February 18, 2011

My Companion Group Garden Plan

In my last garden post, Garden Gazintas, I shared the experiment I'm going to try this year, that of planting the entire garden with groups of companion plants rather than one vegetable per bed or row. I've finally worked out a plan, so here it is and how I came up with it.

I started by making a list of everything I want to plant this spring and summer. My list of ordered seed is here. My list of saved seeds is here. Note that some of those will go in to the herb garden I'm developing. Some will be planted in the fall. The plan here doesn't include corn, pole beans, and pumpkins, because I plan to plant these as the 3 sisters in the area we're preparing for the corn patch.

In the main garden then, I plan to plant:

  • amaranth
  • beans, dry soup (bush)
  • beets
  • cabbage
  • cantaloupe
  • carrots
  • chard
  • cowpeas
  • cucumber
  • eggplant
  • lettuce
  • okra
  • onions
  • peas (English)
  • peppers, sweet
  • peppers, hot
  • popcorn
  • potatoes
  • radish
  • squash, summer
  • squash, winter
  • sunflowers
  • sweet potatoes
  • tomato, paste
  • tomato, table
  • watermelon

Then I made a list of herbs:

  • basil, sweet
  • basil, cinnamon
  • borage
  • cilantro
  • dill
  • horseradish (in pots)
  • parsley, Italian
  • summer savory

So far these are mostly annuals, except the parsley which is biennial, and the horseradish which I kept potted last summer. Since we till and rotate, I don't want put any perennials in this garden, but I may try more of those potted. With the horseradish, I partially sank the pot, which aided keeping the soil moist. It was easy to remove the pot when I needed to. I could do the same with perennial herbs, like peppermint and rosemary.

Lastly I made a list of annual flowers that are supposed to be beneficials:

  • calendula
  • cosmos
  • four o'clocks
  • marigolds
  • morning glories
  • petunias
  • queen anne's lace (volunteers)

From there I looked at lists of companion plants. There are lots of these in books and around the internet.  For anyone who's interested, here are some of the websites I found helpful:

Companion Planting at Golden Harvest Organics
Companion Planting at West Coast Seeds
List of Companion Plants at Wikipedia
Companion Planting at New Self Sufficient Living
Companion Planting Chart for Herbs at Garden Simply

These lists not identical, which is one reason why I used so many. It also means that I'm not entirely confident about some of my groupings. But then, when it comes to gardening, I'm a firm believer that something is better than nothing. Even if a grouping doesn't work out, I'll gather important information and can make adjustments next year and following.

Once I had some groups figured out, I made a rough sketch on paper. I have a few things that I'm leaving in the garden to collect seed, so I just worked these into my companion groups. In the future I'll plan ahead better for that. Since I'm still learning the planting schedule for this area, I jotted in the recommended planting dates as well.

click for bigger

In reality, no bed will be more than whatever is easily accessible by an arm's reach from either side. If one bed isn't enough of a thing, I'll plant two. Or three. This is still a work in progress, and likely some things will change before everything gets planted, but at least I have a plan! Just in time too because I plant peas this month! I reckon it's time to get to work on more than just paper.

My Companion Group Garden Plan © February 2011 


Doyu Shonin said...


Anonymous said...

That's a lot of research! And I am looking forward to reading how it turns out. I have always loved having flowers in the veggie patch.

Lynda said...

Boy did you do a ton of research! Thanks...I'm not going to re-invent the wheel: I'll just follow what you do!! You just made my job easier!

Leigh said...

Risa, thank you!

Evelyn, I love flowers in the veggie garden too, so now I'm wondering why I didn't attempt to do something like this sooner.

Lynda, well, all I did was personalize someone else's idea! Once you get started, you'll find yourself doing the same thing. :)

Kelle at The Never Done Farm said...

Looks wonderful, can't wait to see your pictures( hint, hint), when it's all growing and lovely*wink*

We too have been leaning more and more toward companion planting, sheet mulching and raised beds, verses single rows, tilling all year long and loss of moisture. It just makes sense. :o)


The Mom said...

My goodness, that's a lot to take in! I've thought about doing something similar and abandoned the idea for various reasons. It will be interesting to see how it all works out.

Mr. H. said...

What a great plan, I can't wait to hear more about how well some of these companion plant pairings do for you. You have obviously put a tremendous amount of thought into this. Thanks for all the great ideas and I am looking forward to checking out the links you have provided.

Wow, peas going in already, our soil is still frozen solid...looks like I will have to live vicariously through you for a couple more months.:)

Mama Pea said...

Not only do I think your various crops are going to be better than ever because of the companion planting, but your garden will be a vision to behold! It may resemble a well-planned out flower garden more than a vegetable garden! I, too, am so eager for pictures throughout the season.

Alla said...

A really nice plan. I will be looking forward to pictures also. My peas won't be going in until probably the middle of next month, unless it gets warmer sooner. I've been doing raised beds for several years now and love how easy it it to take care of. Keep us posted on the progress.

Toni aka irishlas said...

Can't wait to see how it all turns out! You're so organized!

What Pigs Don't Know said...

Thanks for sharing this with us, Leigh. Great information! But you're worrying me - I don't see any garlic! Are you a garlic-hater? Say it isn't so! -Carrie

Grace said...

Awesome! I'll put my first early seeds in next weekend! I'm so geeked out. Is it ridiculous to be this excited about gardening again?

Leigh said...

Kelle, oh yes, lots of pictures, I promise! I have to tell you though, that I haven't yet talked DH out of his tiller. Still, we're discussing some things we've been reading in John Seymour, so who knows?

Heather, I agree. It's a lot to take in and figure out. If you every have a chance, do read Sally Jean Cunningham's book, Great Garden Conmpanions. She explains it all very well so that I figured I may as well jump on in and see what happens!

Mike, thanks! Funny about soil temp. By the time you're planting peas, mine will probably be having a heat stroke! LOL

Mama Pea, oh I hope so! I hope it does look as pretty as a flower garden. And since I love to take pictures (woulda shoulda taken up photography in college rather than those other things), they'll be plenty of photos.

Alla, I love how you say raised beds are easy to take care of! I've been thinking along the lines of permanent beds, of which the ones at the bottom of the garden, where the drainage is poor, would have to be raised. However, one step at a time.

Toni, only on paper. ;)

Carrie, oh, we love garlic! Ours is planted in the fall though. In fact, I have a small bed that I'll harvest later on. My fall garden plan will include garlic and other cool weather lovers. Really, I will probably wait to plant my garlic, beets, carrots, broccoli, kale, etc in the fall.

Grace, it's great to be that excited about gardening! I put some lettuce and radish seeds in the ground yesterday. The weather was so pretty I couldn't resist!

Michelle said...

Your garden plan is awesome Leigh!

Looks like you're going to get tons of produce.

Nina said...

companion planting certainly works. I've found I get my best Basil harvests when I plant it near the tomatoes. The flowers make the garden a beautiful place to work as well as being useful. I'll have to admit to growing up with companion planting and never thought there might be books about it. I didn't even think of it as companion planting or anything special. We just always planted our marigolds with certain plants, the radishes with slower germinating carrots and other plants together. I guess having a parent who grew up on a truck farm taught me things I didn't even know I knew!