Have you ever noticed how plants grow in nature? There is never just one species growing together. In fact, you’ll notice that several varieties tend to grow near one another, due to ecological function. And this phenomenon doesn’t only apply to indigenous plants, but vegetables too. So if you’re growing vegetables at home, plant them with their companions for a thriving harvest even Mother Nature would be proud of.
Benefits of companion vegetable gardens
Before we dive into our favourite companion vegetables, let’s explore some of the many benefits of companion gardening.
1. Veggie companions save space
If you have a small garden, growing vegetables with their companion varieties gives you more bang for your buck, as you can fit more veggies in one area. For example, you can plant vining vegetable plants under taller ones.
2. Veggie companions help soil retain water
Dry, arid soil can lead to soil erosion. A well-utilised vegetable garden with plenty of companion plants can help the soil retain water by absorbing it and reducing runoff. Vining vegetable plants are also useful when it comes to moisture retention as they shade other plants, reducing evaporation.
3. Veggie companions keep weeds out
When soil gets covered with plants, it not only retains more water, but also prevents the growth of weeds. Certain vining vegetable varieties are particularly useful in this regard, and are often grown under taller plants for this very reason.
4. Veggie companions keep pests away
Monoculture gardening makes it easier for pests to eat away at vegetables, as they can find all their favourites in one place. Opting for companion gardening slows down pest discovery of your veggies, and in some cases can even deter them.
5. Veggie companions attract pollinators
Another benefit of growing vegetables with companion varieties is that your vegetable garden is more likely to attract beneficial insects. Planting flowering cover crops with extended blooming periods among your veggies will encourage pollinators to set up camp in your garden, encouraging the spread of seeds.
6. Veggie companions eliminate the need for trellises
Why put up trellises when you can grow a living trellis? Tall vegetable plants (like corn) can act as a trellis for climbing plants (like beans) – another reason to love companion gardening!
Growing vegetables that are made for each other
Many types of vegetables grow well when planted together. We’ll go through some of our favourite combinations with you.
Asparagus, parsley, basil and tomatoes
When planting these veggies and herbs, position the parsley and basil underneath the asparagus with the tomatoes alongside it. Tomatoes emit solanine, a chemical that repels asparagus beetles, and asparagus emits a chemical that repels nematodes. So basically, tomatoes and asparagus have a ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’ sort of deal – a symbiotic relationship. And the herbs come in for the tomatoes once again, as their nearby presence makes the tomatoes grow better. (Explore our range of tomato seeds.)
Carrots and chives
Planting chives near carrots helps improve both the growth and flavour of the carrots. This is because of an oil produced by chives, which is also said to ward off the dreaded carrot fly. So when it comes to growing carrots, chives are really a triple threat! (Speaking of carrots, order seeds while you’re here.)
Radishes and spinach
Radishes are great companions to spinach, acting as a trap for pesky leaf-mining insects. This doesn’t have a hugely negative effect on the growth of radishes, as the insects can only get to the foliage above the surface. Take that, leaf miners! (Order your radish seeds.)
Beets and garlic
Garlic is a companion to many vegetables, including the humble beet (check out this gorgeous beet variety). Garlic wards off pests with its pungent odour, including root maggots and snails – eliminating the need for pesticides. It also improves the growth and taste of beets, and its sulfur production acts as an antifungal agent. So we bet many vegetables would choose to be stuck on an island with garlic – it’s a good companion indeed!
Grow your own vegetable companion garden
Want to put these veggie buddies to the test? Order seeds from our online store and start growing vegetables at home.