Principle 4:
Companion Planting

Goal: Focus on the whole garden
to create a thriving mini-ecosystem with
beneficial interrelationships

Companion planting strengthens the whole farm by crop and layout choices that support beneficial relationships between plants, insects, and the soil.

Companion planting includes choosing crops that are good neighbors and encourage each other’s growth. Good companion plants can follow one another in the same area, grow next to one another at the same time, or be interplanted to cooperatively share the same space. Avoid putting plants in the same area or space that inhibit each other’s growth. Observing patterns can teach you a lot about companion plants.


Plant a deep- and thick-rooting grain like rye after a root crop to loosen the soil. Interplant beans with corn to help support soil nitrogen and efficiently use the above-soil area while covering the soil thoroughly. Plant basil near tomatoes to encourage both growth and flavor.

Companion planting draws a diverse insect population to the garden by using plants of many types and colors that flower all-season long. Additionally, a place for insects to drink water and to be protected at night can be helpful. These actions will support a balance of beneficial insects that prey on insect pests and pollinate the crops. Lastly, choosing strong-scented plants, like marigolds, will help repel unwanted insects.

Companion planting benefits your plants, and the beneficial insects that help keep your garden thriving!

Roll over the picture with your mouse to view second image
1: Traditional companion plants, corn, beans and squash;
2: A pollinator enjoys the environment created by companion planting.

Crop rotation is another way to use companion planting. Crop rotation means that crops of the same family are not planted in the same place within three years, creating diversity in the bed and over time AND minimizing disease pressure; therefore caring for the living soil and the whole garden.

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