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Garden Folklore:Companion Planting
Bonnie Moss (c) 2006-09

Farmers and gardeners of long –gone past were 
aware of the importance of keeping some form 
of order in their farming or gardening to keep 
the plants healthy, repel insects and pests with 
no other tool but the plants and how they are 
grouped together. Plants that are not friendly 
together are planted separately.

There were no supportive scientific data to 
back up their findings. They conducted their 
experiments, with their lands as the laboratory 
using the trial and error method year after year. 
This method of gardening helps to keep this 
earth healthy, minimize if not eliminate the 
use of chemicals for growth or pest and disease 
control. It keeps the soil balanced.

Plants can be good companions to one another. 
They provide pest and insect control to their 
neighbors. It can be the scent, hormones and 
oils coming from their roots, flowers or leaves 
that help to discourage disease and harmful 
pests without losing their beneficial assets.

Taller sun-loving plants provide shade for the 
shorter plants that prefer the shade.

Some plants provide extra nutrients, such as 
deep- rooted plants that bring out sulfur, 
potassium and calcium to the surface, for the 
benefit of the shallow-rooted ones to share.

Some plants act as fungicide, insect and pest 
repellants. Some plants accumulate sulfur well 
and this gives an odor that many pests avoid.

Flowers and leaves with strong scent are known 
to repel flying insects.

Secretions from the roots inhibit weeds and kill 
parasitic worms and nematodes.

Some gardeners provide a trap plant to absorb 
the disease or attract harmful pests without 
causing harm to itself

These plants can be used as borders, ground 
covers,backdrops or interplant to keep the 
plants happy and healthy and in good company.

Some good neighbors and partners

Marigolds top the list. The strong scent from 
the flowers and foliage repel pests and the 
roots inhibit nematodes. Plant with vegetables 
and other flowering plants.

CAUTION: Marigolds are not friendly with 
herbaceous plants. The root secretions can 
inhibit the growth of the herbs. If you must 
plant marigolds with herbs, don’t plant them 
too close, keep them around the edges.

Foxglove ( Digitalis) have beautiful flowers and 
it is known to stimulate the growth of plants 
near it. It makes the neigboring plants disease 
resistant. It improves the storage qualities of 
fruits and vegetables and root vegetables probably 
due to gaseous secretions and minute hormones.

Insect repellants : Many flowers used as border 
plants repel flying insects, such as: coreopsis, 
coriander, cosmos, geranium, marigolds, 
chrysanthemum, marjoram, oregano

Most vegetables are friendly to one another.

Peas and beans make good companions for other 
plants because the roots fix the nitrogen supply 
for the other plants,

Onions and garlic and other plants from the alium 
family are beneficial to plants around them. These 
plants are known as good fungicides and insecticides. 
They accumulate sulfur very efficiently and the 
odor they emit repels many pest and other pesky 
four-legged critters. Plant with cabbage, tomatoes, 
peas, corn. Good for roses too.

Unfriendly neighbors: Avoid planting these together 
for they are unfriendly and definitely not 
good companions:

rue and basil
runner beans and potatoes
beets and beans
beans and onions or garlic
strawberries and cabbage
dill and carrots
cucumber and potato, no strong herbs
potato – no cucumber, pumpkin, raspberry, squash, 
     sunflower, tomato

Fennel prefers to be by itself.

This is just a short list.

Herbs are good companions to most plants. 
The strong scent repels most pests. Some herbs 
are also known to bring out potassium, sulfur 
and calcium to the soil surface for the plants 
around it to benefit from. Chamomile is 
especially favored for these qualities.

This can be a topic by itself for herb gardeners.

Reference: Garden Folklore that Works by Charlie Ryrie

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Ref: Garden Folklore that Works by Charlie Ryrie