Monday, April 4, 2011 Post By: Grayne Wetzky

Companion plants

Starting a vegetable garden is a great way to use parts of your yard. It is fun and educational, provides easy exercise but most of all is a great way to get free and completely clean organic food.

Most home vegetable gardeners try to minimize, or eliminate, pesticides in their gardens. This leaves your crops especially vulnerable to pests and disease. It is possible to create your own organic pesticide, but this is often not very effective. Personally, I avoid all forms of pesticide, organic or not. While this means I have to deal with pests in my garden, it is possible to control pest naturally using the ancient knowledge of companion plants.

Companion plants are plants that do particularly well together. This can be a great way for home gardeners to increase the yield and protect crops without having to use chemicals.

There are many different reasons why some plants make good companions. Some plants will trap nutrients in the soil that are beneficial to other plants. Other plants might provide shade or shelter for less robust plants. Many herbs can improve the flavor of some vegetables, while other might repel pests and even confuse them so they can't find their preferred host plants. Finally, some plants attract beneficial insect such as ladybugs that will help protect your plants from attacks.

Another benefit of using companion plants is that compatible plants can be planted closer together than most other plants. This is a great benefit for small garden spaces or square foot gardens.

Companion planting is an ancient technique that has been used by cultures all over the world. In North America, native Americans famously planted 'the three sisters' together. Maize, beans and squash is a perfect example of companion planting. The maize provides support for the beans, while the beans trap nitrogen in the soil for the maize and the squash. Finally the squash provides ground cover that suppresses weeds and preserves moisture.

Some well know companion plants include tomato and carrot, beans and most vegetables, onions and cabbage and asparagus and parsley. If you are planning a vegetable garden it is definitely worth checking out a more comprehensive list of companion plants.

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