Designing Your Vegetable Garden – What Goes Where?

Designing a vegetable garden is a fun and rewarding project that can provide fresh produce all season long. However, there are many things to consider when designing a vegetable garden. For starters, you’ll want to plan where it will be placed and whether you will use a raised-bed or sunken-bed garden. You must also consider factors such as soil quality, drainage, sun exposure, protection from the wind, and water accessibility to ensure a healthy crop. 

Did you know it’s also important to consider what vegetables should be planted next to each other? Planting certain combinations of vegetables in proximity to each other to make them more productive is called companion planting. The right combinations can deter pests, improve flavor, and increase plant productivity. Here are a few of the most popular varieties planted in the US. 

Tomatoes

One of the most well-known vegetable garden combinations is tomatoes and basil. Tomatoes and basil are members of the nightshade family and, as a result, grow well together. The tomatoes will help to pollinate the basil, and the basil will help the tomato produce more while repelling pests. They also enhance each other’s flavors: tomatoes will add a sweetness to the basil, and conversely, the basil will add a bit of spice to the tomatoes. On the other hand, corn and potatoes are affected by the same diseases as tomatoes, so you should avoid planting them together.

Carrots 

Most crops can be planted with carrots, but they go incredibly well with tomatoes. Since carrots do well in cool places, the tomato plant’s luscious leaves provide a protective covering that shields it from direct sunlight. Tomatoes can also produce a natural insecticide that can help protect the carrots. You may also try pairing chives to improve the flavor of the carrots or rosemary to deter flies.

Lettuce

Since carrots grow deep into the soil and lettuce does not, they coexist exceptionally well. This is because carrots are a root crop, while lettuce plants have shallow roots and grow mainly above ground. Planting these together also maximizes the space you have in your garden. Planting a row of carrots between each row of lettuce will also add to your aesthetic when designing your vegetable garden. Both carrots and lettuce do best in loose, well-drained soil, so you may want to use a chisel plow or disc harrow if the ground is especially hard or compact. You’ll also want to keep parsley away from lettuce since the parsley will become bushy and may crowd it. 

Cucumbers

Our last recommendation when designing your vegetable garden is to pair corn and cucumbers. The corn stalks will provide the cucumbers with the shade they need, and the corn will benefit from enhanced water retention and pest prevention. As long as the cucumber is a small variety, the corn stalks will act as an excellent natural trellis for vining cucumbers. If the cucumber grows too big and heavy, it can pull the stalk down. You might also try pairing cucumbers with dill since it attracts pollinators while repelling pests. 

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