Companion planting can enhance growth of other plants

Laurie Garretson

By Laurie Garretson

If you have been gardening for a few years, chances are good that you have heard of companion planting. Maybe it's a common practice you use in your gardens.

What is companion planting? Well, it's the practice of using certain plants to repel or attract beneficial insects to your garden. It's also planting different plants together that benefit each other. In some cases, companion plants are used to help enhance the growth and flavor of other plants.

The practice of companion planting used throughout the landscape is a very important part of integrated pest management. It will help to balance out your landscape and allows nature to do its thing. Companion planting can help get rid of certain bad insects, without losing any of the good ones.

Also, keep in mind that not all companion plants will work in the same fashion for every gardener. The location, the season and weather conditions can all play a part in the effectiveness of each plant and insect. What works for one gardener during a certain season just may not work for you at a particular time. This is a practice that you just have to experiment with.

So this week, I'll give you a few suggestions for companion planting to try out in your own landscape. Next week, I'll continue with a few more companion plant suggestions. Here they are:

Beans - All types of beans and peas (legumes) will enrich your soil with nitrogen. This means beans and peas are beneficial to all plants. This is why so many gardeners use legumes as cover crops. Once the legume crop dies off, that plot of soil is more enriched with nitrogen and ready to be replanted.

Bee balm - Planted with tomatoes, it will help to improve the taste and growth of each plant, and it will attract bees and other beneficial insects.

Beets - Will grow better if planted with garlic and mints. The garlic can actually add to their flavor. Beets are very good for adding minerals to your soil. Beet greens are delicious and are loaded with magnesium. Beets also grow well with kohlrabi.

Borage - Good plant to deter tomato hornworms and pesky cabbage worms. A great plant to attract bees and beneficial wasps. Will add trace minerals, vitamin C, calcium, potassium and mineral salts to your soil. Good to plant with strawberries. Will usually self seed itself. Borage flowers are edible.

Brassica - Plants like broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower and turnips are in this family. All the plants in this family grow well planted near dill, rosemary, peppermint and sage. Avoid planting near plants in the nightshade family. Nightshades are plants like peppers, tomatoes, eggplants and potatoes.

Broccoli - To improve the flavor of broccoli, plant it near potatoes, celery or onions. Broccoli makes a good companion plant for dill, garlic, lettuce, radishes, sage and nasturtiums. Do not plant broccoli near strawberries, rue or mustard.

Cabbage - Plant near celery for a healthier plant. Best not to plant near strawberries, eggplant, lettuce or peppers.

Carrots - Best not to plant near carrots or parsnips. Tomatoes have been know to stunt the growth of carrots when planted in close proximity to one another. Good to plant near lettuce or onions.

Catnip - Will deter several pests like flea beetles, ants, weevils, aphids, squash bugs and Japanese beetles.

These are just a few of the companion plants from my list, look for more next week.

Until next time, let's try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to laurie@vicad.com or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.