Have you heard this one?
A mushroom walks up to a party and the bouncer says, “Sorry man, I can’t let you in.” To which the mushroom replies, “Aww, c’mon, I’m a fungi!”
Like many veggies, this mushroom was in desperate need of some buddies… he needed someone to hang and grow with! Today, we’re looking to help your plants be friends or rather — COMPANIONS!
Companion planting is the planting of different type of crops in close to each other for pest control, maximizing the use of your garden plot, and to otherwise increase crop productivity. Basically, it’s the buddy system! Companion plants can help their buddies grow in a variety of ways by providing extra nutrients, blocking out weeds and pests, or protecting them from harsh sun or wind.
How do these plants keep pests at bay? Some plants have repellants or toxic compounds that deter harmful insects. Other plants are highly aromatic, often masking the smells of their companion plants and thus tricking pests into thinking that that garden isn’t worth the munch! Of course, companion plants can’t block out every pest. For concerns about bigger critters, you may want to look into pest fencing.
Like most of gardening, companion planting is not a set-in-soil science. Each garden is different and what may work for your neighbor may not work for you. For that reason, it’s always important to pay attention to your garden — check in often, take note of what seems to work and what doesn’t, get creative and try out some different combinations! Take companion plants into consideration when you are beginning to crop map your garden and keep an eye on the heights for proper shading. Try not to completely block the sun for any of your shorter crops. Plants that are antagonistic (not compatible) should be placed in different gardens or opposite ends of larger raised beds.
There are plenty of companion plant guides out there, we find this one to be super helpful for ten common veggies! Now get out there and start experimenting!