Companion Planting: The Benefits of Planting Certain Crops Together
Companion planting is a gardening technique that involves planting different crops close to one another to maximise their benefits. This technique has been used for centuries by farmers and gardeners worldwide. The concept behind companion planting is that certain plants can benefit each other by providing nutrients, repelling pests, and attracting beneficial insects.
There are several benefits to companion planting.
- Firstly, it can help to reduce the number of pests in your garden. Certain plants have natural repellent properties that deter pests from attacking nearby crops. For example, planting marigolds near your vegetables can help to repel aphids and other insects that can damage your plants. Similarly, planting onions near carrots can help to repel carrot flies.
- Secondly, companion planting can help to improve soil fertility. Certain plants can fix nitrogen in the soil, benefiting neighbouring plants. Legumes, such as peas and beans, are particularly good at fixing nitrogen in the soil. By planting them alongside other crops, you can help to enrich the soil and provide essential nutrients for the other plants to thrive.
- Thirdly, companion planting can help to attract beneficial insects to your garden. Certain plants, such as herbs and flowers, can attract pollinators and predators that can help control your garden's pests. For example, planting lavender, borage, and other herbs can attract bees and other beneficial insects that can help to pollinate your plants and keep pests under control.
- Fourthly, companion planting can help to maximise space in your garden. By planting crops with different growth habits, you can make the most of the available space in your garden. For example, planting tall sunflowers near shorter plants can provide shade and support for the smaller plants.
- Finally, companion planting can help enhance your crops' flavour and yield. Certain plants can enhance the flavour of neighbouring plants. For example, planting basil near tomatoes can help improve the tomatoes' flavour. Similarly, planting nasturtiums near cucumbers can help to increase their yield.
When it comes to companion planting, there are several important factors to consider:
- It is essential to choose plants that have complementary growing habits. For example, plants that grow tall should be planted alongside plants that grow low to the ground.
- It is essential to consider the nutrient requirements of each plant. Plants with similar nutrient requirements should be planted together to ensure they receive the nutrients they need to thrive.
- It is essential to consider the timing of planting.
Depending on their growth habits, some plants may benefit from being planted at different times.
Here are some examples of companion planting:
- Tomatoes and Basil: Planting basil alongside tomatoes can help repel harmful insects like tomato hornworms and whiteflies. Additionally, basil can improve the flavour of tomatoes and increase their yields.
- Carrots and Onions: Planting onions alongside carrots can help repel carrot flies while planting carrots with chamomile can improve their flavour and health.
- Corn, Beans, and Squash: Planting corn, beans, and squash together in a "three sisters" planting can improve soil health, reduce pest problems, and increase yields. The beans fix nitrogen in the soil, which the corn can use, while the squash helps suppress weed growth.
In conclusion, companion planting is a simple yet effective technique that can help improve your garden's health and productivity. By planting different crops together, you can reduce pests, improve soil fertility, attract beneficial insects, maximise space, and enhance the flavour and yield of your crops. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or a beginner, companion planting is a technique that is easy to implement and can provide many benefits for your garden.