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Connecticut Garden Journal: The benefits of planting companion plants

Xochitl Ahtziri Ferry Street Farm New Haven BIPOC
Mark Mirko
Connecticut Public
Gently tapping the soil, Xóchitl Garcia nestles a tomato plant into a new bed at the Fair Haven community garden.

With garden season coming soon, I'm in full swing, planning mode. I'm sketching out what veggies are going where in my garden. It's certainly a good idea to rotate plant families not growing the same plants in the same location every year. But also it's good to think about companion plants. These would be plants that are mutually beneficial by sharing nutrients or warding off pests. Here's some good examples.

You can reduce the amount of fertilizer you need in your garden by growing veggies that help each other grow. Some good examples are planting peas in the middle of a raised bed on a trellis and planting lettuce on each side of the trellis. Another idea is to plant a row of kale in between two rows of bush beans. Peas and beans are legumes that fix nitrogen in the air into a form plants can use. They will share that nitrogen fertilizer with nearby plants so your kale and lettuce will benefit.

For pests, plant herbs and flowers that will confuse insects so they don't lay as many eggs on your plants. A good example is planting nasturtiums next to summer squash or zucchini. The nasturtium flowers emit a scent that confuses squash bugs and they can't find your squash plants. Make sure the nasturtiums are well established before planting the squash. Another example is planting Genovese basil plants around tomatoes. The basil emits a scent that confuses tomato hornworms and they don't lay as many eggs on your tomatoes.

Charlie Nardozzi is a regional Emmy® Award winning garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.
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