There’s simply nothing better than getting fresh produce straight from the source. You crave that summery taste and the assurance that you're getting such a nutrient-dense food. It’s why you’ll wake up early and brave the hordes trying to find parking near your local farmers market. For those that truly love fresh vegetables, gardening at home is a must. Not only can you grow some outstanding, high-quality produce for your consumption, but you'll gain that sense of pride associated with all gardening. Raising vegetables is rewarding, but can be difficult, too. There’s nothing more frustrating than losing out on a beautiful crop of peppers or tomatoes because of pests or tough growing conditions. By pairing your planters with some garden helpers, you can ensure that your vegetables make it to a ripe, old age. If you’re going to invest the time and effort and garden, you want to maximize the productivity of your plants. These 12 pairing tips will keep you and your produce happy.
The cabbage family will always be a hearty option that adds roughage to your diet. Growing your own salad greens is an awesome way to save some cash. But you definitely have to keep cabbage safe from the elements. There's a bunch of different herbs you can use as allies for your cabbage. Rosemary and sage deter cabbage moth, while mint keeps ants away as well. Dill will improve the growth and health of the plant. All of these options improve flavor too. If you were going to grow herbs anyway, you might as well take advantage of these benefits.
Is there anything better than feasting on a hot cob of corn fresh from the grill? It’s the ultimate summer food. As you shuck the exterior layers from the golden goodness, you can’t help but get excited thinking about the upcoming meal. Even better than picking up a few pounds of the good stuff from the grocery store is growing your own. Adding some odorless marigold, white geranium, or pigweed alongside your stalks will help them mature. The first two pairings reduce Japanese beetle populations. Pigweed helps raise the nutrients from the subsoil to make them more accessible.
Onions are probably the most useful vegetable ever. It seems like every dish you cook involves onions at some phase. Their savory flavor adds to many foods, so they work as a natural pairing alongside bell peppers, red meat, and tomato sauce. It makes sense to grow these suckers at home since you’ll likely be running through them constantly. If onions’ best attribute is their pronounced, universal flavor, then why not enhance that? Chamomile is a great companion for growing onions, because it improves both growth and flavor. After all, you want a delicious end product.
Squash is a great team player since it's one of the most versatile vegetables. Squash works well in an autumn soup or as part of a homemade ratatouille. The gourd-like vegetable is also pretty fastidious compared with, let’s say, tomatoes. Plus, thanks to several different varieties (summer, spaghetti), you can grow what you need to suit your taste. Obviously, these garden pairings are based on gaining some sort of functional advantage, but what if you could have three? Borage not only deters worms from hijacking your squash, but it also improves growth and flavor. This is a winning combo for gourd lovers.
Tomatoes are one of gardening’s great problem children. The succulent red fruit is (almost) universally adored... not just by humans, but by every creature. It can feel like a marathon just getting this delicious produce to harvest maturity. Everything under the sun is going to come hunting for your tomatoes. Once you seal off the garden from larger predators (i.e. cute bunnies), you still have to worry about smaller pests. Basil comes to the rescue. This herb not only repels flies and mosquitoes, but it improves growth and flavor as well. Plus, it’s a natural pairing in the kitchen, too.
While they may draw the ire of many a child held hostage at the dinner table, peas actually have a great flavor and texture, too. Your refined pallet will definitely appreciate these starchy vegetables. Packed with protein and fiber, they’re a great addition to many dishes and diets alike. Keep them in the pod or turn them loose based on your personal preference (and the preference of your recipe). Keeping your peas healthy isn’t tough. Chives work to deter aphids, while mint improves the health and flavor of this vegetable. While garlic and onion make nice pea companions in the kitchen, they will stunt the growth of your green guys outside.
Ah melons: the soundtrack to summer in food form. Large and in charge, melons offer tantalizing flavor in a big package. When you’re having a get-together, melons create the perfect food for sharing. Is there anything better than sitting in a comfortable chair, watching the sunset, and seeing how far you can spit seeds into the back yard? Melons are so good that everyone seems to want a piece of the action. That includes bugs and beetles. These pests can burrow inside your fruit and steal your sunshine. Nasturtium comes to the rescue by booting these baddies out of the garden. Call it the savior of summer.
Beets had it rough for so very long. No one appreciated their pink color or the flavor or texture of these root vegetables. If peas were underappreciated by children at the dinner table, beets were treated like Sunday formal clothes. No one was interested. But low and behold, the benefits of beets have come to light — nitrates can do wonders for blood pressure. The nutrient-dense properties of beets should come as no surprise given their color, and if you want to grow your own, consider garlic as a pairing. Garlic improves the growth and flavor of beets, the latter being most important to those who still don’t have an appetite for these nutritious vegetables.
Beans may be dubbed “the magical fruit” by grade schoolers everywhere, but they're pretty much unappreciated until people get older. Beans are a great source of protein and add bulk without much fat. You can add them to tons of different recipes. It's only right that they get a good garden companion to help them grow to maturity. Summer Savory deters bean beetles, improves growth, and enhances flavor. That’s a magical trifecta.
Bugs Bunny eats them raw, but carrots are also incredible as one-third of a mirepoix. This French base serves as a building block for any number of delicious, savory dishes. The carrot’s own solo work is pretty impressive as well. It would be smart to grow some of these bad boys for your own convenience. With just a little seasoning, even a super simple cooking method like roasting can totally bring carrots to life. But what sort of herb or spice should be added to this root vegetable? How about rosemary, as you’ll already be using it as a growing companion. The floral herb helps to keep carrot fly away, ensuring the health and safety of your vitamin A-rich vegetable.
Not often the first draft pick of veggie franchises, celery can be totally forgotten. But this stalky plant comes packed with all kinds of fiber, plus it’s great as a stand-alone snack. It’s otherworldly when combined with carrots and onions. The work day can be a slog. Having healthy snacks on board improves your energy and reduces dietary guilt. Celery is a great option for midday chowing. If you’re going to grow your own, consider teaming the vegetable up with nasturtium, which deters both bugs and aphids. Watching a crop succumb to the activities of pests is incredibly frustrating. Nasturtium will help keep them away.
Potatoes are perhaps the most flexible veggie that you could grow. Loaded with starch, they help add some bulk to your meal. You love your potatoes and you want to keep them safe. Don’t worry, horseradish is here. You’ve seen movies where a tactical team is storming an office building or fortress. Loaded up with action gear, the squad moves in on a target, and then a guy — usually the leader — says “set up a perimeter!” Consider horseradish your SWAT commander. By planting this potent root at the corners of your potato patch, you’ll ensure that your tubers stay protected. Horseradish is great because it takes on all comers and keeps them out of your precious crops.