Companion Planting: Beginners’ Luck
Our garden is one big experiment. Each year we try something new in the design and we also plant something we haven’t planted before. For the past 2 years, we have used this little book Carrots Love Tomatoes by Louise Riotte. Of course, it doesn’t have everything about companion planting, but it has more than enough to get us started. What is companion planting? In short, plants don’t like to be lonely and are not evolved to exist in a monoculture. For instance, a field of tomatoes and only tomatoes will not fair as well as tomatoes planted with carrots, onions, and basil. In the wild, you find plants cohabitating with preferred species – such as corns, beans, and squash are all good neighbors.
Last year was our first attempt at this, but it was more of a fumble throughout the year. This year, we did more research on line, planned a bit more, gave ourselves more time to plant, and used labels (feel free to snicker). Planting a row of tomatoes is not so very difficult. Going back and sewing seeds of onion, basil, and carrot in-between the tomatoes is time consuming. But we took the time to do this because we expect all 4 veggies will benefit in some way.
We planted eggplant this year and we read that the green bean stage of any bean is helpful to the eggplant, as it deters a certain beetle that chews on eggplant leaves. Did you know that the corn worm and tomato worm are the same? So, it is best for both corn and tomato that they are not planted side by side. Many veggies do not like sunflowers, which we planted around 2 edges of the garden last year and volunteers are sprouting up everywhere this year.
This is our first year for planting marigolds and zinnias to help with pest control – they attract certain bugs to them and repel other bugs from the garden. We also learned a little about companion planting for fruit trees – many of which benefit from planting garlic at their base.