People aren’t the only ones who get by with a little help from their friends. Friendly plants, also known as companion plants, also do better when planted together. Companion plants help each other fight pests, grow stronger and produce more. Monocultures—large groupings of a single plant—are more susceptible to disease and insect depredation, because a single infection or insect can quickly move through the group without interruption. Planting vegetables of different types together can help prevent the spread and proliferation of disease and result in a healthier harvest.
Cucumbers and Dill
Cucumbers and dill are meant to be together from garden row to pickle jar. Aromatic dill repels insect pests such as cucumber beetles that can decimate a cucumber crop. Mint and basil are other aromatic herbs that help keep insects from plants and are good companion plants for tomatoes and cabbage.
Squash and Corn
Native Americans planted corn and squash and sometimes beans together. The corn provides a natural trellis for climbing beans and shade during the hot summer months, while squash crowds out weeds that might steal nutrients from the corn.
Broccoli and Tomatoes
Tomatoes are members of the nightshade family. Plants in this family produce Solanine, an alkaloid that deters pests such as cabbage loopers. So tomatoes are good companions for members of the cabbage family such as cabbage, brussels sprouts and broccoli.
Nasturtiums and Potatoes
The brightly colored blossoms of nasturtiums attract both good and bad insects, making the plant a good companion in the garden. Bad insects such as potato bugs are drawn away from the potatoes, while beneficial ladybugs and pollinators such as bees and wasps are attracted to the nasturtium blossoms. The blossoms themselves are edible, adding a peppery freshness to a salad.
Cabbage and Peas
Beans and peas enrich the soil with nitrogen and so are good companion plantings for others that take a lot of nutrients from the soil, such as corn and cabbage.