When you set a tomato plant in the dirt, gently tamp down the soil around its roots, and water it in, you expect to get a bumper crop of juicy, delicious red fruits. In her classic book on companion planting, Louise Riotte has taught generations of gardeners how to use the natural benefits of plants to protect and support each other.
For a gardener, Carrots Love Tomatoes is so much fun to read. I have read it several times and always learn something new.
Here are some sound (tried and true) tips on what to plant near your tomatoes for better a crop and less pests all around:
Chives, Onions, and Garlic~ Members of the onion family are beneficial to plant with many types of crops due to the pungent odor they emit. This helps deter many insect pests.
Peppers (sweet and hot) are in the same family (nightshade) as tomatoes and are compatible.
Borage helps deter tomato hornworm.
Marigold help deter harmful nematodes from attacking tomatoes. The pungent odor can also help confuse other insect pests. To deter nematodes, the best practice is to grow the marigolds, then chop and till them into the soil at the end of the season.
Nasturtium help deter white fly and aphids.
Carrots work well with tomatoes because they share space well. The carrots can be planted when the tomatoes are still quite small, and can be happily growing and ready to harvest by the time the tomato plants start to take over the space.
Basil: Growing tomatoes and basil together increases the vigor and flavor of both crops.
Spinach, Lettuce, Arugula: These are also helpful crops for tomatoes. They stay fairly small, and will grow better in the heat of summer when shaded by the growing tomato plants. Although I have not read it anywhere until recently, I always have had good success planting lettuce (Romaine, particularly) in the shade at the side of tomatoes as seen below. Both seem to benefit nicely.
What Not to Plant with Tomatoes:
The following crops should not be planted with tomatoes:
- Brassicas: Tomatoes and all members of the brassicas family repel each other and will exhibit poor growth when planted together. This includes broccoli and cabbages.
- Corn: Tomato fruit worm and corn ear worm are nearly identical, and planting these two crops together increases the possibility that you will attract one (or both) of these pests.
- Fennel: Fennel inhibits the growth of tomatoes (and many other things, too).
- Kohlrabi: Kohlrabi inhibits the growth of tomatoes.
- Potatoes: Planting tomatoes and potatoes together makes potatoes more susceptible to potato blight.
Plant in same place or a new place?? Wilt disease and blossom end rot?? Smokers warning.
On page 26 of Mrs. Riotte’s book, it says,”Unlike most other vegetables, tomatoes prefer to grow in the same place year after year. This is all right unless you have a disease problem, in which case plant in a new area. Since they are heavy feeders, give them ample quantities of compost or decomposed manure. Mulch and water in dry weather to maintain soil moisture and stave off wilt disease and blossom end rot. But never water tomatoes from the top. Water from below and water deeply. If you smoke,wash your hands thoroughly since tomatoes are susceptible to diseases transmitted through tobacco.”
This is a page from the book that gave me lots of ideas for approximately how far to space things that were and were not compatible. Such a wonderful potager (garden); I can just imagine walking through it in my mind 🙂
There are so many wonderful heirloom varieties to try and a taste to suit every palate. I hope you find this helpful in growing the best tomatoes ever. And every year you will get better and better at it. Have fun as a family and grow your own tomatoes. Store-bought can never compare to one you grow yourself!
Thanks for reading!