We looked in some detail at the Square Foot Gardening method in a previous post, and today we’re going to look at a companion method to SFG: companion planting.

Companion planting is all in the name. Some plants are happiest when they are with their good friends; friends who help them pollinate, fend off pests, or even friends that improve the soil for their buddies. In other words, plants do best when supported by good companions.

 

Don’t we humans too?


Advantages

One of the main advantages of companion planting is that nasty, veg-decimating critters are less able to take advantage than if you have planted rows and rows of the same crop. To put it another way, it’s very easy for veggies or fruits of the same type, to be wiped out or even completely destroyed by a sting attack from some kamikaze bugs. Believe us when we say we know how hard it hurts to lose an entire crop thanks to the damage caused by a particularly nasty bug. We’re looking at you, aphids. Planting herbs amongst your brassicas can be a great way to stop any interested insects as they won’t like the smell of your herbs.

Companion planting also means that you can provide natural protection for your crops. If you plant tall plants, like sweet corn, they can provide shade and shelter to their low growing, more delicate buddies such as spinach. This means that everyone gets along nicely in the veg bed and that your corn, and your spinach can grow to their full potential.

Growing your veggies like this also helps gardeners to get as much from the soil and limited space as possible. Fast growers planted amongst slower growers help to keep the soil free from weeds and can add vital nutrients to your compost mix as well.


Classic Companions

Some classic companions in the plant world are courgette and calendula. Not only do these guys both produce bright yellow and orange flowers, but the calendula also helps to pollinate the courgette flowers by attracting pollinating insects (the good kind). Runner beans and nasturtium, and roses and garlic are all also wonderful friends. Nasturtiums help to attract aphids away from the beans, while garlic prevents them getting anywhere near your beautiful blooming roses.

There are loads of plants that work really well with other to ward off pests, shelter and nurture, and that are even supposed to improve the taste of their friends. So, why not give it a go? Start off slow and easy with a packet of nasturtium seeds sprinkled in a bed with some spare space. Enjoy how easy these guys are to sow, watch them bloom their brilliant blooms and see how well they ward off aphids from your veg patch.

Fortunately for you, we’ve got the perfect vegetable beds designed to suit both the SFG and companion planting method. Our raised vegetable beds, three tiered bed, and our 9-square bed all make the perfect beds for gardeners who want to get started with some serious vegetable growing. You can take a look at them all here – go on, what are you waiting for?!