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Around the YardKaty ShookNC Cooperative ExtensionCarrots Love Tomatoes: Companion Planting for the Home Gardener Companion planting, the idea of establishing two or more plants in close proximityfor cultural benefit, is a tested practice that dates back to the time before colonialsettlement. However, it can be easily applied in the home garden today, reducingmaintenance and increasing productivity for homeowners. Native Americans in the region were known for practicing cultivation of “The ThreeSisters.” Beans, pumpkins and corn were planted together, allowing each plant to benefitthe other. Corn acted as a structure for the beans to climb on, the beans fixed nitrogen inthe air thus improving the soil, and the pumpkins produced large leaves which acted as aliving mulch, retaining moisture and reducing weeds. It was the Native Americansdemonstration of this practice that ensured the survival of many new colonial settlers in thearea. Companion planting research has continued and further ideas have been developed.Specific plant combinations are known to distract pests, repel pests, improve thesurrounding soil quality, act as windbreaks, and provide and create plant and beneficialinsect habitat. Diversity in the garden also helps discourage pest damage. A commonexample of companion planting in the home garden is the use of African marigolds in closeproximity to summer vegetables. Marigolds exude chemicals from their roots and canopythat repel vegetable damaging nematodes. Spiny pumpkin stems also act as a companion,repelling types of borers and damaging mammals. Other ideas include planting Tomatoes, Parsley and Basil with Asparagus; Beansand Marigold with Eggplant; Strawberries with Spinach; and Marigolds, Cucumbers andCarrots with Tomatoes. Keep in mind while some plants can act as allies, others can act asenemies. Avoid planting dill with carrots; and onions with peas. When planted together, companion plants are able to thrive, produce a higherquality and higher yield and minimize environmental impact. Consider trying a simplecombination in the garden this year. For more information on companion planting, contact Katy Shook at the ChowanCounty Cooperative Extension office, 482-6585.