Companion Planting for a Greener Garden

An Organic Way to Control Pests and Build Better Soil

Every gardener will tell you that marigolds deter pests. They keep beetles away from your beans and squash bugs away from your zucchini. Tomatoes find marigolds very companionable because they help prevent root rot.

Marigolds, onions, garlic and mint all act as deterrents to pests that can harm your vegetables. But simply scattering these common pest controllers around your garden may benefit some plants, but harm others.

White garlic and onions work well with tomatoes, peppers and squash, but they will stunt the growth of your beans and peas. While marigolds deter many a pest, the dreaded red spider mite is attracted to them. Spider mites like arid climates and tomato plants. If spider mites give you grief, plant coriander with your tomatoes instead.

Dill will keep your cabbages healthy, but carrots will fail to thrive in its presence. Mint works well in your garden, but can be invasive, resulting in its becoming something of a nutrient hog.
Companion planting is an important part of your defense against pests in the garden. Pest control, though, is only one of the benefits of this centuries old practice.

Onions and beans may not play well together, but cucumbers, corn and eggplant can all be planted with beans. These vegetables all like the same soil and climate conditions, but don't compete for nutrients. Plant a little marigold to keep away the bad bugs and you'll have a bountiful bed.

The aforementioned vegetables are also seasonally companionable. That doesn't necessarily mean everything planted together needs to come to fruition at the same time.

Planting radishes or lettuces along side slower growing melons or spaghetti squash makes for efficient use of space. When the quicker growing radishes and lettuces are ready for harvest, the melons and squash will be in need of more room. This practice also helps keep your soil healthy. Akin to crop rotation and allowing fields to lie fallow, varying harvesting times helps prevent your soil from being overworked.

The combination of pest control, of shared conditions, and efficient use of land make companion planting a favored practice of the organic gardener. If done properly, companion planting can greatly reduce the need for pesticides, increase vegetable yields and keep your soil healthy through rotational plantings and harvests.

Done right, a companionable garden will enjoy more beneficial bugs and suffer from fewer pests. The growing season will be extended and your plants will be healthier. This results in more plentiful bounty as well as healthier soil.

Utilizing companion planting along with natural fertilizers and mulch, and using only natural pest controls when faced with an infestation, results in a healthy garden. As more gardeners return to organic methods of growing food and ornamentals, fewer chemicals from synthetic fertilizers and pesticides leach into the earth. This makes for a healthier planet.