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So you’re ready to start your garden for the season.. but where do you start? Can you plant tomatoes next to corn? Will beans take over your spinach? For most vegetables, there are both beneficial and negative plants to place next to each other.

We asked our Assistant Farm Manager, Melina, for advice on where to start.

Assistant Farm Manager Melina

1. Why is companion planting important?
“Companion planting can be used to enrich the soil, suppress weeds, discourage pests, attract beneficial insects, or provide structural support for vining plants.”

Plant bedsOverall, companion planting can help you maximize the efficiency of your garden depending on how plants grow or the pests they repel. Giving your plants the space and support they need to succeed will result in a better yield.

2. How do you get started?
“Plant dill, parsley, carrots, or fennel near brassica crops to attract beneficial pest-eating insects.”

Fennel

This will keep your cabbages and kale from becoming someone else’s meal before you get to enjoy them!

3. What plants grow best next to each other?
“There are many possible combinations, but a classic favorite for our home gardens has been planting a “three sisters” garden. Plant corn, beans, and squash together, so that the beans can use the corn for support, and the squash will out compete weeds at the ground level.”

Heritage Prairie Farm
Other beneficial combinations include:
* tomatoes by basil or asparagus
* summer squash by radishes or dill
* peppers by onions or spinach
* cucumbers by beans or corn
* carrots by tomatoes
* onions by carrots or beets
* corn by pumpkins or melons
* lettuce by mint, chives or garlic

4. What plants really do NOT grow well next to each other?
“Just make sure nothing you plant will out compete each other. Give every plant enough space to grow and don’t plant anything that might shade the companion too much.”

baby lettuce headsSome combinations that are not ideal include:
* onions near beans or peas
* tomatoes near cabbage, dill, corn or potatoes
* lettuce near parsley
* summer squash near potatoes
* peppers near beans
* corn near tomatoes
* carrots near parsnips or dill
* cucumbers near sage or aromatic herbs

5. Other advice?
“Have fun with it!”

Farmer Brett at Heritage Prairie Farm

 

If you’re looking for organic, locally-grown transplants for your spring garden, visit Heritage Prairie Farm for our Summer Plant Sales! May 4 & 11 from 9 am to 2 pm at 2N308 Brundige Rd., Elburn, IL.
Be sure to download our Summer Transplant Guide for a list of available plants, and check out this page for more information.

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