Episode 009: Late Start? Try These 7 Companion Planting Combinations This Summer

episode highlights

  • Discover the power of companion planting and transform your summer garden with these amazing combinations.
  • Get the details about how to attract beneficial insects and keep pests away with these perfect pairing tips.
  • Learn why planting green beans and marigolds, peppers and black-eyed Susans, or tomatoes, basil, and marigolds can help you achieve a thriving summer garden.
  • Follow these summer garden planting tips to ensure regular watering, rich soil, and successful growth of your plants.

Transform Your Summer Garden with Companion Planting: Perfect Pairings and Experienced Tips

Are you ready to elevate your summer garden and create a thriving, vibrant haven? In this post, I’m sharing amazing companion planting combinations that will not only maximize your garden’s potential but also attract beneficial insects and keep pests at bay. I’ll also provide valuable tips on watering and supporting your summer garden plants. So, let’s dive in and transform your garden with the power of companion planting!

1. Green Beans and Marigolds

This combination is perfect for attracting beneficial insects such as ladybugs and parasitic wasps that help control pests like Mexican bean beetles. Both plants can be started from seed, and they can be planted about a foot apart to ensure they don’t compete for resources.

2. Peppers and Black-eyed Susans

These two plants are both heat lovers and grow well together. Peppers and black-eyed Susans can be started from seedlings, and the flowers will attract pollinators to your pepper plants. Plus, both plants are relatively low-maintenance, making them perfect for new gardeners.

3. Nasturtiums and Cucumbers

This pairing, which can be started from seed, is perfect for attracting pollinators and acting as a trap crop for pests. Nasturtiums are known to attract aphids and beetles, keeping them away from your cucumbers and ensuring a bountiful harvest.

4. Tomatoes, Basil, and Marigolds

This trio is perfect for attracting pollinators and enhancing the flavor of your tomatoes. Basil is also known to repel armyworms, a common pest for tomato plants. Start these plants from seedlings and plant them in a way that allows all to receive ample sunlight.

5. Zinnias and Zucchini

Zinnias attract pollinators like honeybees and bumblebees, ensuring successful pollination of your zucchini plants. Both plants can be started from seed and thrive in rich soil with regular water. Be sure to give them enough space to grow, as zucchini can become quite bushy.

6. Sunflowers and Pumpkins

This pairing, which can be started from seed, is perfect for attracting pollinators and providing a stunning visual display in your garden. Both plants love regular water and rich soil, making them an ideal combination for a successful summer garden.

7. Kale and Calendula

This combination is perfect for gardeners with limited sun exposure, as both plants can grow well in partial shade. Kale and calendula can be started from seeds or seedlings and can transition seamlessly from summer to fall gardens. Calendula flowers attract beneficial insects like ladybugs and praying mantises, helping to reduce aphids on your kale plants.

Summer Garden Planting Tips

  • Be sure to water your plants regularly, especially during the hot summer months.
  • When planting, consider the growth rate of each plant to ensure they don’t compete for resources.
  • Rich soil will help your plants grow more quickly and produce a bountiful harvest.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment with different combinations and learn what works best in your garden.

Companion planting is a fantastic way to maximize the potential of your summer garden and create a beautiful, thriving oasis.

By pairing plants that complement each other and attract beneficial insects, you’ll enjoy a more bountiful harvest and a healthier garden overall.

Don’t let a late start hold you back – get out there, plant something, and have fun in your garden this summer!

Episode Transcript

Hello, hello and welcome back to organic gardening for beginners. I am Jessica, your host from the blog Homegrown Food and Flowers, and today I actually have a little bonus episode to throw in for you because I felt like it, because it is summertime and I want to make sure that anybody out there who has not yet started their garden or who’s spring garden has kind of fizzled out and you’re not sure what to do, that you have a plan, because, as you’ve heard me say, i have recently moved. My garden is currently non-existent. I have a bunch of empty raised beds that I need to fill, and some of you might be in the same boat. So I want to share a little bit of what I am doing and give you some awesome companion plant combinations to try out in your kind of last minute summer garden, so that your season is not a wash and you can still get a lot of yield and productivity and fun times in the garden. So this episode is kind of a two-parter, because we’ve got this episode where I am chatting to you all about the plant combinations that I’m going for and that I highly recommend, but there’s also a PDF version that you can get through the show notes. I’ll leave a link for you and that can help kind of jog the memory of the episode and what you might want to try out. There is more information in the show, just because I could only fit so much on the two-pager, so both will come in handy.

You might be wondering why I’m specifically mentioning companion planting, with summer planting Like does it really make a difference? And the answer is no, it doesn’t. You could plant out a whole garden of I don’t know zucchini if you wanted to and get a yield from that. The companion planting isn’t what makes it productive, but it is something that can help you pack in the most amount of plants into your space, which is always what I love to do. Plus, it’s pretty. It brings in the bugs, the good bugs, the birds, all the reasons that you’ve heard me talk about companion planting so far in past episodes, and so that’s part of why I am specifically mentioning companion plant pairings for this episode. If you want to grow just zucchini, go for it. Your neighbors will hate you because you will be leaving them bags of zucchini on their doorstep and they will get inundated. So maybe mix it up just a little bit.

In any case, jokes aside, so one of the really awesome combos that you can try for your summer garden are green beans and marigolds. The reason I like to pair these together is that the marigolds draw in beneficial insects such as ladybugs and parasitic wasps that tend to prey on the pests of green beans, like Mexican bean beetles. Those can be a real pain the beetles, that is, not the ladybugs for your green bean harvest, because the beetles defoliate or take the leaves off of your bean plant. If your plant has no leaves, then it’s not going to really be productive because it can’t photosynthesize efficiently. It is under a lot of stress and so it’s really just trying to survive, not necessarily produce this big harvest. So the marigolds and honestly any flower, but I use marigolds can really help with that. It’s also a good space saver because you can grow pole beans up a trellis vertically and then put the marigolds at the base of the trellis, so you don’t have to dedicate as much bed space to it. But if you’re looking for the earliest bean harvest and or you don’t really need to worry about space, then you can grow bush beans that don’t climb for the same effect. Whether it’s bush beans or pole beans, the combination is the same. You can start both of these from seed, and that’s something I’m mentioning with each of these combinations is whether you can start the from seed or if you should try to find a seedling, and I did match pairings that are both the same so you don’t have to go find one seedling and one seed packet and mix and match that way, so trying to make it as convenient as possible and remove any barrier to getting started. So, in any case, straight from seed, pop your green bean seed and your marigold seed in the same bed, maybe a foot apart, give or take and keep them well watered and they will both grow at a great rate, to not be out competing each other.

Next up are peppers sweet peppers, or hot peppers for that matter, and black-eyed Susan You could use cone flower here at Ganesha is its real name, but I have more experience with black-eyed Susan’s because I just think they’re so pretty. For these ones you will want to start with the seedling. It is too late in the season to get a harvest this year if you start from seed So sweet peppers, hot peppers you might be able to find seedling still I can in my area. It obviously depends a little bit on where you live, but see if you can find any, and then you can put them in the same bed, because they both love heat. They both love sunshine. Black-eyed Susan’s are pretty drought tolerant, peppers less so. Think of a pepper and how much water it has in it. So they do appreciate regular water, but at the very least they are both very compatible on the sun and heat spectrum and how much they like it. They’re also both relatively slow growers, so they won’t smother each other out. It’s not that the peppers are going to grow twice as fast as the black-eyed Susan and shade them out or anything like that, so they make a good pairing. In that regard.

Flowers will draw in pollinators for the pepper plants. The bees and moths surprisingly really loved my black-eyed Susan’s last year. These plants are also a good combination for newer gardeners because they’re kind of hands-off With peppers, unless you have a big pest issue that needs attention, and the same with the black-eyed Susan’s. You plant them and you kind of not forget about them, but they don’t need a lot of attention until they are yielding. Whether that’s cutting fresh flowers from them or harvesting the peppers, they just kind of grow and do their thing. Oh and, as a last note birds are going to love your black-eyed Susan’s seed heads. So when the season is over and the flowers are not producing as much, leave your plant there in the garden over the winter or at the very least through the fall, and you will see finches and other seed-loving birds coming in and eating the tiny little seeds from the black-eyed Susan’s seed heads, and they’re a lot of fun to watch, all right.

Next up, another combination from seed, are nasturtiums and cucumbers. Nasturtiums are so, so easy to grow. The seeds are large, kind of like a pea, and they grow very, very quickly from seed, same as cucumber. Both of these are also vining plants so you can grow them both vertically up a trellis or, if you have the space or lack of a trellis, then just let them sprawl along the ground. The nasturtiums help draw in pollinators, of course, with their beautiful flowers They’re super vibrant. They are red and yellow and orange. There are other varieties that have colors like cream and burgundy, but the most common mixes what you would probably find in the store or the nurseries right now are going to be kind of those bright primary colors.

Nosturtiums are also an amazing trap crop where you plant them next to vegetables or flowers that are more vulnerable to common pests, like thrips or aphids, in the hopes that those bugs go for your nosturtiums and leave your more valuable plants alone. So the nosturtium can draw in aphids, beetles, things like that, and hopefully leave your cucumbers alone, so that you get a good harvest from them. And then, lastly, nosturtiums are very, very prolific self-soars, so once you plant them, chances are you never will have to again. They will produce tons of seeds, drop them in the soil, they’ll overwinter and then sprout when they’re ready to next spring, and so you will most likely have return plants. So keep that in mind, for where you plant them I don’t mind I mean, heck who says no to free flowers? And I just trim them back or transplant them if they’re growing where I don’t want them. But just keep that in mind.

Next up, number four out of seven, are tomatoes, basil and marigolds, and these are other ones or another one, excuse me that you would want to put these in as seedlings. The marigolds, you would probably get away with starting them from seed or, excuse me, direct sowing them, but the tomatoes, just like the peppers, you will definitely need seedlings at this point, because it’s late enough in the season that without it, the tomatoes won’t mature in time before the fall starts to cool off, the days get shorter and potentially you get a frost in your area. This trio of tomato basil, marigold will attract pollinators through the basil flowers and the marigold flowers. Basil is said to enhance tomato flavor. I don’t remember if I found a study for this. I don’t think I have, but interestingly I just learned the other day from a YouTube video that there are some studies showing that planting basil with tomatoes helps repel armyworms, which I thought was cool because I have had issues with armyworms in the past. So I already plant basil with my tomatoes. But this gives me another reason for it. All three love full sun.

When you’re planting them out, think about putting the tomato in the center of your plantings, like if you’re in a container, or towards the edge, because it’s growing to grow much, much taller than the marigold and the basil. You can think of layering the tallest plant in the back so that it doesn’t shade out the other ones, or in the center of the container, and then planting the basil and marigold around it, or scattered along the edge, so that all the plants get the sun that they need. When I say back. What I should say is put the taller plant of any of these combinations towards the back of your flower bed, say. If you’re growing against a fence or your house or garden shed, or if your garden plot is, you know, say, in the middle of your backyard, put it on. Put your taller plants toward the side where the sun rises. So what is that? That’s east. So that way, as the sun comes up and over the garden, the taller plants won’t block the shorter plants.

Next up for a combination from seed are zinnias and zucchini. The zinnias are going to do an amazing job of pulling in pollinators like honeybees and bumblebees to come in and pollinate your zucchinis. Both of the plants thrive on regular water and very rich soil and full sun. The zinnias will probably grow a little bit slower than the zucchini. So even though you’re starting both from seed, give them a little bit of space. I would say about 18 inches from zucchini to zinnia, and then you can put the zinnias six to nine inches apart from each other. So that way you’re giving the zucchini plant room to grow a little bit more quickly and it also just gets very, very bushy and some varieties even start to trail out as they grow, so don’t put these ones too close together. And as these this combination grows, if you notice that the zucchini is starting to encroach on the zinnias, don’t be afraid to cut back some of the leaves. It won’t hurt the plant, it won’t kill it and it will make sure that you get good airflow to prevent fungal disease that zucchini is prone to in the summertime, and it will also prevent it from running over the zinnias plants that are there that you want to keep providing full sun to them so that they perform their best, just like the tomatoes and the basil. For this one, put the zucchini in the middle or towards the back and the zinnias in the front. Alright.

Next up, number six, we’ve got sunflowers and pumpkins. This pairing can also be grown from seed. They are very fast growers and this is kind of the last hurrah for getting pumpkins in so that they mature in time, especially if you want them for Halloween. If you’re just growing them for winter storage, then you’ve got a little more wiggle room, but if you want those classic orange pumpkins for Halloween, then now is your time for that. You can let the pumpkins ramble at the feet of the sunflowers and it will help to shade the soil to keep it cool, and even better, it will help smother out any weeds, because if you’ve never grown pumpkins before or other squash for that matter, the leaves can get really big and form this kind of canopy over the soil, and so when the sunlight can’t hit the soil, then weed seeds can’t germinate and so it’s kind of doing the weeding for you.

Both crops love regular water. Sunflowers need it to support their thicker stems and the height of the plants, especially if you grow mammoth varieties. And pumpkins need it because they need regular water in order to form the fruit. So you can rest easy, water them the same amount and each plant will be happy. Side note, sunflowers have this thing called and I don’t know how to pronounce it I think it’s called a lelopathy. They are a lelopathic, i believe is how you say it, and what that means is the plant, the sunflower plant, can exude a chemical that into the soil that can stunt the growth of other plants. It’s a known thing in the garden world, and somebody let me know recently that they disagreed with me companion planting with sunflowers and I said you know, sure, the science is there showing that sometimes sunflowers can stunt other plants, but I personally have not had that experience. So I put sunflowers all throughout my garden. I have not had problems with it. But if you try it and it doesn’t work, then maybe it doesn’t work in your garden and you know that. Maybe you need a little more space between your sunflowers and your other plants. So just a little in parentheses piece of information.

Last up for this quick list of summer garden plantings are kale and calendula. For these ones you can do seeds or seedling. Depends on what you can find. If you’ve got a seed packet laying around, throw them in the dirt. They’re both gonna grow. If you can find seedlings, do that. It’ll save you a little bit of time.

It’s not the typical nursery season for kale, even though it can grow just fine in the summer. Cullendula you’ll probably have a better chance of finding as a seedling. But you know, look around, call around, see what you can find. And this pairing I like because it can grow in the shade, if well, partial shade if you’re, if your full sun area is already full of plants or you only have a partially shaded yard, then this planting will work very well for you. And it’s also a good pair to take into your fall garden because they can handle colder temperatures, especially kale. Kale can get snowed on and it will keep going. It actually improves the flavor because the energy that they have in their leaves it converts it into sugar to get it through that frost, and so it tastes sweeter when you eat it, which I think is pretty cool. Colendulas won’t last all winter, but they can make it through a light frost, and so these are a nice transition pairing from your summer garden into the fall. And then, as the last thing, the Colendula flowers are super attractive to beneficials like ladybugs and praying mantises and other insects, and so it can help keep aphids off of your kale plants. I always have trouble with aphids on my kale, but when I interplant kale with flowers, whether Colendula or a different one, it definitely helps reduce the presence of those aphids.

So, to wrap it all up, we’ve got our combinations. You know if you need to start them from seed or try to find a seedling. Make sure that you are watering regularly as you’re planting in the summertime, because things are going to dry out more quickly than they would in the spring, unless you are getting summer rainstorms. Try to make sure you’re pairing. If you’re trying other combinations, think about if they grow at around the same rate and whether you should start them both from seed or a seedling, and a seed. Rich dirt is always going to help things grow more quickly, especially in this time where you’re trying to get them to mature before the end of the summer And then just try it. If you try a pairing or even just one thing and it doesn’t grow, oh well, there’s always next year and you gave it a shot.

And so this has been a theme in several of my episodes now because, as I’ve mentioned, this is me. I’m putting in a summer garden when normally I have my spring planting and everything is maturing at this point and I’m cutting bouquets and I’m harvesting tomatoes, and that is not the case for me this year with the move. But I have a whole flat full of seedlings that I managed to find at the local grocery store of all places, and I have also started a bunch of stuff from seed. So I am not letting the late start slow me down at all And I’m getting my summer garden going and thinking about my full garden already. If you want these details in written form, make sure you check out the show notes. I’ll have the link to get the PDF form that you can sign up for to get your garden going. And, as always, don’t forget to subscribe after this little bonus episode and get out there, plant something and just have fun, because the garden is the place to be. See you next week.

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