What is companion planting?  Scientifically speaking, companion planting encompasses a number of strategies that com-plantingaincrease the biodiversity of agricultural ecosystems (or, your garden).  In simple terms, it’s the idea that certain plants can benefit others when planted in near proximity.  Advantages include attracting beneficial insects; repelling pests; deer control; the production of higher and healthier yields; and providing nutrients, shade, or support for surrounding vegetation.  This method of planting employs an organic gardening strategy.  The goal is to achieve a balance in the garden to avoid the use of chemicals for pest or disease control.

We looked to the Farmers’ Almanac for some simple starter companion planting suggestions:

•    Beans work with just about everything.  Plant them next to tomatoes or spinach.

•    Place a small amount of horseradish near your potatoes to increase the disease resistance. Replenish as necessary.

•    Summer cornfields can be converted to pumpkin fields.

•    Developed by Native Americans, the “three sisters” method consists of growing corn, beans, and pumpkins (or squash) on the same mound.  The corn provides a good pole for the beans to grow up, the beans trap nitrogen in the soil which benefits the pumpkins, and the pumpkins provide a dense foliage and ground cover to suppress weeds and keep pests at bay.

•    Pumpkins work well as a row crop planted in close proximity to sunflowers, also a row crop.

•    Plant healthy nasturtium near squash to help ward off squash vine borers.  (Nasturtium is an easy-to-grow annual whose leaves and flowers are edible.)

•    Use sweet marjoram in your beds and gardens to sweeten the taste of vegetables and herbs. (Marjoram is a rich, sweet tasting herb that is used interchangeably with oregano.)

For a more in-depth planting guide, we suggest this website: