The idea of companion planting is rather strange. It is easy to think of people and animals as social beings. They have relationships that are either beneficial or harmful. On the other hand, plants don’t move and they can’t communicate. However, plants do have relationships, too, in a way. They can help one another or cause each other harm.
What is companion planting?
Companion planting is growing different crops near one another so that they can help each other grow, keep pests away, and attract beneficial insects that assist in pollination. It is one of the ways by which you can protect your plants from its natural enemies without using chemical pesticides. However, some plants can hurt other plants, so you must know which plants grow well together and which plants you should keep apart.
Dead nettle may be a weed to some, but it can be a friend to potatoes. It can improve flavor, enhance growth, and keep harmful insects away. Another plant that protects potatoes is sage, which keeps flea beetles at bay. If you want to protect your potatoes from the Colorado potato beetle, plant them near nasturtium, coriander, tansy, or catnip.
Green beans can also repel the Colorado potato beetle. They don’t compete with potatoes for nutrients. On the contrary, they enrich the soil with nitrogen, which enhances the growth of potatoes and keeps them strong. Potatoes return the favor by protecting green beans from the Mexican beetle.
Want your potatoes to taste better? Plant them with cabbage, corn, and beans. They also help them grow better. You can also grow some horseradish on the corners of your potato garden patch. Horseradish makes potatoes more resistant to diseases and enhances their flavor, too. Other plants that you can grow with potatoes are scallions, lettuce, and spinach.
Marigold is a favorite companion plant because it produces natural pesticides. The soil that surrounds a marigold plant can kill nematodes upon contact. It also protects potatoes from viral and bacterial infections. However, marigold isn’t the only flower that can help potatoes.
Alyssum can serve as living mulch for your potatoes and attract predatory wasps that eat harmful insects. Petunias help protect your potatoes from leaf hoppers. If you want to attract insects that feed on harmful bugs, plant some yarrow, parsley, and basil; their flowers attract the beneficial insects. You can also try planting some petunias and amaranth near potatoes.
Bad Neighbors for Potatoes
While there are plants that help potatoes grow, there are also plants that could possibly harm them. Raspberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, and pumpkins all seem to make potatoes more susceptible to blight. Never plant potatoes in a soil that has been planted with tomatoes, eggplant, and other nightshade vegetables in the last two years. Other plants that you should not plant with potatoes are carrots, asparagus, fennel, atriplex, turnip, onions, and sunflowers.
Companion planting is useful in organic farming. It helps you improve the growth of your potatoes, protect them from their natural enemies, and enhance their flavor without having to use chemical fertilizers and pesticides. However, to make it work, you should know which plants are friends of your potatoes and which ones are foes.