There are natural methods to providing both protection and nutrients to vegetables in the garden. Companion planting is a method in which certain vegetables and herbs are planted near each other for mutual benefit. When planting the garden, understanding which vegetables are companions and enemies to each other helps create a more successful garden.
Pick vegetables that grow in opposite directions. Root vegetables can grow under vines such as bean, peas and tomatoes.
Plant shade-tolerant vegetables under bush vegetables, large or tall vegetable plants. Corn and sunflower can have lettuce growing around them. Broccoli can have a circle of radish around it.
Grow vines such as beans and tomatoes on trellises, then plant celery, asparagus, cucumber or eggplant underneath. Potatoes can be planted around beans but not tomatoes because the same diseases attack both vegetables. Garlic and shallots will stunt bean vines.
Pick flowers and herbs that help certain vegetables by controlling pests. Flowers such as marigolds keep beetles away. Herbs such as dill, oregano and chives keep various insects away.
Plant rosemary, thyme and garlic around the edge of the garden to deter animals such as deer and rabbit. These plants mask the smell of many vegetables in the garden as well as taste bad.
Plant herbs and flowers within the garden to attract beneficial insects and pollinators. Ladybugs protect gardens by eating many pests, including aphids. Wasps, bees and hummingbirds act as pollinators.