Companion Planting Made Easy - Organic Gardening


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Companion Planting Made Easy - Organic Gardening

  1. 1. COMPANION PLANTING M ADE EASYExcerpted from Companion Planting, a book from Rodale’s Successful Organic Gardening series (copyright 1994). Reprinted with permission of Weldon Russell Pty. Ltd. Copyright 1995 by Rodale Press, Inc., Emmaus, PA 18098. Fourth Printing 1999
  2. 2. Text: Susan McClurePlant-by-Plant Guide: Sally RothGardening editor: Nancy OndraProject editor: Linda HagerCopy editor: Susan FoxCover and book designer: Judy RossInterior illustrations: Frank Fretz
  3. 3. Contents Introduction ~4~ How Does Companion Planting Work? ~4~ Getting Started with Companions ~7~Growing a Companion Garden ~7~ Plant-by-Plant Guide ~8~
  4. 4. IntroductionW ouldn’t it be great if you encourage your plants to work could just plant your gar- together, sharing water and nutri- den and forget it? Your ents and protecting each other fromplants would grow lush and pesky insects. Companion Plantinghealthy—without you adding lots of Made Easy is your guide to usingfertilizer or worrying about pest time-tested techniques for healthierproblems. Well, any kind of garden plants, bigger harvests, and fewerwill need some care, but you can pest problems. How DoesCompanion Planting Work?In the simplest terms, companion ings of just a few different plantplanting is the technique of combin- species. These large groups of simi-ing two plants for a particular pur- lar plants, called monocultures, arepose. If your crops are regularly prime targets for insect and diseaseattacked by insects, you can use attack. Increasing the diversity ofcompanions to hide, repel, or trap your garden plantings is a naturalpests. Other companions provide and effective way to avoid a mono-food and shelter to attract and pro- culture and minimize pest and dis-tect beneficial insects. And some ease problems.plants grow well together just Technically, adding diversity couldbecause they don’t compete for light be as simple as increasing the num-or rooting space. Expanding the ber of different plants in your gar-diversity of your garden plantings and den. Sounds simple—until youincorporating plants with particularly realize that you have a limiteduseful characteristics are both part of amount of room in your garden,successful companion planting. which is taken up by your favorite crops. But, if you create a plannedCreating Diversity diversity, you can still have good (orIn contrast to the wide diversity of even better) yields from the samenatural systems—like forests and amount of space.prairies—our gardens and farms For instance, instead of growingtend to contain neat, identical plant- the same vegetable cultivars in the 4
  5. 5. same beds every year, try changing the soil as the nodule-bearing rootstheir positions each year, or at least die off and decompose. This nitro-try different cultivars. To get even gen is available during the season tomore diversity, try open-pollinated boost the growth of any companionseeds instead of hybrids. The plants plants growing nearby. The bigfrom open-pollinated seed are all bonus comes when you turn thejust a little different genetically, so foliage and roots of the legumeseven if pests or diseases attack into the soil. When they decay, theysome of the plants, the rest of the can release enough nitrogen to feedcrop may be spared. the next crop you grow. An easy and pleasant way to adddiversity to the vegetable garden is Repelling Pest Insectsto add flowering plants. Mix annual A key part of creating effective cropflowers and herbs in the beds or combinations is using the naturalrows of vegetables, or create per- abilities of the plant to attract, con-manent beds nearby for perennials fuse, or deter insects. Some plantsand bulbs. Besides looking good, produce repellent or toxic com-flowers provide a source of food pounds that chase pests away orand shelter for spiders and benefi- stop them from feeding. In othercial insects that eat or parasitize cases, the aromatic compoundsplant pests. released by plants can mask the scent of companion crops. SummerEnriching the Soil savory, for example, may help hideAll plants withdraw some nutrients your bush beans from pests, whilefrom the soil as they grow, but some tansy is said to repel Colorado pota-actually return more nutrients than to beetles from a potato planting.they consume. Legumes—plants like Garlic releases deterrent aromaspeas, beans, and clover—have a into the air that may chase awaymutually beneficial relationship with insects such as bean beetles andnitrogen-fixing Rhizobium bacteria. potato bugs. Mint may keep cab-These bacteria colonize legume bage loopers off cabbage plants,roots, absorbing up to 20 percent of while basil can discourage tomatothe sugars the plants produce. The hornworms on tomatoes.bacteria use this energy to capture Try pungent plants as an edgingatmospheric nitrogen (nitrogen gas) around garden beds, or mix them inand convert it into nitrogen com- among your crops. Or, if you can’tpounds that plants can use. grow the repellents close enough to Some of this nitrogen goes direct- your crops, try spreading clippingsly back to the host plant. Another of the scented plants over gardenpart of the nitrogen trapped by the beds for the same effect.Rhizobium bacteria is released into 5
  6. 6. Luring Pests from Crops or apply some other type of controlSome plants have an almost irre- measure to the infested plants.sistible appeal for certain pests.Nasturtiums, for instance, are an Sheltering Beneficialexcellent attractant plant because Insectsthey’re a favorite of aphids. Not all insects are garden enemies.Colorado potato beetles find black Many actually help your gardennightshade (Solanum nigrum) grow by eating or parasitizing plantmore alluring than even your best pests. You can encourage these ben-potato plants. eficial creatures to make a home in Attractant plants can protect your your garden by planting theircrops in two ways. First, they act as favorite flowering plants. Growingdecoys to lure pests away from your dill, for example, can attract pest-desirable crops. Second, they make eating spiders, lacewings, and para-it easier to control the pests since sitic wasps, which will help controlthe insects are concentrated on a caterpillars on cabbage, beetles onfew plants. Once pests are cucumbers, and aphids on lettuce.“trapped,” you can pull out the Plants that produce large quantitiesattractant plants (cover them with of easily accessible pollen and nec-paper or plastic bags first, if the tar—like yarrow, fennel, and gold-pests are small or fast-moving) and enrod—provide shelter and supple-destroy them along with the pests, mental food for hungry beneficials. 6
  7. 7. Getting Started with CompanionsWith so many possible plant combi- compatible companions, as well asnations, it can be hard to know helpful growing information. Usewhere to start. To increase your these suggestions as the basis forchances of success, try a compan- your trials.ion planting scheme that has been Also, keep your eyes open forfound effective in scientific studies existing garden plants that you canor that has the confirmation of a use in your own companion plant-wide variety of gardeners from vary- ing experiments. Look closely ating climates. As you gain confi- flowers around your yard to seedence, you can branch out to try which harbor a wealth of beneficialless-proven combinations. insects; you may want to plant more You may want to start by selecting of these attractant plants. If you finda companion for one of your a quick-growing weed or vegetablefavorite crops—tomatoes, for that is crawling with a bumper cropexample. If you look up the of pests, take note—it could make“Tomato” entry on page 38, you’ll a good trap crop to lure pests awayfind recommendations for allies and from your other plants. Growing a Companion GardenCaring for companion plantings get the most out of companionisn’t very different from how you planting, it’s often wise to try a com-normally care for your garden. You bination at least twice; three times isstill need to prepare the soil well, even better. Then you can look atplant at the proper time, and water the overall performance of the com-and fertilize as necessary. bination and make an informed Throughout the season, observe decision on whether it’s worth try-the performance of the companion ing again. You’ll soon build a list ofplantings you’re testing. Keep a plants and techniques that willnotebook where you can record the make your garden more productivesetup and the results of the trials. To and even easier to maintain. 7
  8. 8. Plant-by-Plant Guide grapes were sometimes trellised Asparagus between the asparagus rows. Asparagus officinalis ENEMIES: None known. LILIACEAE GROWING GUIDELINES: Asparagus grows well in most areasALLIES: According to companion that have either winter groundgardening lore, planting pars- freezes or dry seasons. Choose aley or tomatoes with aspara- well-drained spot in full sun, andgus will invigorate both dig in plenty of compost or agedcrops. Interplantings of manure. It’s important to prepareparsley, tomatoes, and basil the soil well, since plants may staymay discourage asparagus in place for 20 years or more.beetles. Many companion Most gardeners startgardeners find that aspara- asparagus from 1-year-oldgus grows well planted crowns. Buy all-male plants ifnear basil. available. Place purchasedCOMPANIONS: crowns 18 to 24 inches (45 toInterplant early 60 cm) apart in a trench that iscrops, such as 12 inches (30 cm) wide and 8lettuce, beets,or spinach,between therows in spring.In summer, add alate planting of let-tuce and spinachwhere the fernyasparagusplants will pro-vide some need-ed shade. InColonial times, 8
  9. 9. inches (20 cm) deep. Allow 4 to 5 make a neat edging along flowerfeet (1.2 to 1.5 m) between rows. borders. Purple-leaved cultivars likeCover with 2 inches (5 cm) of soil. ‘Purple Ruffles’ are great in flowerAdd another 2 inches (5 cm) of soil beds as well as in vegetable andevery 2 weeks until the trench is herb gardens.filled. Mulch well and water regu- ENEMIES: Even in the 1600s, gar-larly during the first 2 years after deners observed that rue and basilplanting, and side-dress with com- did not appear to be good neigh-post or aged manure. Remove and bors. “Something is the matter,”destroy old foliage each spring to noted Nicholas Culpeper, in hiscontrol pests and diseases. Wait to English Physitian and Completeharvest your asparagus until the Herball. “This herb and rue willthird spring after planting. Break never grow together, no, nor nearspears off at soil level. one another.” GROWING GUIDELINES: Basil is Basil very sensitive to cold; wait until the weather and soil are warm before Ocimum basilicum planting outdoors. Sow seed 1⁄8 inch L ABIATAE (3 mm) deep in full sun, or set out transplants after all danger of frostALLIES: Companion gardeners has passed. Space plants 6 to 12believe that basil improves the fla- inches (15 to 30 cm) apart forvor and growth of tomatoes, per- small-leaved types such ashaps because the plants are such ‘Minimum’ or ‘Spicy Globe’; allowgood companions on the table. up to 11⁄2 feet (45 cm) betweenSome are also convinced that basil plants for larger cultivars such asor basil sprays protect tomatoes ‘Genova’ or ‘Piccolo Verde Fino’.from insects and disease, although Water and mulch to keep the soilthis remains unproven by scientific evenly moist. Pinch or cut backresearch. flowering stems to keep the plantCOMPANIONS: Basil is available in producing more leaves.a variety of shapes and sizes, from COMMENTS: Garden lore suggestsneat, small mounds to large, that basil repels flies and mosqui-branching plants. Low-growing, toes: Try tucking a few stems into acompact cultivars like ‘Spicy Globe’ bouquet on the patio table. 9
  10. 10. and flavor of growing beans as well. Bean The beans provide food and shelter Phaseolus spp. for many predatory and parasitic and other genera insects. LEGUMINOSAE COMPANIONS: Climbing pole beans are good companions forALLIES: Companion gardeners corn; they help anchor the cornmaintain that interplanting tomatoes against wind and add nitrogen to theor corn with beans improves the soil. Celery and cucumbers are a fewgrowth and yields of both crops. good companions for interplanting.Some recommend marigolds with ENEMIES: While some companionbeans to repel Mexican bean beetles. gardeners recommend interplantingScientific studies with marigolds garlic with beans to repel insects,show reduced beetle populations, others say that any member of thebut a border planting of French onion family, including garlic, shal-marigolds (Tagetes patula) nega- lots, and chives, will be detrimentaltively affected the beans’ growth. to growth and yield.Companion gardeners also suggestplanting aromatic herbs such as win- GROWING GUIDELINES: Sowter or summer savory and rosemary seed in average to fertile, well-to deter bean beetles. drained soil in full sun. Start plant- To help repel black aphids from ing around 2 weeks after the lastbeans, try intercropping bush beans spring frost date, when the soil iswith garlic, or grow nasturtiums as warm (seeds will rot in cold, weta trap crop. Summer savory, which soil). Make successive plantings at goes well with cooked 2- to 3-week intervals until 2 months beans, is said to before the average date of your first improve the growth fall frost. Plant bush beans 1 to 11⁄2 inches (2.5 to 3.75 cm) deep and 3 to 6 inches (7.5 to 15 cm) apart. 10
  11. 11. Sow pole beans 2 inches (5 cm) when planted near pole beans ordeep and 10 inches (25 cm) apart. field mustard.Pick green beans while young; pick GROWING GUIDELINES: For bestfresh shell beans when plump but root development, beets need atender. Leave dry beans on the sunny site with loose, fertile, well-plants until they rattle in the pod. drained soil that is free of rocks and stones. Sow seed 1 inch (2.5 cm) deep and 2 inches apart about a Beet month before the last spring frost. Beta vulgaris Seedlings often come up in clumps; CHENOPODIACEAE thin to stand 2 inches (5 cm) apart. Transplant the thinnings to fill bareALLIES: Companion gardening lore spots, or enjoy them in salads.holds that beets thrive in the com- Harvest roots when small; pick ten-pany of cabbage and its relatives, as der leaves for cooked greens. Sow awell as with onions; alternate beets fall crop in late a row with onions or kohlrabi. COMMENTS: Leafminers and fleaTry companion plantings of mints beetles are common pests, but usu-(Mentha spp.) or catnip (Nepeta ally cause only cosmetic damagecataria) to ward off flea beetles. and do not affect root yields. (If you are growing beets for their greens,COMPANIONS: Plant in alternate floating row covers can help keeprows with other crops, even those foliage pests away.) Larvae of beetthat grow tall. (Although beets pre- moths have been controlled onfer full sun, they also tolerate partial sugar beets with a watered-downshade.) Beets have attractive red- extract of the leaves of chestnutveined leaves that also make a nice trees (Castanea sativa). Scientistsaddition to ornamental plantings. believe the extract masks the chemi-ENEMIES: Some companion gar- cal aura that attracts the moth to laydeners believe that beets do poorly her eggs on the beet plants. 11
  12. 12. decaying broccoli plants instead of Broccoli turning them under. Brassica oleracea, GROWING GUIDELINES: Sow Botrytis group seed indoors, 1⁄2 inch (12 mm) deep CRUCIFERAE and 2 inches (5 cm) apart, about 2 months before the last spring frostALLIES: Many companion garden- date. Set out seedlings or nursery-ers believe that beans, celery, pota- grown transplants about a monthtoes, and onions improve broccoli’s before the last frost date. Give themgrowth and flavor. Aromatic herbs, a site with fertile, well-drained soilincluding chamomile, dill, pepper- and full sun. Space the young plantsmint, rosemary, and sage, are also 12 to 24 inches (30 to 60 cm)supposed to be beneficial to broc- apart. Sow a fall crop directly in thecoli and its relatives by discouraging garden in July through August.pests. Harvest the terminal bud while theCOMPANIONS: Broccoli needs a florets are tightly budded and green.lot of calcium, so plant it with low- If you leave the stem in the ground,calcium feeders like beets, nastur- you can harvest smaller side budstiums, marigolds, or sage. In rich, as they develop. Broccoli and otherfertile soil, interplant broccoli with cabbage-family plants are heavyother cabbage-family members such feeders, so top-dress with compostas cabbage, cauliflower, collards, or feed with fish emulsion every fewand kohlrabi, which share its heavy weeks.feeding habits. Underplant late-sea-son broccoli with hairy vetch, a win-ter-hardy green manure that will live Cabbageon to protect the soil after you har- Brassica oleracea,vest the broccoli. Capitata groupENEMIES: Many companion gar- CR U C I F E R A Edeners believe that broccoli andother cabbage-family plants are ALLIES: Many companion garden-negatively affected by tomatoes. ers say cabbage grows better whenSome would add pole beans to that planted with celery, onions, andlist, and others disagree about potatoes, although no research haswhether strawberries are good or yet been done to prove or disprovebad neighbors. In scientific studies, the idea. Aromatic plants, includingdecomposing residues of broccoli marigolds, nasturtiums, pennyroyal,were found to have a toxic effect on peppermint, sage, and thyme, are alettuce seedlings. It’s probably a favorite in garden lore for theirgood idea to remove and compost reputed insect-repellent powers; 12
  13. 13. except for marigolds, however, they ENEMIES: Companion gardenershave shown no significant effects in disagree about strawberries andscientific trials with cabbage. In cabbage as companions; some sayfact, nasturtiums have been shown the relationship is beneficial whileto actually attract cabbage flea bee- others say it affects cabbage nega-tles. Studies have shown that while tively.marigolds do reduce flea beetles, GROWING GUIDELINES: Cabbagethey also apparently cause an allelo- does best in cool weather. For thepathic reaction that inhibits the spring crop, sow seed indoors, 1⁄4growth of the cabbage. inch (6 mm) deep, 8 to 10 weeks Interplanting tomato rows with before the last spring frost date, orcabbage rows provided some protec- buy nursery-grown seedlings.tion from whiteflies and cabbage flea Transplant to fertile, well-drainedbeetles in one study; researchers soil in full sun as soon as the soiltheorized that the smell of the toma- can be worked, spacing plants 12 totoes hid the smell of the cabbage. 18 inches (30 to 45 cm) apart.Clover, lettuce, and weeds also help Side-dress monthly with compost orprotect from infestations by making rotted manure. Water evenly to pre-the cabbage hard to find. vent splitting. Harvest the headsCOMPANIONS: Try a border of when they are round and full.kale around your cabbage patch todecoy insects away fromthe cabbage heads. 13
  14. 14. heads stand for self-sown plants Calendula next spring. Calendula officinalis COMMENTS: In olden days, gold- C OMPOSITAE orange calendula petals were popu- lar in cooking, and their inclusionALLIES: Some companion garden- in certain concoctions supposedlyers believe a border or interplanting allowed the consumer to see fairies.of calendula protects plants against On a more practical note, you canasparagus beetles, tomato horn- use the crushed, dried petals as aworms, and other insects; this may substitute for the coloring effect ofbe due to a masking effect or a saffron.repellent created by the pungentscent of its foliage. The brightly col-ored flowers attract beneficialinsects, but the plant itself is oftenbeset by aphids, whiteflies,caterpillars, leafhoppers, andother pests; it may hold some valueas a trap crop. It is reputed to repeldogs when planted aroundshrubs and trees.COMPANIONS: The cheerfulflowers of calendula are a greataccent for herb gardens andflower borders. This compactannual fits in easily with veg-etable garden plantings.ENEMIES: None known.GROWING GUIDELINES:Calendula is easy to grow. Scatterseed in early spring in average,well-drained soil in full sun.Cut plants back to 3 inches(7.5 cm) after the first flushof bloom for color untilfrost, or sow again for fallblooms. Calendulas thrivein cool weather and keepblooming through the firstlight frosts. Let a few seed 14
  15. 15. tiny seeds to each inch (2.5 cm), in Carrot rows 1 foot (30 cm) apart, and Daucus carota cover lightly with fine soil or a var. sativa sprinkling of sand. Water gently UM B E L L I F E R A E with a fine mist to avoid washing out seeds. Carrots germinate in about 2ALLIES: Companion gardeners say to 3 weeks. When tops reach 1 to 2that interplanted radishes, peas, or inches (2.5 to 5 cm), thin plants tosage can improve the flavor of car- stand 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart. Thinrots. Some believe that onions, leeks, again to 4 inches (10 cm) apart inand rosemary, perhaps because of another 2 weeks, so that roots havetheir strong scent, repel root maggot plenty of room to grow. Make suc-flies. Interplanting with onions may cessive sowings every 3 weeksalso help repel carrot rust flies, a through the season until 3 monthsproblem in Northwest gardens. before the first fall frost for a con- tinuous crop of young, tender car-COMPANIONS: These light feeders rots. Water before harvesting togrow well in company with most soften the soil, and pull by hand toother garden vegetables. avoid damaging the roots.ENEMIES: Folklore suggests that COMMENTS: If nematodes are adill and anise cause poor growth in problem in your patch, causing littlecarrots. knots along roots and a stuntedGROWING GUIDELINES: Plant in crop, plant the bed with Frenchfull sun in deep, loose soil free of marigolds (Tagetes patula) therocks. Start sowing about 3 weeks year before sowing carrots. Till thebefore the average date of the last marigolds into the soil at the end ofspring frost. Sow about six of the the growing season. 15
  16. 16. reach 6 inches (15 cm) tall. Pinch Chives off spent flowers to prevent plants Allium schoenoprasum from reseeding. A MARYLLIDACEAE COMMENTS: Some companion gardeners recommend a spray ofALLIES: Companion gardeners rec- chives processed with water in aommend chives to improve growth blender to deter mildew on cucur-and flavor of carrots, grapes, roses, bits and gooseberries or black spotand tomatoes. Some suggest that a on roses. In the kitchen, snip freshring of chives around an apple tree leaves into pieces and freeze in zip-may inhibit the growth of apple scab pered plastic bags for a ready(possibly by affecting the spores source of seasoning in the winter.carried on dropped leaves); otherssay chives ward off Japanese beetlesor black spot in roses. No scientific Cornstudies have been conducted toconfirm these reports. Zea mays GRAMINEAECOMPANIONS: Chives are too pret-ty to keep in the vegetable garden ALLIES: The benefit of plantingalone. Use them for a neat and corn with beans has been upheld byattractive border planting, punctu- scientific research, which showedate the corners or centers of herb increased yields when corn wasbeds with their spiky form, or weave grown with a legume. Beans anda few clumps into the perennial corn are mutually beneficial: Beansborder. help keep fall armyworms in checkENEMIES: Some companion gar- on corn, while corn minimizesdeners believe that chives inhibit the leafhoppers on bean plants.growth of beans or peas. Alternate rows of corn and bushGROWING GUIDELINES: Seeds beans, two rows of corn to one ofrequire darkness to germinate. Sow beans. Or plant pole beans to climba generous amount of seeds in each corn stalks.peat pot indoors. Cover the tray of COMPANIONS: Sunflower borderspots with a piece of newspaper or were a tradition in American Indiancardboard, then be patient—they gardens. British research indicatesare slow to sprout. Transplant the that strips of sunflowers alternatedyoung clumps, pot and all, to a with corn will increase yields andsunny spot in average, well-drained decrease infestations of fall army-soil. Space clumps 18 inches (45 worms. Squash and pumpkins docm) apart. Harvest leaves by cutting well in the shade of the corn rows.them off at ground level when they 16
  17. 17. ENEMIES: The weed quack grass Plant four seeds at a time: “One(Agropyron repens) appears to for the blackbird, one for the crow,make nitrogen and potassium and that leaves just two to grow,” inunavailable to corn, even when the the words of an old prairie homily.area is heavily fertilized. Leached Sow seed 1 inch (2.5 cm) deep,toxins from wheat-straw mulch and space the groups 12 to 15 inch-reduced corn yields in farm es (30 to 37.5 cm) apart, in rowsresearch by 44 to 94 percent. or in hills of soil. Thin to two plantsGROWING GUIDELINES: Plan per group if needed. Side-dress withyour rotations so that heavy-feeding organic fertilizer when plants are 6corn follows a nitrogen-boosting inches (15 cm) tall and again whencrop of beans, alfalfa, or clover. they are knee-high. Start checkingSow seed after all danger of frost your corn for ripeness about threehas passed and soil is warm. Plant weeks after the silks appear. Press ain blocks to assure good pollina- fingernail against one of the ker-tion, interplanting with single rows nels; if the sap looks milky, it’s timeof beans if desired. to harvest. 17
  18. 18. GROWING GUIDELINES: Cosmos Cosmos are easy to grow from seed and easy Cosmos spp. to transplant, even when quite large. C OMPOSITAE After danger of frost has passed, direct-sow seed 1⁄4 inch (6 mm)ALLIES: None known. deep in average, well-drained soil in full sun. Thin seedlings to standCOMPANIONS: The flat daisy-like about 3 inches (7.5 cm) apart, andflowers of cosmos make a good pinch them when young and single-landing platform for honeybees and stemmed to encourage bushinessbeneficial insects seeking nectar or and branching. C. bipinnatus growspollen. Plant either Cosmos bipin- fast and lush, and it occasionallynatus, the old-fashioned, ferny- falls over from its own weight, snap-foliaged plant with pink, red, and ping a heavy branch of buds orwhite flowers, or C. sulphureus, the bloom. To salvage the plant, stickhot-colored, shorter type. The the broken end of the branch intoabundant foliage offers shelter to the ground a few inches deep, or laypredatory insects. it horizontally and mound 2 to 3ENEMIES: None known. inches (5 to 7.5 cm) of soil over the 18
  19. 19. stem. Keep the soil wet while new cucumbers will serve as a trap croproots form from the stem. It will for black cutworms.recover in less than a week. COMPANIONS: Interplant trellisedCOMMENTS: Both types of cosmos cucumbers with lettuce, celery, orare beautiful in bouquets. Try a few Chinese cabbage, all of which growstems of orange ‘Klondike’ blooms, well in the light shade of the vines.buds, and spiky seed heads in a Or grow cucumbers with cabbage,green vase for an arrangement of broccoli, or cauliflower; by the timealmost oriental simplicity. the cucumbers begin to sprawl, the Cosmos is also an excellent plant earlier crops should be ready forfor attracting birds to the garden. harvesting.Goldfinches are particularly fond of ENEMIES: Potatoes growing nearthe seeds and often hang upside cucumbers are reputed to be moredown, feasting on them from the susceptible to Phytophthora of branches bowed beneath Companion gardeners also warntheir weight. that aromatic herbs and cucumbers do not make good neighbors. Cucumber GROWING GUIDELINES: Grow cucumbers in hills or rows in fer- Cucumis sativus tile, well-drained soil in full sun. C UCURBITACEAE Sow seed 1⁄2 inch deep, or set out transplants 3 weeks after the lastALLIES: Cucumbers are reputed to spring frost date, when soil hasgrow better and yield more when warmed. Thin or space plants toplanted with beans, cabbage, corn, stand 12 inches (30 cm) apart.peas, or radishes. Some companion Water regularly to keep the soilgardeners believe that radishes lure evenly moist and help prevent bitteraway cucumber beetles or that pun- fruit. Apply an organic fertilizer, likegent-smelling marigolds repel them. fish emulsion, monthly.Radishes and onions are supposed Grow cucumbers on vertical trel-to keep away root maggots. lises to save precious gardeningResearch has shown that cucum- space and make harvesting easier.bers interplanted with broccoli or Keep cucumbers picked regularly,corn are less likely to be ravaged by before they yellow, to encourage thecucumber beetles or affected by the vines to keep producing.bacterial wilt the beetles carry.Some studies show that some types COMMENTS: If diseases are aof cucumber inhibit weed growth. problem in your area, select dis-Spiny amaranth (Amaranthus spin- ease-resistant cultivars such asosus) plants standing among ‘Marketmore 76’ or ‘Sweet Slice’. 19
  20. 20. tomatoes planted near dill will fail Dill to thrive. Anethum graveolens GROWING GUIDELINES: Dill can UMBELLIFERAE be temperamental about germinat- ing. It sprouts better in cool ratherALLIES: Dill is a useful plant in the than hot weather. Sow seed 1⁄4 inchcompanion garden, thanks to its (6 mm) deep and 4 inches (10 cm)big, airy umbels of many tiny flow- apart in spring in average, well-ers. Mud daubers and other large drained soil in full sun. Thinpredatory wasps, as well as many seedlings to stand 8 to 12 inchessmaller beneficials, visit the flowers (20 to 30 cm) apart. Sow every 2regularly and may return to your weeks for a continuous when they need caterpillars Once you have a thriving dill patch,to feed their young. Companion gar- chances are you’ll have it for years;deners say that dill improves the it self-sows liberally.growth and health of cabbage and COMMENTS: Don’t be alarmed byrelated crops. It’s also reputed to an infestation of green-black-and-repel aphids and spider mites, most yellow caterpillars on your dill. Letlikely because of its aroma. Dill may the creatures feed; they’ll turn intobe effective as a trap crop for thick, graceful black swallowtail tomato hornworms.Handpick the pests, or pull anddestroy infested crops. (Don’tdestroy caterpillars with little white Garliccocoons on their backs, though; Allium sativumthese have been parasitized by ben- A MARYLLIDACEAEeficial wasps.) ALLIES: Garlic is often recom-COMPANIONS: Sow dill with let- mended by companion gardeners astuce, onions, or cucumbers; the an insect-repelling plant, especiallyplants’ habits complement each for planting around roses and forother well. deterring Japanese beetles andENEMIES: Many growers are con-vinced that dill reduces the yieldof carrots. This belief may berooted in the fact that bothplants are susceptible tosome of the same dis-eases. Some companiongardeners believe that 20
  21. 21. aphids. Science has proven insecti- contains a number of individualcidal qualities of garlic sprays, but cloves; plant them one by one toits effectiveness as a companion mature into fat bulbs. Give garlic aplant in the garden is unconfirmed. site with loose, rich soil in full sun.COMPANIONS: Plant garlic between Plant cloves 2 inches (5 cm) deeptomatoes, eggplants, or cabbage and 4 inches (10 cm) apart. Mulchplants, or use as a border planting. to keep weeds down, and water during dry spells.ENEMIES: Garlic, like onions, is A 20-foot (6 m) row will yield 5 tosaid to have a negative effect on 10 pounds (2.5 to 5 kg) of garlic.peas, beans, and other legumes. Timing the harvest is a little tricky:GROWING GUIDELINES: Plant too early and bulbs will be small;garlic in fall, around Columbus Day, too late and the outer skin may tear,for a vigorous crop. Garlic needs a making the bulbs store poorly. Waitchilling period for best growth, and until leaves begin to turn brown,fall-planted bulbs will benefit from then check the status of one headthe winter cold. The bulbs will put before you harvest the whole crop.out a few roots before winter, but Hang bulbs by the leaves to dry, orgreen shoots usually won’t appear weave them into a braid.until spring. COMMENTS: Garlic oil is a proven Some supermarket bulbs are insecticide and may have some effecttreated with antisprouting chemi- on fungal or bacterial diseases.cals, but others will yield a perfectlyacceptable garlic crop. Each bulb 21
  22. 22. grow tall and crooked with age, an Geranium appealing look to some companion Pelargonium spp. gardeners but not to others. To GERANIACEAE reclaim an old plant, cut the stems back to short stubs; this will encour-ALLIES: The pungent foliage of age vigorous new growth. Pot up theflowering and scented geraniums is cuttings to get more plants.appealing to companion gardeners COMMENTS: The dense, leafybut not to garden pests. The showy growth provides welcome hidingflowering types of geranium are places for insect predators, espe-reputed to repel cabbageworms, cially spiders. Scented types addcorn earworms, and Japanese bee- appealing texture to ornamentaltles. The scented ones are thought beds. Try the rose-scented ‘Greyto deter red spider mites and cotton Lady Plymouth’, with lacy, gray-aphids. Some companion gardeners green leaves delicately edged inbelieve that white-flowered scented white and pink, or peppermintgeraniums are effective as a trap geranium, with large, wide velvetycrop for Japanese beetles; handpick leaves. Keep a pot of scented gerani-the beetles from the leaves. ums near walkways, where passers-COMPANIONS: Interplant flowering by will brush against the foliage andor scented geraniums with vegeta- release the fragrance.bles—especially among cabbageand its relatives—or use as a borderto the vegetable garden. Plant white- Lettuceor pink-flowering geraniums around Lactuca sativaroses for a pretty (and possibly pest- C OMPOSITAEcontrolling) combination.ENEMIES: None known. ALLIES: Many companion garden-GROWING GUIDELINES: ers maintain that lettuce grows bestGeraniums are easy to start from when planted near or with straw-cuttings; some types will also grow berries, carrots, cucumbers, cab-from seed. Grow plants in full sun in bage-family crops, and beets.lean to average, well-drained soil. Companion gardening tradition rec-Remove spent flowers on seed- ommends planting lettuce withgrown plants to encourage more radishes for the mutual benefit ofblooms. In frost-free climates, gera- both crops.niums are perennial; elsewhere, COMPANIONS: Plant lettuce belowtake cuttings in late summer or pot and around taller vegetables, suchup plants when frost threatens and as cabbage, broccoli, and beans, orbring indoors to overwinter. Plants edge a bed with it. Interplant rows 22
  23. 23. of leaf lettuce with rows of beans, well into the summer. In areas withpeas, and tomatoes. hot summers, look for heat-resis-ENEMIES: None known. tant cultivars such as ‘Mantilia’, ‘Grand Rapids’, and ‘Summer Bibb’.GROWING GUIDELINES: Lettuce Plant summer lettuce in the shadethrives in fertile, well-drained but of bean trellises or other tall plants.moisture-retentive soil with plenty Harvest lettuce in the morning,of organic matter. Sow seed in full when it is the most juicy and crispy.sun as early as you can work the Pick leaf lettuce as needed. Presssoil. Plant lettuce in rows, or broad- down on heading types to check forcast the tiny seeds over a small the springy firmness that indicatespatch. Sow as evenly as possible. the head is ready to harvest. WhenThin ruthlessly; you can always eat plants start to elongate and send upthe thinnings. Allow 12 to 16 inches a flowering stalk, the leaves become(30 to 40 cm) between plants for too bitter to enjoy.heading types; space plants 6 to 8inches (15 to 20 cm) apart for leafy COMMENTS: If you have the space,types. Water regularly to keep plants leave a row of lettuce to flower andgrowing well, and side-dress with set seed. Lettuce flowers attract amanure tea for rapid growth. Make multitude of insects, including ben-a second and third planting 2 weeks eficials; birds relish the seeds.apart to extend your lettuce harvest 23
  24. 24. ENEMIES: Marigolds appear to be Marigold allelopathic to beans and vegetables Tagetes spp. of the cabbage family. C OMPOSITAE GROWING GUIDELINES: Sow seed in lean to average soil with fullALLIES: Marigolds have acquired a sun after the last frost, or start withlarge body of companion gardening purchased plants. Space them 12 tolore surrounding their reputed 24 inches (30 to 60 cm) apart.insect-repelling qualities. Pinch off spent flowers to promoteCompanion gardeners suggest bushy growth and more flowers. Atplanting them with cabbage, pota- the end of the season, let a few seedtoes, tomatoes, and roses, insisting heads mature and save the seed forthat the pungently scented plants next year.control aphids, cabbage loopers, COMMENTS: Mulches of marigoldimported cabbageworms, Mexican leaves have been effective in sup-bean beetles, and nematodes. Only pressing nematodes; root mulchesa few of the claims are backed up are also repellent. These findingsby scientific research, and some- suggest that you might be better offtimes the results are contradictory. tossing pulled-up marigolds on theIn addition, marigolds appear to garden rather than on the composthave an allelopathic effect on some pile.neighbors. In one study, Frenchmarigolds (Tagetes patula)repelled Mexican bean beetles, butthe growth of the beans was stunted, Mintapparently by the presence of the Mentha spp.marigolds. Nematode studies are LABIATAEmore definitive, showing a decreasein population in at least five species ALLIES: These strong-smellingof nematodes. Spectacular nema- plants are favorites with companiontode control resulted when gardeners who believe that themarigolds were interplanted with sharp fragrance repels insect pests.tomatoes. Some believe that mint also improves the vigor and flavor ofCOMPANIONS: Due to the possible cabbage and tomatoes.allelopathic effects, it’s probablybest to plant marigolds and vegeta- COMPANIONS: Mint is notoriouslybles in separate beds. Grow the invasive, so don’t allow it free reinmarigolds as a cover crop and turn in your garden. If you want to growthem into the soil at the end of the mint around your crops, plant it inseason. pots and set the pots near the plants 24
  25. 25. you want to protect. Place a saucer and cover it in a few places withbeneath the pot to prevent the roots about 1⁄2 inch (12 mm) of patted-from creeping into the garden soil. down soil. Keep the soil moist untilSome low-growing mints, such as vigorous new growth appears, usu-pennyroyal, are not as rampant as ally in just a few weeks. Seed-growntaller apple mint, spearmint, and mint may or may not have a strongother species. scent; rub a leaf and sniff beforeENEMIES: None known. buying potted garden-center mints to make sure you are getting whatGROWING GUIDELINES: Grow you want. Even a young seedlingmint in average soil in full sun or should have a strong, distinctivepartial shade. Extra moisture will smell of peppermint, spearmint, orencourage more vigorous whatever it is being sold as.growth. Buy plants or beg acutting from a friend or neigh- COMMENTS: Spearmint and pep-bor to start your patch; permint, some say, will repel antsmint cuttings are on plants or in the kitchen. Lay aextremely easy to root. fresh sprig in drawers andLay the clipping horizon- on shelves. Mints may alsotally on the surface of aver- help protect woolensage to lean soil in full sun, from moth damage. 25
  26. 26. encourage blooms during hot Nasturtium weather. Tropaeolum majus COMMENTS: The colorful, spurred T ROPAEOLACEAE flowers attract hummingbirds. They are also a charming and flavorfulALLIES: Companion gardeners rec- garnish for salads.ommend nasturtiums as a trap cropfor aphids; pull up and destroy theinfested plants. Nasturtiums are also Onionsaid to deter pests—includingwhiteflies—from beans, cabbage Allium cepaand its relatives, and cucumbers. A MARYLLIDACEAESome companion gardeners plant ALLIES: Some gardeners believenasturtiums where they will later that onions thrive with cabbage,plant their squash, hoping to keep beets, strawberries, and lettuce.squash bugs away. Scientific trials Summer savory planted nearby isshow conflicting evidence. In some said to improve their flavor. Onionstests, pests are reduced; in others, interplanted with potatoes arethe nasturtiums had no effect, or believed to deter Colorado potatoworse, appeared to draw pests to beetles. Some companion gardenersthe garden. It’s worth conducting plant onions with carrots to fend offyour own field trials. carrot rust flies that cause rootCOMPANIONS: Nasturtiums are maggots, and many plant onionsavailable in compact or trailing around rose bushes to deter pests.forms. They flower well in poor soil COMPANIONS: Shallow-rooted,and tend to produce more leaves narrow-growing onions are easy tothan flowers if you plant them in squeeze in anywhere in the garden.the rich soil of the vegetable garden. Interplant them with annual orTrailing types are pretty in a window perennial vegetables or use asbox with marigolds and other borders to edge a bed.annuals. ENEMIES: Peas, beans, and sageENEMIES: None known. are the traditional bad neighborsGROWING GUIDELINES: Nastur- for onions.tiums grow and flower best in aver- GROWING GUIDELINES: Useage to poor soil. Plant seed 1⁄2 inch bulbs, or “sets”, for interplanting—(12 mm) deep in full sun in well- they are easy to pop into thedrained soil after danger of frost ground, singly or in handfuls, wher-has passed. Thin or space plants to ever you want them. Many compan-stand 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm) ion gardeners plant sets one by one,apart. Mulching and watering will 26
  27. 27. pointed-side up, but if you are sow-ing a lot of onions for eating greenand don’t mind crooked stems, youcan simply pour the sets from thebag into the row. Cover them with 1inch (2.5 cm) of soil and firm thesurface; the new shoots will rightthemselves. When onion tops yellow, knockthem over. Dig the bulbs when thetops turn brown. Dry them in thesun in rows, laying the first row inone direction and the next row inthe opposite direction. Lay the topsof the second row over the bulbs ofthe first row to prevent sunscald.When skins are completely dry,wipe off the soil, remove the tops,and store the bulbs in a cool, airyspot. You can also keep the driedtops on and braid the onions forstorage.COMMENTS: Select a cultivar bestsuited to your gardening climateand season length; check seed cata-logs for recommendations. 27
  28. 28. winter’s worth of this versatile herb Parsley by chopping and freezing in zip- Petroselinum crispum pered plastic bags. In order to UM B E L L I F E R A E attract beneficial insects to the gar- den, let a few plants flower and goALLIES: Many companion garden- to seed. Tiny parasitic wasps areers are convinced that parsley especially fond of the very smallrepels asparagus beetles. Others flowers, which are clustered togeth-believe that parsley reduces carrot er in umbels.rust flies and beetles on roses.Interplanted parsley may alsohelp invigorate tomatoes.COMPANIONS: Rosettes of darkgreen parsley add a neat, old-fash-ioned touch to all kinds of gardenbeds. Plant parsley around the baseof roses.ENEMIES: None known.GROWING GUIDELINES: Parsleyis notoriously slow to germinate—according to an old homily, theseeds go to the devil and back seventimes before breaking through thesoil. Buy young plants, or sow seedshallowly in spring. Grow parsley infull sun or light shade in well-drained, average soil. After the newplant is established, harvest sprigsas needed. Parsley blooms in itssecond year and sometimes self-sows if you let a few seed headsstand.COMMENTS: Dried parsleyquickly loses flavor. Save a 28
  29. 29. in full sun. Sow seed 1 inch (2.5 Pea cm) deep in early spring, up to 2 Pisum sativum months before the last expected LE G U M I N O S A E frost. Some gardeners start peas indoors in individual peat pots. ThinALLIES: Companion gardeners or space plants to stand 3 inchesbelieve this nitrogen-fixing legume (7.5 cm) apart. Mulch to controlstimulates the growth of corn, weeds and keep the soil evenlybeans, potatoes, tomatoes, radishes, moist. Give plants a trellis to climb,carrots, turnips, and cucumbers. or let short-vining cultivars trail onScientific research indicates that the ground. After you harvest anexudates from the roots of cabbage- early crop of peas, remove the vinesfamily crops may help prevent pea and plant squash, beans, or otherroot rot. crops to utilize the space.COMPANIONS: Grow tomatoes, COMMENTS: A weedy garden mayeggplants, lettuce, or spinach in the improve your pea crop. Researchersshade of trellised pea plants. The found that white mustard shelters apea vines also protect these tender parasite of pea aphids, and weedscrops from wind damage. Alternate also provide an egg-laying site forrows of peas with shade-tolerant hover flies, which parasitize aphidsChinese cabbage. and other soft-bodied pests.ENEMIES: Onions and garlic are Pea greens are an oriental delica-reputed to have a negative effect on cy. Plant an extra row of peas andthe growth of peas. leave them unthinned to supply your kitchen with these tasty, delicateGROWING GUIDELINES: Peas greens.thrive in average, well-drained soil 29
  30. 30. COMPANIONS: Plant peppers with Pepper okra for protection from sun and Capsicum frutescens, wind damage. They often drop their Grossum group blossoms in temperatures over 90°F SOLANACEAE (32°C); keep them cool by growing with taller plants that will provideALLIES: Companion gardeners rec- some shade during the hottest partommend planting peppers with car- of the day.rots and onions for vigorous growth ENEMIES: Some companion gar-and good flavor. Basil, lovage, mar- deners keep kohlrabi and fenneljoram, and oregano are also said to away from pepper plants. It’s best tostimulate their growth. Gardeners in keep peppers away from beans;India use marigolds to protect pep- both are susceptible to anthracnose,pers and other crops from nema- a disease that causes dark, softtodes. Scientific studies indicate spots on fruits.marigolds are effective in reducing GROWING GUIDELINES: Buyaphids on peppers; other strong- nursery-grown seedlings, or startsmelling plants, such as coriander, seed indoors in peat pots 8 weekscatnip, onions, nasturtiums, and before the last spring frost. Seedstansy, may have the same effect. are slow to germinate, often waiting 3 to 4 weeks to make an appear- ance. Thin to one plant per pot when they reach 3 inches (7.5 cm) high, snipping off the extras with a 30
  31. 31. pair of small scissors. Transplant to beetles away from the crop to layfertile, well-drained soil in full sun, their eggs on the weeds, especially2 to 3 weeks after the last spring when the weeds are growing upwind.frost. Space plants 11⁄2 to 2 feet (45 COMPANIONS: Plant lettuce,to 60 cm) apart; hot peppers toler- radishes, and green onions withate closer spacing than sweet pep- potatoes; they mature long beforepers. Mulch to maintain even mois- the tuber crop is ready to dig.ture, and water during dry spells toprevent bitterness. A dose of fish ENEMIES: Companion gardenersemulsion when plants are in flower say potatoes may be more suscepti-can help increase yields. Sweet pep- ble to blight if grown near raspber-pers turn from green to red, yellow, ries, pumpkins, tomatoes, squash,or purple as they mature, getting cucumbers, and sunflowers.sweeter with the color change; pick GROWING GUIDELINES: Potatoesat any stage. Hot peppers also thrive in loose, fertile, well-drainedchange color when it’s time to pick. soil in full sun. Cut whole potatoes into pieces, each with two or three “eyes” (growing points), and let Potato them dry for a day before planting. Solanum tuberosum Plant the pieces as soon as you can work the soil, spacing them 6 to 12 SO L A N A C E A E inches (15 to 30 cm) apart and 4ALLIES: Many companion gardeners inches (10 cm) deep. As the vinesrecommend planting potatoes with grow, pull soil over the developingbeans, cabbage, corn, or horse- tubers to prevent them from turningradish for improved growth and fla- green, or cover them with compost,vor. They also often recommend leaves, or straw. Some companionmarigolds to ward off pests and gardeners grow potatoes in cages;sometimes plant eggplants as a trap fill the cage with straw as the plantscrop for Colorado potato beetles. grow, leaving only 3 to 4 inchesTests at the Rodale Research Center (7.5 to 10 cm) of leaves Pennsylvania with plantings of cat- Blossoms are a sign that newnip, coriander, nasturtium, and tansy potatoes are ready to harvest.resulted in a slightly reduced infesta- Uncover a layer and pluck off tuberstion of beetle larvae. According to that are big enough to eat; cover theone study, tomato-family weeds such rest. When the tops of the plantsas jimson weed and nightshade begin to die back, it’s harvest time.attract female Colorado potato 31
  32. 32. rose in an old rose’s “grave”: Rose Disease pathogens or allelopathic Rosa spp. substances that hinder the growth of RO S A C E A E a new plant of the same genus may be lurking in the soil.ALLIES: Alliums—including garlic, GROWING GUIDELINES: Rosesonions, leeks, and chives—are need at least 6 hours of sun eachreputed to protect roses against day, and they must have excellentblack spot, mildew, and aphids. drainage. They do best in fertile soilParsley is said to repel rose beetles. enriched with humus or otherSome companion gardeners suggest organic material. In most climates,that strongly aromatic herbs may fall is the best time for plantingalso repel aphids. bareroot roses. (You can plantCOMPANIONS: You can grow bareroot roses in winter in veryroses in a bed of their own, or mild climates; spring is a betterweave them into perennial beds and time in areas with very cold win-borders. Use shrub types, such as ters.) Plant container-grown rosesdisease-resistant rugosa roses anytime during the growing season.(Rosa rugosa), for hedges or barri- Dig the hole deep enough so theers or to provide food and shelter graft union—the scar on the stemfor wildlife. Low-growing plants, that indicates where the rose hassuch as creeping thyme or sweet been budded onto its rootstock—isalyssum, make attractive ground- at or just below the soil surface.covers beneath rose bushes; these Trim canes back to 8 inches (20small-flowered plants may also cm), and mulch plants with com-attract beneficials to protect roses. post. After the first hard frost, pruneENEMIES: As with all members of roses back halfway, and mulchthe rose family, never plant a new deeply with loose leaves or coarse 32
  33. 33. compost, mounding it around the herb gardens. The small flowers willcanes. Prune off and destroy any attract many bees.diseased leaves or branches. ENEMIES: None known. GROWING GUIDELINES: Grow Rosemary from cuttings or buy a started plant. This tender perennial often won’t Rosmarinus officinalis survive the winter in areas colder L ABIATAE than Zone 7. Use as a pot plant in Northern gardens, or plant it outALLIES: Rosemary is popular as a during summer and pot up cuttingscompanion for cabbage, broccoli,and related crops, as well as carrots for overwintering. In containers orand onions. Its fragrance is said to in the garden, rosemary thrives onrepel insects; companion gardeners heat. Plant in full sun in average,use it for cabbage flies, root maggot well-drained soil. Never allow con-flies, and other flying pests. tainer plantings to dry out; rose- mary does not recover from severeCOMPANIONS: Gardeners in warm wilting.climates—especially the PacificSouthwest, where rosemary reaches COMMENTS: Rosemary has alsoshrub proportions—can enjoy this won favor as a defense againstattractive, aromatic plant as a hedge clothes moths. Banckes wrote in hisor border. Prostrate types make Herbal: “Take the flowers and putbeautiful groundcovers for stony them in thy chest among thy clothesbanks or streetside rock gardens. or among thy Bookes and MothesRosemary is a natural addition to shall not destroy them.” 33
  34. 34. drained soil. Sow seed shallowly Sage indoors in late winter or outdoors in Salvia officinalis late spring. Space plants about 24 L ABIATAE inches (60 cm) apart. Trim back drastically in early spring to encour-ALLIES: Many companion garden- age vigorous, bushy new growth.ers believe that sage improves the Plants may decline after severalgrowth and flavor of cabbage, car- years; take cuttings or divide inrots, strawberries, and tomatoes. spring or fall to have a steady supply.They also believe that it deters cab- COMMENTS: A branch of stronglybage-family pests such as imported aromatic sage is a fragrant additioncabbageworms and root maggot to a sweater drawer or blanketflies. In one study, cabbageworms chest, and it may help keep clotheswere not reduced by companion moths away. Herbalists recommendplantings with sage; another study of the herb for increasing longevity—sage spray revealed some effective- and for keeping your mind sharp.ness in controlling the pest. Sage isalso thought to grow well with mar-joram. SquashCOMPANIONS: The plentiful, usu- Cucurbita blue, flowers of this perennial C UCURBITACEAEherb are attractive to bees and otherinsects, including beneficials. Use ALLIES: Squash, one of thesage as a border planting, or dot the American Indians’ “three sisters,” isplants among annual or perennial traditionally grown with corn andvegetables; they grow to an appre- beans. Some companion gardenersciable size in just one season. Sage recommend a nearby planting ofis an attractive plant for a steep, dry radishes, nasturtiums, or mint andbank. Purple-leaved or tricolored other aromatic herbs tocultivars work well in combination repel insect pestswith the usual gray-leaved sage.ENEMIES: Sage is thought to stuntthe growth of cucumbers. Manycompanion gardeners believe thatsage and rue make poor neighbors.Long ago, people believed that sageand onions had a negative effect oneach other in the garden.GROWING GUIDELINES: Sageneeds full sun and average, well- 34
  35. 35. such as squash bugs. Studies at the cm) apart. You can also grow win-Rodale test gardens have shown a ter squash up sturdy trellises to savepossible reduction of squash bugs on space; suspend ripening fruits in azucchini paired with catnip or tansy. panty-hose sling. Water with fishCOMPANIONS: Summer squash, emulsion every 3 to 4 weeks. Mulchsuch as crookneck and zucchini, with straw to keep the soil moist. Gently guide straying vines backgrow on bushy, nonvining plants. where they belong.Winter squash, such as acorn, but- Summer squash fruits grow fast.ternut, and Hubbard, produce very Pick them every few days, while theylong vines. Plant both kinds with are still young and tender, to keepcorn. Tall sunflowers are another the plant producing. Harvest wintersuitable companion crop. squash when the shell is too hard toENEMIES: Gardening lore suggests dent with a fingernail. Let winterthat squash plants may inhibit the squash cure in the sun for 10 to 14growth of potatoes. days; cover if frost is expected.GROWING GUIDELINES: Squash COMMENTS: Squash are suscepti-thrives in fertile, well-drained soil in ble to various pests and ailmentsfull sun. After the last frost, plant that can cause serious damage.seed 1 inch (2.5 cm) deep when Watch for signs of trouble, like wilt-the soil has warmed. Space summer ing vines, which can indicate squashsquash 1 to 2 feet (30 to 60 cm) borers or bacterial wilt; destroyapart; winter, 2 to 4 feet (60 to 120 infected plants. 35
  36. 36. can transplant the thinnings. Plants Sunflower are drought-tolerant, but mulching Helianthus annuus and regular watering will encourage C OMPOSITAE larger seed heads. COMMENTS: Before you crossALLIES: None known. sunflowers off your companion list,COMPANIONS: Sunflowers are do a little experimenting yourself.commonly planted with corn, Most research has been done on thebeans, and squash. Plant a strip of sunflower’s effect on weeds, such astall-growing sunflowers between jimson weed, velvetleaf, Johnsonplantings of popcorn and sweet grass, and others, not on home gar-corn to block wind-borne pollen den crops.that could cross-pollinate the crops. If you enjoy growing sunflowers for their blooms, plant a variety ofENEMIES: Research is turning up colors, and be sure to grow extrasstrong evidence of allelopathy in for cutting. ‘Lemon Gem’ has blacksunflowers, in both wild types and seeds and sulfur yellow petals; othercultivars. Wild sunflowers, a com- cultivars, including ‘Autumn Beauty’,mon crop weed, have been shown ‘Music Box Mix’, and ‘Velvet Queen’,to inhibit or prevent the growth of offer russets, burgundy, or yellowmany species of plants. Field and blotched with brown.laboratory studies show that culti-vated types can be equally detrimen-tal to some of their neighbors. Just Thymehow significant the effect is in the Thymus spp.home garden has yet to be deter-mined. Most home companion gar- L ABIATAEdeners notice no detrimental effects ALLIES: Companion gardeners rec-from the plants; some claim that the ommend planting thyme with justsunflower hulls dropped from bird about everything in the garden; thisfeeders inhibit plant growth around herb is said to improve flavor andthe base of the feeder. repel pests. Eggplants, cabbage,GROWING GUIDELINES: potatoes, and tomatoes are oftenSunflowers couldn’t be simpler to mentioned as companions.grow. They thrive in average soil in Scientific evidence is sparse; in onefull sun. In spring, after danger of study, the presence of thymefrost has passed, push a seed 1⁄2 inch appeared to increase the population(12 mm) deep into the soil every 6 of cabbageworms on neighboringinches (15 cm); thin to 18 to 24 plants. Another study suggests thatinches (45 to 60 cm) apart. You thyme sprays may be more effective 36
  37. 37. at masking plants from pests that GROWING GUIDELINES: Thymeseek hosts by smell. thrives in poor to average, well-COMPANIONS: Grow only non- drained soil in full sun. Commonspreading types of this herb in the thyme is easy to grow from seedvegetable garden. Common thyme sown shallowly indoors in late win-(Thymus vulgaris), an upright, ter. Sprinkle the seed generouslyshrubby type, is a good choice for into pots. Buy other species andinterplanting with vegetables. cultivars as plants from garden cen-Spreading, mat-forming thymes, ters. Cuttings are extremely easy tosuch as the popular woolly thyme root. Layering is also a good way to(T. pseudolanuginosus), the rapid- create more plants; simply nudge aly creeping nutmeg thyme (T. bit of soil over a low-growingherbabarona ‘Nutmeg’), and many branch and anchor with a stone.others, are best kept in separate Sever the rooted plant from thebeds or in the herb and flower gar- mother when it begins producingden. Delicately pretty in leaf and vigorous growth and resists a slightflower, a carpet of thyme makes a tug. Divide older plants in spring.beautiful underplanting for roses. COMMENTS: A sampler garden ofENEMIES: None known. thymes, including yellow-edged lemon thyme (T. x citriodorus), diminutive woolly thyme, white- edged silver thyme (T. x citriodorus ‘Argentea’), and other favorites, is easy and appealing. 37
  38. 38. said to deter hornworms. In one Tomato study, intercropping tomatoes with Lycopersicon plants of the cabbage family resulted esculentum in reduced populations of diamond- SO L A N A C E A E back moths and flea beetles in the cabbage-family crops.ALLIES: Companion gardeners Gardeners often interplantplant tomatoes with asparagus, marigolds with tomatoes to controlbroccoli, cauliflower, cabbages, car- nematodes, but studies indicate thatrots, and onions, hoping for the best way to control nema-improved growth and flavor. todes—if they are indeed a prob-Aromatic basil, parsley, and sage are lem in your garden—is to plant aalso supposed to make tomatoes whole bed of marigolds, then turn iteven more of a treat; under and follow it with tomatoes.dill and borage are COMPANIONS: Surround tomatoes with aromatic herbs, or plant them into an already-growing bed of spinach, lettuce, or other fast- growing crops. ENEMIES: Black walnut roots cause tomato plants to wilt and die. Companion gardeners believe that tomatoes fail to thrive when planted near fennel or potatoes. Avoid planting tomatoes where relat- ed plants, such as eggplants and potatoes, grew the previ- ous 2 years. GROWING GUIDELINES: Tomatoes thrive in full sun in deep, fertile, well-drained soil. Start plants from seed sown 1⁄4 inch (6 mm) deep indoors, 5 to 6 weeks before the average date of the last expected frost in your area. Or, buy nursery- grown plants. After all danger of frost has passed, set plants out in the garden; make the hole deep enough so soil 38
  39. 39. covers the stem up to the bottom add a dash of color. Be sure to growleaves. Space them 12 to 24 inches a few rows just for cutting; cut flow-(30 to 60 cm) apart if you plan to ers stay fresh for over a week withcage or trellis the plants; allow 36 to no special treatment.48 inches (90 to 120 cm) between ENEMIES: None known.plants if you plan to let them sprawl. GROWING GUIDELINES: ZinniasMulch with compost in midsummer, thrive in full sun in average, well-and water once with fish emulsion drained soil and are at their best inwhen plants are in bloom. hot summer weather. They are among the quickest and easiest Zinnia annuals you can grow from seed. Direct-sow 1⁄4 inch (6 mm) deep in Zinnia elegans spring after danger of frost has C OMPOSITAE passed. Deadhead regularly to keep the flowers coming. PowderyALLIES: Zinnias attract insects of mildew often causes dusty whiteall kinds to the garden with their spots on the foliage. Antidessicantbright flowers and bushy foliage. sprays may help protect leaves. Or,Nectar-seeking wasps and hover look for resistant species and culti-flies are two of the beneficials that vars, such as Zinnia angustifolia.come to the feast. Zinnias also COMMENTS: Let some plants go toattract butterflies of many species, seed to attract goldfinches andfrom small coppery metalmarks to other seed eaters to the garden.big, showy swallowtails. Easy-to-grow zinnias are a greatCOMPANIONS: Zinnias are out- way to introduce children to thestanding plants for beds, borders, pleasures of growing flowers. Youngand containers. These rewarding, gardeners are particularly enchant-gaily colored annuals bloom prolifi- ed by peppermint-striped cultivarscally from summer until frost. and extra-small miniatures, such asInterplant in the vegetable garden to ‘Thumbelina’. 39