Gardening has many aspects to it. It is functional because it provides food and nourishment for our bodies. It is therapeutic to our minds and spirits as we spend time in nature working the ground in the silence and sunshine. It nourishes our microbiome as we interact with the soil and boosts our oxygen and vitamin D levels as we soak up the sun. But maybe best of all gardening can be a way to express ourselves artistically.
I have been researching and experimenting with companion planting with plants for a few years, mixing things up but in an aesthetically pleasing way that appeals to me. I have an eye for design and am able to apply that to anything plant and garden-related. My floral arrangements, landscape designs, and garden plans all show the same style.
One thing I have learned is that there are many ways to apply companion planting. There isn’t just one way and seasoned gardeners will tell you it’s an experiment with trial and error to find the best combinations that benefit the plants involved. Of course, there are basic guidelines and what plants *tend* to do in combination, but it doesn’t work the same way for every garden.
Soil nutrients, the health of the soil, the amount of sun/shade involved, typical pests, the type of vegetation nearby, and many other factors can all affect the outcome.
You get to play with the combinations and find out which ones work best for you and then enjoy the combinations together. You get to play with colors and textures and create a beautiful and functional space.
So with that in mind, I am going to share my garden plan with what I am planting together and then give you a list of links for you to other gardeners’ experiences with companion planting. This way you can see some other perspectives and decide for yourself how you want to combine the plants in your own garden. I chose to make 7 groups:
Group 1- In the first row, I planted pumpkins, squash, watermelon, beets, marigolds, and fall broccoli. These are in the bed next to the strawberries so I’m hoping the pollinators visit these plants too.
Group 2- In the second row, I planted strawberries, chives, and borage. Strawberries need to be pollinated in order to produce fruit and the borage and chives attract those pollinators. So that’s a win-win for berry production and the rest of the garden, too!
Group 3- In the third and fourth rows, I planted carrots, tomatoes, peppers, marigolds, and basil. These four plants work together to enhance the flavors of each other and enhance growth. The marigolds help with pest control, also. The rows are planted opposite so that the tomatoes are across from the carrots in each row.
Group 4- In the fifth and sixth rows, I planted sweet potatoes, beans, and summer savory. The beans fix nitrogen which will feed the potatoes and the summer savory is known to enhance the flavor of the beans. Savory is also supposed to be a good culinary companion for green beans- I’ll have to try that out! Sweet potatoes and beans are neutral crops so I placed them in between the tomatoes and the broccoli since those two groups don’t get along.
Group 5 – In the seventh row, cucumbers, dill, zucchini, and kale are growing together. I had originally planned to put the zucchini in the row with the pumpkins and squash but thought that might be too close. The squash and zucchini can cross-pollinate which would affect the fruit of both. So I planted the zucchini in the row on the opposite side of the garden.
Group 6- In rows eight, broccoli, celery, beets, and onions are growing happily together. Celery is known to enhance the flavor of things it is planted near and the onions provide some protection from pests here.
Group 7- In row nine I planted cabbage, celery, and onions. Again, celery enhances the flavor and onions again offer protection from bugs.
Group 8- In rows ten and half of eleven I planted my potatoes. There are three varieties here, red, white, and blue. Half of row twelve has some lettuce and chamomile as well.
Here is my garden plan for those groups:
One thing I have found as I have researched companion planting is that there are many different perspectives and combinations. Some outright contradict each other. So I am leaving you with a list of articles that I have found helpful and trust to help you begin your own research.
Companion Planting- Utilizing Nature’s Diversity to Improve the Health of Your Garden from High Mowing Seeds
Natural Pest Control – How To Plant Mixed Herbs and Vegetables To Deter Pests from Garden Therapy
Companion Planting to Control the Insects in Your Garden from The Spruce
19 Plants That Repel Insects from The Spruce
Companion Planting Guide: 10 Veggies That Should Grow Together from Farmers Almanac
Companion Planting 101 from Trees.org
As I said before, companion planting is more of an art and a trial and error experience. We can build upon the experiences of those who have gone before us and discover what works for our particular garden. There is so much to learn and discover about the plants, their properties and how they work together. I feel that I have only begun to scratch the surface but the fun is in the process of learning, so enjoy the journey!