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Companion Planting: Vegetable Garden Guide

What is companion planting?

Companion planting is the close planting of different plants that enhance and improve each other’s growth and/or protect each other from pests. Most gardeners are already ‘companion’ planting without realizing it. As a vegetable gardener, like many of our readers, rarely plant just one type of plant in a bed. A majority of hobby gardeners don’t own large amounts of land and of course need to make the most out of the space that we have for our plants and gardens. The most effective way to utilize space can be debated, but a common practive for maximizes space, yield, and quality of a vegetable crop is companion planting.

How do companions help each other?

  • Use garden space more efficiently – vines can create a groundcover while taller plants grow upwards
  • Attract beneficial insects – butterflies, bees, and other beneficial insects could be attracted to your garden
  • Help each other grow – taller plants may create shade for sensitive shorter plants
  • Prevent pest problems – plants can help attract, confuse, or repel pests
  • Provide food – plants may expel nutrients that can be absorbed by their neighboring plant

What is a beneficial bug?

Beneficial bugs assist in pollinating plants or help control pests by feeding on them.

Common beneficial bugs:

  • Parasitoid Wasps – feed on aphids, caterpillars, and grubs
  • Lacewing Larvae – feed on aphids
  • Ladybug Larvae – feed on aphids
  • Ground Beetles – feed on ground-dwelling pests
  • Hover Flies and Robber Flies – feed on insects, including leafhoppers and caterpillars

Companion Planting Table Guide

PlantGrow NearWhy? What is the benefit?
BasilLettuce, tomatoesImproves the flavor profile
Pole BeansMarigolds, potatoesMarigolds and potatoes will repel Mexican Bean Beetles
BroccoliNasturtiums, marigoldsMarigolds repel cabbage moths, Nasturtiums repel aphids
Brussels SproutsNasturtiums, marigoldsMarigolds repel cabbage moths, Nasturtiums repel aphids
CabbageTomatoes and celeryTomatoes and celery repel cabbage worms
CauliflowerTomatoes and celeryTomatoes and celery repel cabbage worms
CarrotsOnions, leeks, wormwoodOnions, leeks, and wormwood repel carrot flies
ChivesApples, berries, carrots, grapes, peas, tomatoesChives improve the flavor and growth of companions, and deters aphids and Japanese beetles
CornSoybeansSoybeans deter chinch bugs
CucumbersRadishes and SunflowersRadishes deter cucumber beetles and sunflowers provide much appreciated shade
DillCabbage family plantsImproves growth and flavor of cabbage family plants
EggplantGreen BeansGreen beans deter Colorado Potato Beetles
RadishesLettuce and NasturtiumsLettuce tenderizes radishes and Nasturtiums improve radishes’ flavor

These plants generally help most vegetable crops:

Marigolds – Stimulate vegetable growth and deters bean beetles, aphids, potato bugs, squash bugs, nematodes, and maggots

Marjoram – Stimulates vegetable growth

Oregano – Deters many insects and pests

Tarragon – Improves vegetables’ flavor and growth

Plant these vegetables together to make the most use of space and deter pests:

Tomatoes repel the caterpillars that chew on cabbage leaves.

Onions deter most pests.

Onions and Leeks repel carrot flies.

Radishes deter cucumber beetles.

Radishes draws leaf-miners away from spinach to chew on radish leaves – which doesn’t harm the radish underground.

Lettuce tenderises summer radishes.


Companion Planting – Garden Examples

Below are some example gardens with a ‘Main’ plant as well as several ‘Companion’ plants. Your layouts will vary based on the size and shape of your garden. You will want to make sure that your ‘Main’ plant in centralized position to take full advantage of the technique. Placing your ‘Main’ plant on the outside of your garden would not completely defeat the purpose, but it will not be nearly as effective and depending on the plant it may not be effective at all. If you are following this guide, I suggest that you plant your ‘Main’ plant first in a central location and work from there.

Main: Beetroot

  • Good Companions:
    • Brussels Sprout
    • Broccoli
    • Onions
    • Cabbages
    • Swiss Chard

Main: Cabbage

  • Good Companions:
    • Brussels Sprout
    • Broccoli
    • Tomatoes
    • Kale
    • Swiss Chard
    • Spinach

Main: Carrots

  • Good Companions:
    • Lettuce
    • Cabbages
    • Leek
    • Onions
    • Peas
    • Radishes

Main: Potatoes

  • Good Companions:
    • Corn
    • Cabbages
    • Beans
    • Squash

Main: Tomatoes

  • Good Companions:
    • Carrots
    • Cabbages
    • Onions

Main: Onions

  • Good Companions:
    • Carrots
    • Parsnips
    • Lettuce
    • Cabbages
    • Beetroot

Main: Radishes

  • Good Companions:
    • Lettuce
    • Spinach
    • Parsnips
    • Carrots
    • Peas
    • Cucumber

Main: Swiss Chard

  • Good Companions:
    • Beetroot
    • Onions
    • Cabbages

Main: Peas

  • Good Companions:
    • Corn
    • Beans
    • Radishes
    • Carrots
    • Turnip
    • Cucumber

Main: Cucumber

  • Good Companions:
    • Corn
    • Beans
    • Radishes
    • Cabbages

Main: Lettuce

  • Good Companions:
    • Radishes
    • Carrots
    • Parsnips
    • Beetroot

Main: Parsnips

  • Good Companions:
    • Onions
    • Lettuce
    • Radishes

Companion planting in your vegetable garden can help you grow and harvest higher quality, pest-free crops while also making the most out of the gardening space that you have. I hope that this quick overview and guide will help you build a garden that thrives while growing your vegetable or other plants of choice.