Plant Compatible Varieties Together for Optimal Organic Production
Companion planting is an easy way to grow a successful and resilient organic garden. Arranging certain crops together uses each variety's natural characteristics to function complimentary with one another. Similar to a teacher designing a kindergarten classroom seating chart, arrange your garden in a synergistic way to prevent predictable conflicts. These simple gardening hacks allow you to maximize space, reduce pests, balance soil nutrients, and have larger and healthier harvests, all without chemicals.
Companion planting can be done in any sized-garden, from a patio container to a bursting backyard vegetable oasis. Here are 3 ways to grow a healthier organic garden:
1. Arrange varieties by height to give each plant the amount of light it needs.
Zucchini plants grow enormous leaves and need full sun to be able to produce plenty of fruit, while other varieties such as salad greens prefer the shade for cooler temperatures to thrive. You can easily create a microclimate in your garden by letting varieties like these work together. Plant zucchini next to lettuce so the zucchini can leaf-out, while giving the lettuce shade to produce sweet and tender foliage. Plant these close together to maximize space in your garden, and each will benefit from their proximity to one another.
2. Organically balance a healthy insect population by using flowers to attract pollinators and scents to confuse the pests. No Pesticides required!
- Incorporate flowering plants to have a consistent population of bees and butterflies throughout the growing season. Nasturtium flowers do well planted near cucumbers because not only do they repel cucumber beetles, but also provide habitat for insects that are predatory to pests.
- Use marigolds throughout the garden to prevent predatory-nematodes that live in the soil and destroy your vegetable crops. These flowers have a scent that acts as a natural deterrent for pests in soil. Sow marigolds each year because the beneficial effects are greater the following season.
- For larger garden pests (ex: mice or deer), incorporate potent herbs such as chives or mint to naturally keep them away from your future bounty.
3. Plant varieties together that take up different trace minerals in the soil for compatibility.
- Legumes (beans and peas) are beneficial to grow because of how they interact with the soil. Legumes are a unique plant family because they convert the nitrogen in the soil to an available form for other plants to benefit from. Nitrogen is one of the most important soil nutrients, but it has to be converted into a usable form to be absorbed by plants. Corn loves growing next to beans because it is an especially heavy nitrogen feeder!
- Plant basil right next to your tomatoes. This is because of a synergistic effect these varieties have on balancing soil nutrient levels, absorbing different minerals from the soil composition. Not only do tomatoes & basil like growing next to each other, they also make for a delicious flavor combo.
Here is a helpful chart from Vegetable Gardening Life of different plant varieties and their corresponding companion plants.
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