Growing Tomatoes Better with Companion Plants

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Deciding which plants will help growing tomatoes better in the garden offers a lot of options.

Companion planting is part art, part science and folklore. Gardeners with companion plantings report increased harvests; better overall growth, flavor and reduced garden pests. Plus, with today’s smaller gardens, it’s an excellent way to maximize garden space.

Some plants, particularly herbs, act as pest repellents. They confuse insects with strong odors that mask the scent of the intended victim plant.

1. Easy to grow companion plants for tomatoes

Consider easy to grow companion plants such as: Asparagus, Basil, Borage, Carrots, Chives, Dill, Lettuce, Marigolds, Nasturtium, Onions, Parsley, Radishes, Spinach or Thyme.

• Asparagus produces a chemical known to kill nematodes (pests that play havoc with plant roots)

• Basil repels whiteflies, mosquitoes, spider mites, aphids and hornworms, improves pollination by attracting bees

• Borage repels tomato hornworms and cabbageworms

• Carrot roots break up the soil around tomatoes, allowing in more nutrients, air, and water

• Chives repel aphids

• Dill protects from hornworms, attracts garden heroes; praying mantises, ladybugs and spiders that eat insect pests

• Lettuce good space saver, leaves ready to be harvested soon after tomatoes are planted

• Marigolds repel beetles, nematodes and animal pests

• Nasturtium deters aphids, whiteflies, squash bugs, beetles, wards off fungal diseases

• Onions keep pests away

• Parsley attracts hoverflies and other garden heroes; praying mantises, ladybugs and spiders that eat insect pests

• Radishes can be used as an early harvest crop between tomatoes

• Spinach is a good space saver, leaves are ready to be harvested soon after tomatoes are planted

• Thyme enhances tomato flavor, also a good pest repellent

2. Additional Tips for Your Tomato Garden

Much of companion planting is common garden sense: Lettuce, radishes and other quick-growing plants sown between tomatoes will mature and be harvested long before the tomato vines need more leg room.

Other beneficial companions include: foxglove, garlic, lavender and lemon balm.

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