Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Importance of Companion Planting... and paying attention to it.

One of the things that I love to do, as a gardener, is read.  I know, you expected me to say something like: dig in the dirt, or pull weeds, right?  Sure I love digging, and I weed because I have to, but there's so much knowledge out there, and I just want to learn it all!!!  It makes me a better gardener.  I know that I have a lot of room for improvement.  Each year we grow and expand the garden, and we try new things.

I know about companion planting, I really do.  I know about it...  but I can't say that I've paid much attention to it up til now.  Probably because last year everything was in containers, so I didn't have to worry about what was planted where. 

This year, I have raised garden beds.  Five, to be exact, and then a heck of a lot of containers.  I wish I had acres and acres of beds, but alas, I live in suburbia.  That's a dream for another day.  I have two beds that have beans in them.  One bed thrives, the other bed struggles. 

Seriously, have a look. 

Here are my healthy beans:
 They're lush, they are beautiful!  They have a healthy bright green color, there are flowers, and beans all over them.  (Yes, one has a marigold growing out of it, but that's just an extra bug fighting mechanism...ha ha).
So let's have a look at these other beans.  They are smaller, they don't have flowers, they are yellow!  There are a few beans, but they are misshapen and yellow as well.  The leaves are shriveling up and falling off for crying out loud!

I couldn't figure it out at first, until I started thinking about the two beds. 

The healthy beans were planted in a bed by themselves.  Just beans.  The struggling beans were planted next to onions.  That garden bed was split in half.  Onions on one side, beans on the other. 

Hmmm.... companion planting, I thought.  There are things that compliment each other, like in a Three Sisters Garden.  Are there things that are detrimental to each other when planted together? 

The short answer is Yes.  Yes there are. 

The long answer goes more like this: 
(Compliments of:

"Plants release varying amounts of compounds, such as nitrogen and potassium, which can stunt the growth of other plants by altering the pH level of the soil. While cucumbers thrive when planted near bush beans, lettuce and radishes, they choke when planted near potatoes. Beans, beets, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, corn, cucumbers and strawberries make good neighbors -- as long as you plant the onions, garlic, leeks and shallots elsewhere. Peppers do well with carrots, eggplant, onions, parsley and tomatoes, but do not plant kohlrabi anywhere near them. Keep lettuce away from cabbage and keep onions away from asparagus, beans and peas. Spinach gets along with everyone."

This season's major mistake #2 - - don't plant the onions with the beans.  What was major mistake #1, you ask?  Oh, that was the first attempt at making beds in the yard - before The Guy went and bought the rototiller.  I'd still be digging if we stayed with that method.  Missed the post on Grave Digging in the Burbs?  It's here.

There's a happy ending to this sad bean story.  I dug them up.  Yes I did.  I dug up all 20 of those sad, sorry bean plants and I moved them.  The next morning, they still looked about the same.  No shock wilt, no dead plants, so I guess I did an OK job at getting under the roots.  As of yet, they haven't changed color, but I'm hoping that they will grow new leaves that come in healthy and happy. 

More to come on that. 
The moral of the story is: research.  Before you plant.
Green Thumb Out.


  1. As of today, June 21, these plants are producing beans. Yay!!!

  2. This is very's actually a nice true-life experiment. I am getting better about figuring out companion planting, but it's hard when (like you) I have limited space and beds. I was very close to planting beans by my onions and then read that they don't get along, so I put my beans in straw bales instead. Even though I feel sad for you that you got sickly beans, I thank you for showing me that it was probably a good choice for me to keep them separated! :)

    1. It's a learning experience every year. Just when you think you've got the hang of it, Mother Nature throws me another curve ball... I'm glad it helped out though, because I have learned SO much from following bloggers...

  3. This is very interesting, because I almost planted beans next to onions! At the last minute I checked the companion chart and decided against it. I guess I made a good choice!


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