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A Beginners Guide to Companion Planting

October 1, 2017

If you want to live the good life and grow your own fruit and vegetables it’s a good idea to get to grips with companion planting. Companion planting can make the most of small spaces and vastly improve the outcome of your crop yields. It works well because some plants deep roots improve the soil structure and bring nutrients to the surface of the soil for those plants which are spread out and are shallow rooted.

It’s a form of polyculture which was practiced successfully by native aboriginal Americans. Another benefit is that growing plants together can help to provide greater resistance from insects, pests, and diseases. So, for the perfect companions for the cabbage family, you should plant a range of veg that do not require a lot of space such as celery and broccoli. Adding in some rosemary, sage mint and dill, will help to repel insets because the aroma of the herbs will keep the insects away from the cabbage, reducing such things as cabbage white fly and butterflies which might otherwise be attracted to the cabbage. On the downside, it’s best not to plant cabbage family alongside the deadly nightshade family which includes vegetables like tomatoes, potatoes, aubergines, and peppers, because they will suck al the vitamin c from the soil and is also nutrient hungry which will starve the cabbage plant family and prevents them from thriving.

Growing carrots is best done with potatoes, peas, beans any other members of the nightshade family. As such, they are perfectly suited to the same soil just make sure that they’re given plenty of space to grow as you could end up stunting your carrots. Tomatoes also provide great shade for carrots delicate leaves and help the carrots tolerate hot sun. Beware though of adding any coriander or dill to your carrot patch, as harmful gasses will be given off which will damage your carrots. Similarly growing parsnips and carrots together isn’t a match made in heaven either, because they are both equally susceptible to carrot fly and planting both together can concentrate this risk.

If you’re a cucumber lover, plant some nasturtiums alongside them, as this helps to repel cucumber beetles and spiders which love munching on cucumbers. Avoid pungent herbs like dill or sage, or basil as this will affect the delicate cucumber flavour and its ability to absorb water, leaving you with less than healthy cucumbers.

Growing sweet alyssum with potatoes can help to ward off insects like potato beetles and leafhoppers increasing the potatoes disease resistance. Planting horseradish also helps to improve disease resistance too. Don’t be tempted to grow your spuds near raspberries, cucumbers or tomatoes though because this can make the plants more susceptible to fungal diseases. Whatever you decide to grow, and harvest, make sure you obey the companion planting rules. It’ll make your life a lot easier, and give you a great crop to harvest throughout the seasons.

Potato and Companion planting

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