Companion planting is the art of choosing vegetables that when grown together in a small plot naturally enhance your harvest. The secrets of this have been lost somewhat in the age of modern fertilizers and insecticides, but back when those resources were not available, the techniques of companion planting were well-known and wide spread.
If, like me, you are a fan or organic gardening, then this method is a valuable addition to your gardening toolkit. Let us say you are into growing tomatoes – these planting tricks will potentially improve your chance of success.
The first trick lets you ‘layer’ your garden. Planting carrots and tomatos together is very beneficial. Carrots mature fairly rapidly, so you can plant, grow and harvest a crop of carrots in the early part of the growing season. Your carrots will be out of the ground – and out of the way – by the time your tomato seedling are large enough to start crowding them out.
Likewise, Asparagus is a plant that – while in the ground year round – will be harvested before your tomato plants grow in. As a bonus, tomato plantings repel the dreaded asparagus beetle – no artificial chemicals needed.
Various onion crops – including chives and garlic – also make good tomato companions. Their strong odor is very effective at deterring a range of insect pests who might want to feast on your tomato plants.
Basil, when grown with tomatoes, is said to enhance the flavor of both the resulting tomatoes and the harvest of basil. While this seems hard to believe, the ‘old wives tales’ of pre-industrial gardening frequently have a lot of truth to them.
Finally, the tomato hornworm is one particularly annoying bug for gardeners. It is deterred by the presence of Borage in a companion planting with your Tomato crop.
If these techniques sound like they may be of use to you, I can heartily recommend pairing them with square foot gardening methods. They are a great match!