Companion planting is part science and folklore. Grouping friendly plants together in the garden is suppose to help enhance growth, flavor and protect plants from pests. As an urban gardener with a small garden, my interest in companion planting is mostly centered on maximizing space. If my tomatoes actually benefit from growing alongside these plants, well, that’s a bonus.
Here are 12 companion plants I grow with my tomatoes in containers.1. Borage
Borage is suppose to protect tomatoes from tomato hornworms, but the science behind that has yet to be proven. Although, last year I didn’t grow borage alongside my tomatoes and I caught my first tomato hornworms in the garden. So maybe there’s something to be said for its repelling properties. Grow borage for the leaves and flowers that have a fresh, cucumber-like flavor. Add the young leaves and blooms to salads, soups, and summer drinks.
The genus Tagetes is well known for it’s qualities to repel garden pests. They produce a substance called alpha-terthienyl, which helps reduce root-knot nematodes in the soil.
Sometimes called pot marigold, but the Calendula genus should not be confused with marigolds listed as number 3. They’re completely different plants. Calendula leaves and blooms are edible and make a nice addition to salads.
I’ll plant a crop of carrots early in the season with my tomatoes before the tomatoes take off. Then plant another crop towards the end of the season when the tomato plants are on their last leg. Any time in between and I grow stunted--but still flavorful--carrots as they compete with the roots of mature tomatoes for space in the soil.
I grow both hot and sweet peppers alongside my container tomatoes every year. The drought and heat this year is reportedly the cause of some really hot peppers showing up in markets. If you’re growing peppers for heat, growing them alongside tomatoes may not be the best choice. My peppers have been spared the effects of the heat and drought because they’re growing in self-watering containers alongside the tomatoes.
12. Leaf lettuce
Growing leaf lettuce (and other leafy greens) in the same container as my tomatoes acts as a living mulch which helps keep the soil cooler, and reduces the chances of spreading diseases from water and soil splashing on the leaves.
How effective companion planting is in the garden is up for debate. But what isn’t up for debate is that many of the recommended plants are easy to grow. Growing these and other recommended plants alongside your tomatoes increase your overall garden harvest.
What do you pair up with tomatoes in your garden?
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