Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Companion Planting

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Stein.
The green onions are about twice as
tall as the photo shows and very thick.
A while ago, I wrote a post about our patio garden. In that post, I shared one of my biggest learnings: a successful small container garden is like an ecosystem. Many edible plants do best when they have flowers and other plants supporting them, acting as repellants for undesirable bugs and as attractions for good critters.

While pest control is certainly one important aspect of the ecosystem, I have since learned that plants can be compatible for a host of reasons. A friend tipped me off that she planted her green onion and chili pepper plants together in the same pot, because she had read they support one another. The peppers had a good yield, and the onions got huge!

I started reading more about it and learned that this is called “companion planting.” Companion plants may help each other by producing higher yields, better flavor, disease resistance, and/or pest control.

Conversely, some plants may actually stunt growth when planted together. For example, while garlic and onions may work great with pepper plants, they are known to stunt the growth of beans and peas. Tomatoes and potatoes are also not a good match, as they can be negatively affected by the same blight and may spread this to each other. Corn, mature dill, and kohirabi are also poor companions for tomatoes.

Seasoned gardeners have compiled extensive lists of plants that make great companions and sorry enemies. To read more about the relationships between specific plants that interest you (and to find companion planting charts), see here and here.

As we start our next garden, I hope to put this companion planting knowledge to work, as well as learn new skills and information, in order to grow a successful, healthy, and delicious crop!


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