Plant associations for dummies

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The associations of plants in the garden: What do I do with what? Who likes who? .

As soon as he tries to draw his plantations, the gardener is confronted with this question: I put what beside tomatoes, can I plant garlic in my strawberries? Groww is trying to help you see things clearly !

A small preamble however: the crop associations, it’s great, but it is better to start the garden, sow or plant at the right time and in the right place , that associate plants together in February! A word to you …

Tables of associations, there are plenty on the internet , for example here or elsewhere! But often, nobody explains why and how , and these tables are often too complicated! So, we looked at the reasons that explain why gourds go well with corn, and Camille made you a little drawing  with twenty vegetables of the most common vegetable, in a form more funny than a table sadness:

Well, if you prefer to read a list, here it is, before you explain the why of how:

  • Chantal Garlic and Raymond Onion  : beetroot, lettuce, carrot, tomato
  • Eric Basil and Basil parsley : tomatoes
  • Gustave the beetroot : garlic, onions, spinach, beans
  • Charlotte la Carotte  : leek, onion, lettuce, peas, radish, tomato, beans, chives
  • Huguette Chives : cucumber, carrots
  • Michou le Chou  : beans, lettuce, peas, potatoes
  • Cucumber (go there, find a name in “shadow”)  : peas, but, lettuce, beans, chives
  • Marge la Courge  : corn, lettuce
  • Bernard l’ Epinard  : beetroot, strawberry, lettuce, beans, radish
  • Thérèse the Strawberry  : spinach, beans, thyme
  • Rico the bean : potato, carrot, cucumber, cabbage, strawberry, beetroot, spinach, but
  • Lulu Lettuce  : cabbage, carrot, radish, cucumber, squash
  • The maylis But : potatoes, peas, squash, beans and peas
  • Vincente the Mint : turnip.
  • Hervé the Turnip : pea, mint
  • Enzo leek : onion, tomato, carrot, lettuce
  • François le Pois : turnip, cucumber, carrot, radish, corn, potato, cabbage
  • Esther the Potato : beans, corn, cabbage, peas
  • Andy the Radish : peas, lettuce, carrot, spinach
  • Martin Thyme : Strawberries
  • Matt the Tomatoes : garlic & onion, carrot, leek, basil, parsley

Come on, let’s go for explanations!

The same farming conditions, yes!

First thing: it is difficult to put together plants that do not accept the same growing conditions at all – or we know what to expect! If a plant requires pronounced shade, it will not be placed in a companion plant that loves full sun – unless the second can protect the first rays too strong!

Another example: garlic or onions, which prevent certain diseases – allicin would have fungicidal effects – so we can plant between rows of strawberry to protect them! But since the strawberry needs water – or a good mulch ^^ – and alliums hate it, do not expect a wonderful harvest of garlic or onions!

A plant association that we like: sowing radishes and carrots together ! Radish growing fast, before the carrot, so you will avoid weeding and the proximity of carrots seems to soften the radishes!

Competition over resources, no!

Then, we avoid putting together plants that require the same nutrients and will therefore find themselves in direct competition: squash, voracious in resources, will leave only crumbs to other plants a little greedy like tomato or apples. Earth. It’s the same thing, even within a common genus: so we rarely plant row beans near dwarf beans, eggplants next to tomatoes – Solanaceae both. Hence, also, the idea of ​​not replant every year these greedy plants in the same place – and rotate .

Plants prone to common diseases, either.

Common sense: in combination plants, we do not put together plants that will attract the same diseasesor “pests” (note however the quotation marks, you know we do not like this word)! Tomatoes and potatoes are often removed – both subject to mildew , which spreads in a flash!

One produces what the other needs, yes!

Legumes enrich the soil with nitrogen – needed to grow tomatoes, cucumber, melon , or even squash, very greedy! Nettles also pick up nitrogen from the soil, and if you usually remove them from your vegetable garden, learn to leave them a place : they are made of liquid manure, soup, or simply for a localized nitrogen supply!

One protects the other, yes!

We notice that certain plants keep certain insects away from them, which sometimes tend to eat the same vegetables as we do – hence the idea of ​​placing them near them:

  • Thus, thyme would remove white flies, protect cabbages and broccoli.
  • The sage repels slugs, and carrot fly.
  • The scent of leeks , onions, shallot, garlic repels most flies.
  • The aromatics (rosemary, sage, savory, thyme) act against radish flea beetles and the cabbage of all cabbages .

The aphid is a special case – be aware that each plant species attracts colonies of different aphids and aphids on your nasturtiums do not attack your salads! On the other hand, if you place nasturtiums in the kitchen garden, you will attract the predators of the aphids, which do not make a distinction between the different species of aphids, yum.

Some classic and useful associations!

The three sisters

But, squash and rake beans : this association is well known because it was traditionally used by the Amerindian ethnic groups of North America and Central America. Corn is used as a rake bean guardian ; squash relieves the gardener from weeding , creates a microclimate at ground level to reduce watering ; The beans do not interfere with the corn and squash, or even bring them nitrogen . And we gain space up!

How to do ? 
Sow sweet corn in a row of 2 or 3 seeds every 30 cm. Space the 80 cm lines. You will later keep the most vigorous plant of each pouch. 
At the same time sow squash (maxima) eg pumpkin or potimarron in scoop. 
Once the maize plants are a few inches (15 – 20 cm) sow two or three seeds of kidney bean. 
Then plant your squash on the line (or a little staggered) every 2 meters.

Strawberries and borage

The strawberry flower needs to be visited several times by the pollinators to form beautiful fruits – however nectar and strawberry pollen does not always attract enough pollinators. Borage in reverse is very coveted by bees and other bumblebees!

NB: if you do not know what borage looks like, plus it’s pretty: look at the picture at the top of this article!

And diversity?

In general, consider your garden as a rich and varied ecosystem – with flowers in the kitchen garden, shady areas too, some shelters for auxiliary insects garden  – it’s a simple way to make associations !

Dr. Kimberly Seltzer

Postdoctoral Scholar, UC Berkeley Research Assistant, MIT

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