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Growing mixed culture in the garden – How to distinguish between good and bad neighbors in the vegetable patch

You can choose certain varieties of plants for mixed culture in the garden, although some of them should not grow together. Therefore, to achieve a robust harvest, you can grow some vegetables that grow better together next to each other in the vegetable patch. This is a great way to maximize the efficiency of your garden. For almost every vegetable you grow, there is likely a useful companion plant that will help increase soil nutrients, repel pests, and help you get the most out of your garden. Here are some ideas and information about common varieties and neighboring plants to use as a mixed crop in your own garden.

Tips for planting a mixed culture in the garden

gardener gathers ripe vegetables like pumpkins and eggplants in the garden

Unlike other areas of gardening, neighboring planting is not always based on hard scientific facts, but on observation. In addition, there is always an element of trial and error to see what works best. However, if you think of your vegetable garden as a biodiversity system where plants are all interconnected and interdependent, you can make better decisions. There can be many benefits to this approach.

elderly woman picking green beans

Plants also play a role in soil fertility by improving nutrient supply, availability and uptake from the soil. Tall plant varieties such as corn can provide shade to green crops such as lettuces that do not do well in the hot summer sun, as well as support for plants that require trellises. Planting a variety of vegetables can also still help mark garden rows and distinguish fast-growing plants like radishes from slow-growing varieties. Proper companion planting can even help suppress weeds. Listed below are combinations of plants you should rather not grow together.

Corn and tomato neighbor plants

fresh harvest of corn on the cob and tomatoes from a vegetable garden during summer

Both tomatoes and corn are susceptible to worm and fungal infestations, so an infestation in one area could spread to the other. So plant your tomatoes with basil or chives to improve flavor, but avoid dill in the process. Carrots, however, are another good choice. Pair corn more with beans and squash. Basil and tomatoes go together, not only in sauces, but also in the garden.

various vegetables such as corn in combination with tomatoes and radishes harvested early after ripening

This herb helps tomatoes to increase yields and repels both flies and mosquitoes. Marigolds are another good companion, repelling nematodes and other garden pests. Other friends of tomatoes include asparagus, carrots, celery, the onion family, lettuce, parsley and spinach. Neighbors you should not plant with tomatoes are: Cabbage, beets, peas, fennel and rosemary. So keep these plants separate to prevent the spread of pests or diseases.

Mixed culture in the garden with peppers, cabbage or beans.

ripe peppers growing next to mixed crops in the garden

Cabbage and other vegetables of the cabbage family, such as broccoli and kohlrabi inhibit the growth of vegetables of the nightshade family, such as peppers. However, there are suitable companion plantings for peppers. This vegetable does well with onions, tomatoes and eggplant, while cabbage should be planted with mint, cucumbers or lettuce. Basil is also a good friend to peppers, helping to repel aphids, spider mites, mosquitoes and flies. Basil is also thought to improve the flavor of peppers. Other good companions are onions, spinach and tomatoes. What you should avoid are beans, so the tendrils don’t spread between the plants.

red bell pepper and good and bad neighbors in the vegetable patch

Corn and beans grow well together because beans grow on the stalks of corn. This means you don’t have to build a trellis for them. Also, beans fix nitrogen in the soil, which is good for corn. Marigolds, nasturtiums, rosemary and savory repel bean beetles, and savory improves growth rate as well as flavor. Other companions include broccoli, Brussels sprouts and other members of this family along with cucumbers, peas, potatoes and radishes. Beets or anything in the onion family interferes with bean growth, with onions in particular interfering with bean plant thriving.

Avoid neighborhood between sage and cucumbers

plant cucumbers correctly and benefit from improved harvests

Sage tends to adversely affect cucumber plants, inhibiting growth and attracting harmful insects. Companion plantings for cucumbers would be dill, peas and radishes. Plant sage with your rosemary or with cabbage and carrots where it will deter insects that can harm these plant varieties. Also, plant marigolds and nasturtiums among your cucumbers to repel aphids and bugs. Beans, celery, corn and lettuce are also good neighboring plants. Bad neighbors for cucumbers would be aromatic herbs like the aforementioned sage, which can stunt your growth.

Mixed culture in the garden of potatoes and zucchini neighbor plants

potatoes collected in a garden cart next to other crops

Both zucchini and potatoes grow quickly, but the latter can be voracious eaters. They consume the available nutrients in the soil and make zucchini fight for its life. Therefore, zucchini tends to thrive with corn, where the vines have a place to climb. Melons and beans are also suitable neighbors for this plant variety. Corn and squash are good garden friends because the stalks of corn give vines a place to grow. Zucchini and squash also do well next to beans, peas, radishes, dill and marigolds. Pumpkins and summer squash can also easily pollinate each other, leaving you with odd-looking hybrid vegetables. Grow your summer squash with edible nasturtiums to control pests. Grow potatoes rather near horseradish, beans or herbs like basil and thyme.

Carrots and parsnips

woman carrying a basket of leafy vegetables and carrots in the garden

Carrots are sensitive to heat, so they go well with tomato plants that can provide them with some shade. Tomatoes are also known to produce solanine. This is a natural insecticide that controls pests that attack carrots. Tomatoes also benefit from carrots because they aerate the soil around the roots of tomato plants, allowing more air and water to reach the roots. Leeks and carrots are also good neighboring plants, as leeks repel flies and carrots repel moths and onion flies.

harvesting parsnips from the vegetable garden

Rosemary, sage and chives are equally good at helping to repel flies. Carrots and parsnips are susceptible to the same diseases and pests, which increases the risk that you will lose both plants to infestation. Parsnips do well near tomatoes, peppers, onions and garlic. Cilantro and dill are not good ideas for neighboring plants, as both produce compounds that can harm carrots.

Avoid mixed gardening with fennel and eggplant.

homegrown eggplant in the garden

Although fennel can keep harmful insects away from plants, it’s best to keep it out of the vegetable garden. It inhibits the growth of eggplant and many other vegetables. Eggplants tend to need nitrogen-rich soil, so it’s best to plant them with beans. This is especially true of bush beans, which can repel pests in eggplants. Fennel, unfortunately, is not very suitable for mixed cultivation in the garden. Keep it best away from your vegetables and herbs by growing the vegetable in a separate bed or raised bed.

Peas and garlic

cultivated garlic in the soil grows in the vegetable garden

When planted together, the sulfur compounds found in pungent garlic bulbs inhibit the growth of sensitive pea plants. Garlic repels many types of pests and even creatures such as rabbits. Plant this vegetable near other vegetables and herbs such as tomatoes, eggplant and dill.

young family with child harvests vegetables from mixed culture in their own garden

You can grow your peas with beans, corn or cucumbers. Follow these guidelines for your future mixed garden crop to increase your yields, minimize pest or disease problems, and simplify garden management.