Friday, 9 April 2010

Companion Planting

This year I hope to enhance the organic credentials of our plot by being a bit more aware of how plants help one another. I never use chemicals for gardening but that's as far as I have really taken organic gardening.I haven't really investigated how I can encourage nature to help me. Probably the only companion planting I have ever tried is nasturtiums (which worked wonders at attracting the black fly away from my beans) although I only grew these originally because I like the bright flowers and they taste great in salads.
This year I have reviewed my master plan to try to accommodate planting crops together that help one another. I always find working out my crop rotation a bit mind boggling. You see we started growing things in the first year on parts of the plot which were the least overgrown. This now means that a straight forward front to back rotation hasn't really formed and my crop rotation is more just about not planting something in the same place each year.

So this year I am complicating things a little bit further by restricting which plants grow together. So far I have decided that I will grow nasturtiums again, these have so many uses from their aphid attracting qualities to their edible flowers, leaves and seed pods (which make great capers). I will plant these once again near my beans. I have also bought some marigolds from the garden centre.

I have read that  these are beneficial to most crops, I will be planting these between my potatoes and my brassicas. We had a terrible white fly problem last year and so I am hoping the marigolds will help. I have also read that the smell of mint deters white fly but I have yet to decide if I want to introduce mint to the plot as it is quite invasive. I think I prefer to keep this contained in my garden herb patch where I can see it daily and keep a watchful eye on it.
I am hoping to have lots of sunflowers to encourage pollinating insects. The seedlings are doing well so far.

 I will be planting these near the brassicas in hope that the hover flys will eat the white fly. My sweet peas I usually just have in the garden but this year I have grown some for the plot as well and these will be grown with my runner beans which I will be growing next to my sweetcorn because apparently these are happy bedfellows.

Two things that don't get on with beans are onions and beetroot so I am placing these at the opposite end of the plot near to one another and next to my carrots which should also benefit from the onions and garlic. I had originally planned that my courgettes would go next to the potatoes but apparently they do not get on so I have moved them to be next to the brassicas and sunflowers. My broad beans are coming along gradually and will go next to the potatoes and sweetcorn as apparently these things help increase each others yields when grown next to one another.

The only unhappy bedfellows now on my plan may be that the cabbages are a bit too close to the strawberries which can be antagonist although I do not why. Any ideas? Unfortunately my crop rotation dictates that the brassicas must go here so it will just have to be! Maybe they will learn to tolerate each other. I've been finding this whole companion planting thing very interesting so I'd love to hear any things that you practice or know about that will help me garden organically and effectively. There's still just time to change my plan..again!

Companion Planting :
Broad Bean: cabbage,potatoes,leeks,carrots      
Runner Bean: sweet peas, corn                            
Cabbage: potatoes,thyme,mint,sage,beans      
Carrots: sage,leeks,peas,lettuce,onions
Cucurbits: nasturtium,borage,sunflowers         
Corn: potatoes,peas,beans,dill                  
Onions: beetroot,carrots,lettuce,peas
Radish: peas,lettuce,nasturtium,turnip
Potatoes: cabbage,mint,parsely,broadbeans,corn,cauliflower,lavender    

Broad Bean: beetroot, garlic, onions
Runner Bean: beetroot,sunflower
Cabbage: strawberry,tomatoes
Carrots: dill
Cucurbits: potatoes
Onions: beans
Radish: potatoes
Potatoes: cucurbits,peas,radish


  1. Nice! Companion planting really does help... love the fava pic, too!

  2. I've always wonderd wy I always see nasturtiums in an allotment... I only knew you can eat the flowers. thanks for all the useful info. Sadly can't help you with your questions,

  3. Your crop rotation system sounds similar to mine and now I can't find the notebook where I recorded what was planted where last year :) Have you come across the 'The Two Sisters'? It's a variation on 'The Three Sisters' as described here :

  4. Dear Nina, This posting, which I have found totally fascinating, possible sums up why for so many years I have not grown vegetables. They are, if done properly as you clearly are doing, SO complicated. All that crop rotation and companion planting makes my head whirl. Nina, I am unable to remember how to finish sentences I have just begun, let alone think back to what I planted last year, and where.

    I do so admire you. Have a very restful weekend.

  5. Hi, Interesting post. I have tied to garden along lots of different methods over the years and, in my experience, companion planting does have its benefits when also following an organic method of gardening.I have also tried gardening following the phases of the moon. That's a labour of love! This year is a combination of all of them but mainly following the advice as given by Mr Middleton's radio broadcasts during World War Two. His advice still stands good today.

  6. Crop rotation can be a nightmare. I have my potatoes followed by legumes followed by brassicas followed by roots. As for companion planting, I grew borage last year, which is edible and also attracts lots of pollinators to the plot. I'm growing it again this year.

  7. Hi Everyone, thanks for your comments and for dropping by. I'm glad you have found the post of interest.
    Dirty Girl Gardening, thank you for the compliment and encouragement for companion planting.
    Joost, welcome. I hope I have encouraged you to try nasturtiums.
    Dear Anna, thank you for the link to the article which I read with great interest. I am also relieved that I am not alone in my approach to crop rotation!
    Dear Edith, thank you for your kindness once again, yes vegetables do require some effort but the rewards are great. I am no great cook so I like to use really good produce to make up for my inability to perform miracles in the kitchen. Home grown veggies have so much flavour they don't need me to be a domestic goddess! I love my flower garden too though, just as much but it brings a different type of pleasure and reward.
    Wartimegardening, thanks for stopping by. I am very interested in what you are doing and so will take some time to have a good read of your blog.

  8. I never knew Marigolds warded the whiteflies off! I sowed Nasturtiums for my tomatoes and sowed sunflowers too. Of course, I am just learning about the Companion planting... This post was very informative!

  9. Hi Chandramouli and thanks for stopping by. I am glad you enjoyed the post...I have high hopes for the marigolds so we shall see, I am willing to try after last years infestation.Good luck with your companion planting and if you learn any tips please pass them on.

  10. Hi Jo, sorry I have only just received your post even though it looks like you sent it earlier today, the wonders of modern technology not doing their bit! I have only once tried borage but it never transplanted and wilted and died, you have inspired me to maybe try again. It looks so pretty in salads but I never knew it was good for pollinators so thanks for the info... I'm jealous of your crop rotation it sounds so lovely and organised. I hope next year I might reach a more organised state with this!

  11. Hmmm...I'm not sure about mint and white fly. This spring, for some unknown reason, our Chocolate Mint that we have planted in the garden, seems overrun with white fly! Perhaps spearmint would be more effective? They don't seem to have found our spearmint plants yet.

  12. Companion planting is really good. MARIGOLDS seem strong enough through the smell to deter some pests, but snails and slugs will assemble to have feast on young and sweet shoots of marigolds.

    Putrajaya Malaysia

  13. Crop rotation is hard enough, and I still don't have it down entirely - I just don't grow things where I have grown them in the last three years, if I can avoid it. But to do a thought-out beneficial crop rotation... maybe next year.

    I have been looking into companion plantings, however. I have known that nasturtiums and marigolds were very good for the vegetable garden - plus they make it look really pretty. I was considering planting borage this year, since I read that it deters squash borer - and I have lots of trouble with that. It seems Jo, here, liked borage, so I just might go ahead and try it - couldn't hurt, right?

  14. Crop rotation and companion planting are two topics that sound so good and look excellent on paper drawings. But when I try to implement some of that in the garden, it can become messy.
    For crop rotation I need 4 areas of same size. But I will always grow more tomatoes and peppers than onions and carrots. So, I cant have 4 areas of same size... things like that made me conclude that crop rotation is something to use as a guideline, not a strict rule. Otherwise I would go insane.

    Regarding marigolds, that are excellent for garden, but now days, there are so many hybrids that have lost the annoying smell and actually don’t help at all, just look good.

    I will introduce in my garden summer savory this year - it should help with aphids on beans.

    You have a lovely blog.

  15. What a fabulously informative post! If only I had more space on my windowsills to try out a few more things but I'm encouraged to hear that my nasturtiums should keep the aphids off my veggies, I only planted them because I knew they were pretty and I love the taste of the leaves! Looks like all of your seedlings are coming on brilliantly.