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Companion Planting in the Vegetable Garden

Companion plants tomatoes and marigoldsCompanion planting means growing certain plants together with the hope and intent that one will benefit another or that both will benefit each other. Companion planting is a bit of art and science; not all of the claims for companion planting have been scientifically proven, but anecdotal evidence and collected garden wisdom seem to support keeping some plants close and others at arm’s length.

One of the most helpful influences one plant may have for another is the ability to repel pests and or attract beneficial insects. Other plants–mostly legumes–aid other plants by helping to enrich the soil. If you decide to give companion planting a try, keep in mind that companion plants do not need to be bosom buddies. Vegetable garden companions will still have a positive impact even if they are many feet away or several planting beds apart.

Based on collected garden wisdom this chart gives you the companion planting friends (that will enhance growth) and enemies (that will hinder growth) for 38 commonly grown vegetables:

Vegetable Companions (enhance growth) Antagonists (hinder growth)
 Asparagus  Tomatoes repel asparagus beetles; nasturtiums, parsley, and basil help growth. Onions, garlic, chives, gladiolus
 Beans Potatoes repel Mexican bean beetles; rosemary repels insects, catnip repels flea beetles. To help growth: beets with bush beans, carrots, peas, cauliflower, cabbage with bush beans, eggplant, cucumbers, radishes with pole beans, summer savory, celery with bush beans, strawberries, petunia, parsnips with bush beans, sunflower with bush beans. Beets and cabbage family with pole beans, onion family, kohlrabi, sunflower with pole beans, gladiolus, fennel
 Beets  Bush beans, cabbage, lettuce, onions, kohlrabi, lima beans. Pole beans
 Broccoli  Onion family, herbs; see Cabbage See Cabbage
Brussels Sprouts  Carrots, herbs See Cabbage
 Cabbage Celery repels cabbage worms, onion family deters maggots; rosemary, sage, thyme repel insects. To help growth: beets, carrots, bush beans, lettuce, spinach, cucumbers, kale, potatoes, aromatic herbs, dill, sage, mint, chamomile, nasturtiums. Strawberries, tomatoes, pole beans
 Carrots Beans and peas add nutrients; onion, leeks, chives repel carrot flies; rosemary and sage repel insects; cabbage and Brussels sprouts repel insects. To help growth tomatoes, peppers, leaf lettuce, red radishes. Dill, celery, parsnips
 Cauliflower  See Cabbage See Cabbage
 Celery Beans and peas add nutrients; early potatoes repel insects; soybeans repel chinch bugs. To help growth: cucumbers, cantaloupes, squash, cabbage, parsley, pumpkin. Tomatoes
 Cucumbers Beans and peas add nutrients; radishes repel cucumber beetles. To help growth: corn, tomatoes, cabbage, lettuce, sunflowers, dill, nasturtiums. Potatoes, sage and aromatic herbs
 Eggplant Green beans repel Coloradopotato beetles. To help growth: peppers. None
 Kale Cabbage, aromatic herbs None
 Kohlrabi Beets, lettuce, onions Tomatoes, pole beans
 Leeks Celery, carrots, celeriac, onions Tomatoes, pole beans
 Lettuce Beets, carrots, radishes with leaf lettuce, kohlrabi, strawberries, cabbage, onion family, basil, cucumbers None
 Lima Beans Beets, radishes None
 Melons Corn; nasturtiums and radishes repel cucumber beetles. None
 Onion Family: bulb onions, garlic, leeks, scallions, shallots Beets, tomatoes, broccoli, peppers, kohlrabi, lettuce, cabbage, leeks, summer savory, carrots, strawberries, chamomile, parsnips, turnips Beans, peas, asparagus
 Parsley Asparagus, tomatoes, corn None
 Parsnips Bush beans, peppers, potatoes, peas, radishes, onions, garlic Carrots, celery, caraway
 Peas Radishes, carrots, cucumbers, corn, beans, turnips, celery, potatoes Onion family, gladiolus
 Peppers Tomatoes, eggplant, onions, carrots, parsnips Fennel, kohlrabi
 Potatoes Beans and corn repel insects; eggplant as a trap plant for Colorado potato beetle. To help growth: cabbage, peas, marigolds, horseradish at corners, parsnips. Pumpkin, squash, cucumbers, turnips, rutabagas, tomatoes, sunflowers, raspberry, apples
 Pumpkin Corn, eggplant, radishes Potatoes
 Radishes Cucumbers repel insects. To help growth: peas, pole beans, leaf lettuce, nasturtiums, carrots, lima beans, chervil, parsnips. Hyssop
 Soybeans All vegetables None
 Spinach Cabbage, strawberries Potatoes
 Squash Corn, nasturtiums Potatoes
 Strawberries Lettuce, spinach, beans, onions, borage  Cabbage
 Tomatoes Asparagus and basil repel insects: To help growth: peppers, celery, onions, carrots, cucumbers, parsley, mint, chives, marigolds, nasturtiums. Corn, dill, potatoes, cabbage, kohlrabi, fennel
 Turnips and Rutabagas Most vegetables, peas, onion family Potatoes

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4 Comments

  1. I love the Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide and use it regularly. However, I struggle with understanding the spacing to leave between two plants that are not good companions (i.e., incompatible plants). I only have two 4×8 vegetable boxes, oriented north to south, so not a lot of room and I rotate crops. I use a square foot gardening method, sort of. Here are my questions: For example, how far away from my beans or peas should I plant the onions or chives? If I put a square of kale or lettuce between the legumes and the alliums, will that work? I still have two tomatoes growing on the trellis on the north end of each of box, but it’s time to plant my winter greens. How far away from the tomatoes do I need to plant the kale? If I plant a square of something like lettuce between the tomatoes and kale, is that sufficient? Thanks!

    • There are no scientific or university studies on companion planting. Companion planting suggestions are based on anecdotal evidence shared by gardeners through the years. It has been observed that some crops simply don’t do well when planted close together. Given the small space you have to grow, plant non-companions as far apart as possible and then record the results–that is your observations of how each plant does. Experience will be the best teacher. Growing in small beds can be a challenge when it comes to companion planting or crop rotation.

  2. Thank you for that information. My grandmother always told me that gardening was as much an art as a science. 😊 She was a wise, and prolific gardener.

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