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The idea of companion planting has been around for a long time. The concept is to place two (or more) types of plants near each other so both benefit. Roses and Garlic come immediately to mind. The garlic deters various bugs and provides nutrients to the soil that roses love, and roses also benefit garlic’s soil needs.

At first, companion planting came about by observation. For example, the Native Americans cultivated corns, beans, and squash together finding the three thrive in this configuration. As such, these plants became known as the “three sisters.”
Chemistry experiments later confirmed that, indeed, the positive insects these three bring and the way they interact in soil is a win-win-win situation!

Companion Planting
Companion Planting
Companion became very popular around the 1970s when organic gardening was also moving forward strongly. It was the perfect combination of living in harmony with the land while still having a functional garden space. To illustrate: caterpillars love cabbage, but they like Nasturtium better – so planting these two near each other saves the edible crop, and still provides a bed of beautiful flowers.

First time companion planters may not know where to begin. There are a lot of charts to which you can refer, but we’ll explore a few things here briefly. Anything in the cabbage family thrives with spinach, onions and herbs. Carrots benefit from peas, onions, and lettuce. Celery likes onions, beans and tomatoes. Now, are you noticing a pattern here? A lot of items that we use together in cooking also perform well in companion planting! Meanwhile, on the flip side cabbage doesn’t like berries, and carrots don’t grow well with dill.

Companion Planting
Companion Planting
In the herb family, plant basil with chamomile and oregano, and rosemary with sage. What about flowers? Geraniums thrive with grapes or tomatoes, marigolds benefit from cucumbers and cabbage, and sunflowers like corn and tomatoes as companions.

So why does it work? Well, some plants attract non-helpful insects away from neighboring plants without being harmed by that pest. Other plants adjust the amount of nitrogen in the soil (peas and beans in particular) to the benefit of other greenery. A third function is having tall or dense plants near ones that are more delicate to protect them from wind or too much direct sunlight. And the really clever companion gardener might put roses or other thorn/prickly product near to items that bunnies, raccoons, squirrels, and deer like to harvest unwelcome! It may not fix the whole problem but definitely acts as a deterrent.On top of specific benefits, any time you mix different plants together it helps keep the soil from leeching out any specific nutrient, similarly to rotating crops.

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