Companion planting is the practice of growing two or more species of plants that are beneficial to one another in close proximity. There are multiple ways that these plants help one another, including pollination, pest control, habitat for insects, space maximization, natural trellising and increase in crop production.
Some plants provide necessary nutrients that allow other plants to thrive. For example, legumes provide nitrogen compounds to other plants, such as peas and beans planted with corn.
On the other hand, garlic, onions and shallots hinder the growth of beans. Don’t plant these pairs together as they can limit each other’s growth: pole beans and beets, dill and carrots, sage and cucumbers, onions and beans, or onions and peas. Remember, tomatoes and potatoes can be attacked by the same blight, and the same worm likes tomatoes and corn, so avoid planting those close to one another.
Pest control is another benefit of companion planting. Marigolds are great beetle deterrents. Crops that see a lot of beetle damage are beans, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, potatoes, pumpkins, squash and tomatoes. Nasturtiums help to deter aphids, beetles and bugs, in general.
Weed control can be accomplished by fast-growing, big-leaf plants like squash, so try a few with corn, melons and pumpkins. Potatoes grow well with beans, cabbage, corn, eggplant and peas. One of our favorites – the tomato – works well with asparagus, carrots, celery, cucumbers, lettuce, onions, parsley and peppers. Be adventurous this year and try a few of these companion planting suggestions.
By Brian Sparks, WVU Extension Service Agent – Fayette and Nicholas Counties