Companion planting is a type of wisdom that comes with thousands of years of experience. Basically, this just means planting more than one type of plant in an area to maximize the benefits that come from not only diversity itself, but also from the different specific characteristics each plant has. Benefits include stronger, healthier plant growth, pest control, shade, attracting beneficial bugs, etc. Regardless of the exact mechanisms of action, companion planting increases diversity, which is always a good thing. Diversity confuses bugs and gives them a less hospitable environment to call home. It also helps quell the spreading of diseases, while actually simultaneously feeding the soil to give your intended crop a boost!
Companion plants are good for:
deterring pests, attracting beneficial plants, diversity, structure support, and soil health
There’s a lot to know when it comes to companion planting. Most knowledge comes from trial and error. But ultimately, it comes down to reading the plant to see what it likes and wants. When interplanting it’s important to know which plants are friends and which plants are less desired. For example, beans love to be planted with beets or corn but are actually stunted when planted too closely to garlic.
Companion plants are super successful when used to deter garden pests. For example, tansy, a delicate little flower we have throughout the farm, does an excellent job at deterring ants, cabbage moths, Japanese beetles, and squash bugs! Companion plants are also used to attract beneficial bugs through the garden gates. Our big beautiful zinnias provide an excellent home for ladybugs, which then feed on aphids and cabbage flies. Additionally, companion planting can feed the soil, for better plant health overall. For example, carrots, with their long taproots can actually pull nutrients up from the depths of the soil for plants with shallower roots to use. So you can see, a diverse garden is a happy garden.
Check out this chart for a larger look at companion planting!