Strawberries
This odd couple has similar growth requirements (full sun and well-draining soil) and the same planting schedule. The odorous onions also mask the sweet strawberry scent from hungry pests.
Brinjals + Basil
The pungent smell of basil will ward off a number of pesky critters and, if left to flower, can attract beneficial pollinators to your eggplant crops.
Cabbage + Nasturtiums
Nasturtiums are a ‘trap crop’. Plant nasturtiums around your cabbage crops to lure the caterpillars of the Cabbage white butterfly away from your precious crop where they will merrily devour the nasturtiums instead of your precious cabbages.
Swiss Chard + Sweet Alyssum
Sweet Alyssum attracts numerous beneficial insects, including hoverflies, which predate on aphids.
Broccoli + Calendula
Calendula exudes a sticky substance on its stem that lures aphids and traps them. These bright beauties also attract ladybugs to feast on aphids.
Radishes + Carrots
Even though these are both root crops, they take up nutrients from different levels in the soil and therefore don't compete for resources. Both crops can be planted at the same time, and, because radish germinates before carrots, the maturing radish will help to loosen the soil for germinating carrot seeds. Radishes will be ready for harvesting before carrots mature, thereby allowing carrots more space to grow.
Cabbage + Chamomile
Chamomile attracts beneficial insects to cabbages, and can also serve as a companion to other brassica crops. In Autumn, cut the chamomile down, leaving the roots intact, and scatter on the bed to decompose and enrich the soil.
*Tip | Plant Wormwood (Artemisia spp.) on garden boundaries as they assist in natural pest control. Have a look at this interesting post by fellow gardener @judiths.
Trial and error is the best way to determine the optimal combinations that will work for your garden - experimenting is all part of the fun.