Wild Men on the North Fork

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Companion Planting

My gardening partner, Mark McAtee, and I were already practicing some intensive planting, and companion planting before we started growing in raised beds. As soon as we decided to build raised beds we realized

Companion planting is half practicality and half folklore. It involves some experimentation on your own, and a skeptical view of everyone else's results. There simply is not enough known, data gathered scientifically, and theories that have passed repeated tests, for me to embrace it without reservation. But having done some of it, I can say that it generally works.

Companion planting is mixing different species of plants close together in the garden, to the mutual benefit of all species involved. You are probably doing a little bit of this already. The practice is based upon one core idea stated below by Nancy Bubel in The New Seed Starters Handbook:

I already had Carrots Love Tomatoes by Louise Riotte, a book on companion planting, to fall back on. So I dug back into it to glean some insights. She makes it quite clear that plants can have both beneficial and detrimental effects upon each other. If one accepts that plants can affect each other, then her claim that those effects can be either positive or negative is self evident.


At top left are some of the companion plantings we did in our raised beds in 2001. We successfully planted Beets with Broccoli and Cauliflower; Carrots with Beans, Lettuce, and Musk Mellon; Onions with Peppers, Lettuce, and Carrots.

We also planted Onions with Broccoli which tended to shade the Onion more than it liked, and with Cauliflower which was a huge failure. The Onions planted with Cauliflower withered and died, as if poisoned. In the future we will not plant onions with any of the cabbage family.

At bottom left are some companion plantings we did in 2002. Note that as the Cauliflower comes ripe it is removed, leaving more room for the Beets to grow.

A good practice, when companion planting in a raised bed is to put taller varieties to the North, and shorter varieties to the South. This allows sunlight to reach all the plants evenly.

NOTE: Interplantings of companionable plants confuse preditor insects. Studies have shown that plantings of intermixed vegetables fare better than plantings of solid uni-crop plantings, as far as insect predation is concerned.

Below is a chart to help you decide what to plant with what. It is based only on what I have observed on my own. Your experiences might vary somewhat.

Note: Fennel is universally disliked by other plants because of the exude from its roots.

Plant Variety Like - Dislike Companion?+?>?<?
Bush Bean
+++ +++
Pole Beans, Carrots, Corn, Cucumber, Dill

Musk Melon, Potato, Pumpkin, Squash,

Note: do not plant more than one variety of bean in a bed. Two's company and three's a crowd.

Bush Bean
>>> <<<
Alliums: Onion, Garlic, etc.
Pole Bean
+++ +++
Pole Beans, Carrots, Corn, Cucumber

Musk Melon, Potato, Pumpkin, Squash,

Pole Bean
>>> <<<
Alliums: Onion, Garlic, etc., strawberries
Beets
+++ +++
Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower
Beets
>>> <<<
Pole Bean?
Broccoli
+++ +++
Beets, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Dill
Broccoli
>>> <<<
Tomato
Brussel Sprouts
+++ +++
Beets, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower
Brussel Sprouts
>>> <<<
Tomato
Cabbage
+++ +++
Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflower, Beets?
Cabbage
>>> <<<
Tomato
Chinese Cabbage
+++ +++
Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower
Chinese Cabbage
>>> <<<
Tomato
Carrot
+++ +++
Bush Bean, Chard, Lettuce, Onion, Tomato, NOTE: we saw evidence this year that Onions and some Carrot variteties may not be compatible.
Carrot
>>> <<<
Dill, NOTE: we saw evidence this year that Onions and some Carrot variteties may not be compatible.
Cauliflower
+++ +++
Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage,
Cauliflower
>>> <<<
Onion, Tomato
Corn
+++ +++
Beans, Peas, Potato, Cucumber, Pumpkin,

Squash, Musk Melon

Corn
>>> <<<
?
Cucumber
+++ +++
Beans, Peas, Corn, Dill

Note: Cucumbers should be kept as far away from each other as possible. Otherwise the seeds will be huge. They should be kept away from Zucchini and Melons too as they love to cross with them.

Cucumber
>>> <<<
Potato
Lettuce
+++ +++
Carrot, Chard, Cucumber, Dill, Onion, Radish
Lettuce
>>> <<<
?
Musk Melon
+++ +++
Corn, Sunflower
Musk Melon
>>> <<<
?
Onion
+++ +++
Beets, Carrot, Dill, Lettuce, Pepper, Tomato, NOTE: we saw evidence this year that Onions and some Carrot variteties may not be compatible.
Onion
>>> <<<
Beans, Cauliflower, Peas, (the other Brassicaceae ?), NOTE: we saw evidence this year that Onions and some Carrot variteties may not be compatible.
Pea
+++ +++
Beans, Carrot, Corn, Cucumber, Potato, Radish
Pea
>>> <<<
Alliums: Onion, Garlic, etc.
Pepper
+++ +++
Onion, (the other Alluims?)
Pepper
>>> <<<
Morning Glory
Potato
+++ +++
Peas, Watermelon
Potato
>>> <<<
Pumpkin
Pumpkin
+++ +++
Beans, Corn, Musk Melon, Peas, Squash,
Pumpkin
>>> <<<
Potato
Radish
+++ +++
Beans, Beets, Carrot, Cucumber, Squash
Radish
>>> <<<
Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower
Squash
+++ +++
Corn, Cucumber, Musk Melon, Pumpkin, Rasish
Squash
>>> <<<
?
Tomato
+++ +++
Basil, Carrot, Onion
Tomato
>>> <<<
Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Fennel, Potato
Watermelon
+++ +++
Potato
Watermelon
>>> <<<
?

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