Companion Planting: Making the Most of Your Garden
When planning your garden layout, there’s much more to keep in mind than just soil conditions… (We know BigYellowBag has you covered there) It’s also important to pay attention to what plants you put next to each other. There are tons of plant relationships that can provide your garden a ton of benefits. We call this companion planting. Let’s dig-in to some of the benefits that companion planting can provide, and some examples of plant relationships that you can put to work this growing season!
Benefits of Companion Planting
There are many different reasons to practice companion planting in your own gardens. Many gardeners are already reaping the benefits of companion planting without even knowing it.
Using cover crops is a kind of companion planting that will provide a ton of benefits like moisture retention, soil improvement, nutrients addition, and much more. By planting cover crops, you are able to reduce water loss by evaporation. This means that there will be more water available to your plants. Planting cucumbers beneath giant sunflowers can provide this moisture retaining benefit. Cucumbers also help to control weed growth within your sunflower patch. You can check out some other cover crop options at AgriHome Expressions.
Other examples of the benefits of companion planting are controlling pests, conserving space, and attracting beneficial insects. You can repel harmful insects away from delicate plants by using particular companion plants. For example, collards will draw Diamondback Moths away from cabbage. There are tons of plants that can encourage pollinators to visit your garden. Trumpet vine is a favorite for hummingbirds which are great pollinators for your whole garden! Growing cilantro, oregano, or garlic chives can attract beneficial insects such as hover flies to your garden. These hover flies will, in turn, help combat aphids and caterpillars.
Marigolds: The Epitome of Companion Plants
Marigolds are an annual flower that grows well in sunny, hot weather. They can be yellow, orange, or burgundy and they are very drought-tolerant. They also make an excellent companion plant! Marigolds repel aphids, cabbage maggots, potato beetles, Japanese beetles, and squash bugs. They release a compound into the soil that battles harmful nematodes such as the root-knot nematode, which can cause damage to plant roots. Marigolds also have a strong scent which can mask other, more desirable scents from pests. They also encourage honeybees to visit your garden. Cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, and beans are just a few examples of plants that can benefit from marigolds.
Companion Planting in Your Garden
While the combinations of plants to test in your garden are endless, there are many proven examples of companion planting. You can probably find examples at work in your own garden already. You might have been using some natural pesticide or herbicide based on your choice of plants. Or, perhaps you’ve used companion planting to make the most of the space you have in your garden. Regardless, there are countless more ways to benefit your garden using companion planting. You can read more about specific pairings here. Now it’s time to give some of them a try!