Are you growing tomatoes in your vegetable garden this year? And with all that effort, you’re definitely going to want to grow bright, juicy, red fruit that tastes heavenly. Growing tomatoes together with other, very specific vegetables, herbs or flowers can be of great benefit to the health of the plants you are putting all your time and effort into.
Companion planting is a gardening method that involves pairing vegetable plants together so they thrive better when they are grown together. It has been shown that strawberries and green beans grow better together than they do when they are grown separately. Another known pairing is Bibb lettuce with spinach. These plants are known to have complementary physical needs, thus making them great companions.
Every beginner gardener needs to know that when growing tomatoes, the plants need to be pollinated to produce fruit. Attracting pollinating insects is the best way to pollinate your fruit. If there are no insects around, an alternative is to gently shake the plants by hand so that the pollen from the males reaches the female receptors. Companion planting with flowers is a terrific method for attracting pollinator insects such as bees. Try planting petunias or heliotrope beside your growing tomatoes. Pollination is just one of the benefits of companion planting.
The other benefit to companion planting is that you can actually repel unwanted insects that might otherwise be attracted to your vegetable plants. If you place flowering plants such as pot marigolds (Calendula) near your growing tomatoes, you will be armed with one of the great pest deterrents of the garden. Pot marigolds discourage many insects such as asparagus beetle and tomato worm.
Garlic is also a great repellant. It can help keep spider mites at bay, especially during the hottest summer months. I always find that garlic and onions smell so strongly when they are planted in the vegetable garden. Just imagine what kind of a sensory response an insect might have!
Parsley and basil, when planted around growing tomatoes may help to grow vigorous plants. Many gardeners have noted healthier, tastier fruit when planted together with parsley and basil. Perhaps this is why they taste so great together! Bee balm and mint are some other herb companions for growing tomatoes as they help improve growth and flavor.
On the other hand, there is a case to be made for avoiding growing tomatoes and potatoes together. They are both in the nightshade family, which means they are susceptible to the same diseases, in this case, blight. If one vegetable gets blight, it will easily spread to the other plant. Other vegetables to avoid having nearby are fennel, cabbage and Kohlrabi.
Other tips for growing tomatoes successfully include using the tomato plants themselves to make compost. Tomatoes love to rise out of the compost of previous tomato plants. And, it is beneficial to use the same spot for growing tomatoes for a period of five years. That sounds like a commitment well worth the effort, given the succulent rewards.
And finally, if you want to discover more about vegetable gardening, you should visit myraisedvegetablegarden.com for more resources like this article. Discover raised bed vegetable gardening and tips for growing, planting and harvesting your own vegetables grown at home. Click on the link above and visit the website. Jessica Salvador is a Certified Landscape Horticulturist living in Vancouver, BC.
Thanks for reading!