Thursday, February 18, 2010


Just like a bear coming out from a long winter hibernation, stretching an yawning, so to am I. Like the bear and me, my garden has been hibernating and this blog post is focused on getting a jump start on summer garden preparations. Let's start with two important topics, what to plant and where.

As a professional landscape designer I like to experiment with plant combination, yes you can do this with vegetables and herbs as well. However, did you know that there is a more scientific approach to planting order? Planting plants which like each other actually helps neighboring plants thrive. This technique is called companion planting. Just like people, plants benefit from good, healthy companionship. It is believed that plants will yield more, grow better, taste better and in my opinion as a designer look better.

In most cases it is best for the gardener to experiment and find out what works best for their garden. To get you started, here are some general rules to get your friendly garden started,

Just like in any healthy relationship avoid the negative.
Some plants which do not pair well together are:
  • Corn and Tomato,
  • Tomato, peppers, potato and eggplant
  • Cucumbers, Squash and Melons

In a healthy relationship it is best to accentuate the positive. Here is a great chart by Our Garden Gang of plants that do well together. This chart has a very organized way of listing beneficial and non-beneficial plant relationships. Garden Ablaze has planting charts broken down into more specific ways your garden can benefit from companion planting such as companion planting for larger yields, companion planting for pest control and companion planting for attracting beneficial insects.

Another benefit to companion planting is mixing it up to keep it interesting. The further a pest has to travel from feast to feast, the greater chance the insect will loose interest or become a feast to another predator. Mixing up the plants also gives you the opportunity to try some more aesthetically pleasing plant combination. One can experiment with plant color, texture, size and shape. For example, if we look at our (above) charts we can experiment.

What about planting tomato, basil, and marigolds together. What a beautiful combination, the red of the tomato against the yellow marigold with a splash of delicate white flowers or purple leaves from the basil.

Another great combination would be eggplant, rocky top lettuce mix and carrots. The purple eggplants are a beautiful and dramatic backdrop to the chartreuse leaves of carrots and the purple and chartreuse variegation from the lettuce mix ties both together nicely. Here we are mixing color, shape, texture, and size.

So it appears that practicing the companion planting method has many benefits, not only will you be promised a big harvest, less pests and healthy plants, you will also be rewarded with an aesthetically beautiful garden.....Who wouldn't want a companion like that?