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Companion Planting for Every Garden

by Robert Wayne

As we move out of winter and into spring, it’s the perfect time to start prepping your garden. Hopefully you cleaned up your garden last fall and got the soil ready for winter. Now’s the time to start thinking about how you’re going to arrange your garden this year and decide on which seeds you’ll need to grow. Before too long, you’re going to need to start your seedlings. And if you haven’t done it before, you might want to think about companion planting.

Companion planting is based on the concept of planting certain crops among each other to benefit the others. One famous example of that is the “Three Sisters” approach to planting corn, squash, and beans.

The corn stalk provides a natural pole for climbing beans to grow on. The beans fix nitrogen in the soil, helping the corn which is a heavy feeder. The squash grows low along the ground, shading the ground to help suppress weeds and maintain soil moisture for the thirsty corn.

It can take some getting used to companion planting in this manner, as you don’t want to end up with a mass of overgrown vines and stalks going every which way. But done the right way, companion planting can be a useful method of improving your garden’s yield, suppressing weeds and pests, and making the most out of the resources you have.

Examples of common companion plants abound, but you can find some examples here.

The one thing you’re going to want to do is experiment with which combinations of plants work best in your garden. And don’t forget to rotate your crops either. Even in small gardens, planting the same crops in the same places year after year can lead to decreased nitrogen and nutrients in the soil, and can provide conditions favorable to pests and bacterial or fungal growth.

Planning your garden early and making sure that you stick to your plan can go a long way toward success in the spring and summer. And companion planting may be able to help you achieve your goals.

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