Senior Member
Posts: 108
Joined: Wed Jul 31, 2013 10:00 pm
Location: West Virginia (Zone 6)

Agressive Companion Planting Strategy

I have a question for you experienced growers. I try my best to time my plantings to grow as much as I can without disrupting the garden environment.

Here is a rough idea of one of my planting strategies for this coming season. I have attached a 10' x 10' section of my garden. In this picture you will see that I have 4 10 foot rows of tomatoes. In between the rows I have radishes. Although I might do carrots because by the time I put the tomatoes out the carrots should be well on their way. Thoughts?

Also in the two far east corners I have watermelons. I am hoping that if they are good companions by the time the tomatoes are taking off nicely, the watermelon runner vines will just start reaching them and not interfere with the tomatoes. However, if I do carrots, I fear they may take them over too much. If I do radishes, they will be harvested by then.

Sound like a good idea?

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Super Green Thumb
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Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Re: Agressive Companion PLanting Stratagy

ummm.... I'm not seeing any attachment :?:

Part of what you are talking about is more like succession planting than companion planting. Succession planting is one after the other (even if they overlap a bit). Companion planting is planting things next to each other at the same time.

Carrots and tomatoes are kind of both. The carrot seeds get planted much earlier than the tomato transplants go in the ground. But carrots take a long time, so they will still be growing for a good while after the tomatoes are planted. But they work well together ("Carrots Love Tomatoes" is the title of a well known companion planting book). So I usually plant a row of carrot seed down the outside edges of beds that tomatoes will be planted in later.

In between rows of tomatoes, will be a very shady spot once the tomato plants are getting big. And you need to be able to get to your tomato plants to harvest and tend, so you don't want to fill the space too much. Four rows of tomatoes in ten feet is fairly close spacing. Once the tomatoes are going well, there's not going to be much in between. That's why I just put the carrots on the outside edges, where they can still get some sun. But if you really want to put something in there, think about lettuce, spinach, etc. They get planted early and done quickly, so they will be out of the way sooner. When the weather has warmed up, the lettuce will benefit from the shade and maybe be a bit slower to bolt.

You have watermelons in the same 10 by 10 as all this? I don't think so. Have you grown watermelons before? The plants are huge and voracious consumers of nutrients and water. I think the only way that will work is if there is lawn around your 10x10, so that the watermelons can grow OUT of the bed across the lawn, not into the bed. And even so, you will have to work really hard at keeping everything, fed, watered, mulched, etc to make up for what the watermelon uses. And yes, if you have carrots there, the watermelons will just completely overtake them.

Another succession planting I use if I don't have carrots on the outside edges is to plant broccoli there. I start my broccoli from seed indoors, very early and plant it in the ground a month BEFORE my average last frost date (broccoli is very cold hardy and frost tolerant once hardened off). Then once all danger of frost is past, I plant tomatoes behind them. By the time the tomato plants are getting big, the broccoli is about done and can be pulled.

Best Wishes!!!
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Senior Member
Posts: 108
Joined: Wed Jul 31, 2013 10:00 pm
Location: West Virginia (Zone 6)

Re: Agressive Companion PLanting Stratagy

I have attached the file plus a pic from last year of a part of the same section with the watermelons. As long as they wouldn't interfere with the growth of the tomatoes, I don't care where the watermelons roam. I do keep my tomatoes suckered and I try to plant things as close as possible without causing problems.

My beds are 10x22, 9x14 and 2.5x20. The 2.5x20 is pictured below with tomatoes f early season last year. I also have included a pic of the 9x14 bed which gets afternoon shade starting late May from my neighbors tree. I successfully grew spinach, carrots, peas, lettuce, and volunteer tomatoes there last year. It is facing east so it gets morning and afternoon sun until the tree comes into play late spring. I figured using this space again for similar crops and early season crops. Doing Collards and Kale this year as well as a new thing.

I don't know yet what variety of tomato I am growing. In search of a good determinate for sauce with deep rich flavor a a natural sweetness and low acidity...and heavy yields. The Celebs grew well last year. Sauce was decent, but in search of something more complex. I did side dress my tomatoes early on with my own mix of spent coffee and tea mixed with pulverized dried eggshells. Seem to be of benefit IMO.
2.5x20bed.JPG (34.42 KiB) Viewed 757 times
2.5x9 bed
2.5x9 bed
smallgardenbed.JPG (58.5 KiB) Viewed 757 times
small section of watermelon plot.
small section of watermelon plot.
watermelon1.JPG (65.79 KiB) Viewed 757 times
table 1
table 1
Tomato2015.JPG (20.78 KiB) Viewed 689 times

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Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Agressive Companion Planting Strategy

I plant companions differently. Most of them are integrated into the landscape and not necessarily part of the veggie garden. Basil and tomatoes are companions. Young dill will help tomatoes but are a liability once they bloom so I plant them more than 10 ft away from the tomatoes. They will still trap aphids and attract beneficial insects without stunting the tomatoes when they bloom. Fennel does the same thing to most plants, it doesn't even like to be near its' relatives dill or coriander, so I have it off by itself among plants it does not bother and it still protects the garden 50 ft away.

Nasturtiums, marigolds, sunflowers are planted here and there wherever there is room. They attract bees. Nasturtiums and marigolds are trap plants so you need to be careful what is planted near them. Nasturtium should be kept away from most of the alliums and beans because they attract the same kind of aphid. I plant marigolds in places where I have known nematode problems and they attract both beneficial insects and are a trap plant for nematodes and aphids.

Most of the herbs are protective because they are so aromatic. I plant garlic, chives, and onions under peppers and roses to hide them from bugs and except for corn, I don't mass plant anything. I mix up beets and greens, one grows up, the other down. I plant smaller plants between the peppers to give the peppers more air space above and because pests like nothing better than for you to plant a row of lettuce or cabbage or tomatoes for them to go from plant to plant to plant.

I have some veggies tucked in between my landscape plants because they would take up too much space in the veggie garden, and I have three tubs and a trellis outside the garden that I usually plant the tomatoes on. Right now, two of the tubs have tomatoes and one has jicama, but I can also plant beans or snow peas in those tubs instead. Beans are a good rotation crop for corn and tomatoes which are heavy feeders and except for the nematodes they have different pests so it reduces the pest pressure to switch off once in a while.

Companions do not have to be right next to the plant to benefit. I grow many nectar plants in my front yard that attracts bees and beneficial predators and they stick around because they have a constant food source in alyssum, cuphea, blue daze and lavender.

On the down side, there are a few plants I really should not have around. Jasmine, gardenia, orchids, plumeria, and ornamental ginger are thrip magnets. The hibiscus is my sentry plant since it is always the first one to get white flies and it is one of the plants I still use systemics on because there is no other way to control the erineum mites. I have them around because I like them too much to get rid of them so I live with the damage since thrips in the long run are better controlled by their predators and I don't want to get on the pesticide treadmill or have to eat it either. Corn will attract the purple lady bugs and they will control the white flies and they are only a problem two years at a time. In the meantime, I just cut the hibiscus down when it gets heavily infested. I did actually get rid of my poinsettia, the other white fly magnet. That one, I don't really miss.

I have only seen aphids on my citrus trees and nothing else. I take care of the citrus aphids with water and ant bait.
I have been lucky as only one cabbage butterfly came sniffing around my broccoli and kale last year and I dispatched that one and so far my kale and broccoli have not attracted any more.

The geckos are controlling most of the smaller insects and pouncing on any earthworms I dig up, and the birds must be doing something besides eating all of my papaya, strawberries, peppers, and picking seeds out of the pots. I knowhe cattle egrets swoop in shortly after I weed whack to look for any geckos, mice (I haven't seen any for a while), or insects that are uncovered after I weed whack.

I think it is better to consider the entire landscape as an ecosystem and the veggie garden is just a small part of it. There needs to be places for predators to live, beehives, bat houses, shrubs, and good vent shields to keep them out of the attic. There should be a diverse variety of plants that produces nectar, pollen, water, on a long term basis for them to stick around. Thinking outside of the row has worked for me. I make better use of my space and I confuse the bugs by not providing them easy access to the buffet line.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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