“It is better to travel alone than with a bad companion”
~ African Proverb
Gardening can be as simple or as complex as we chose to make it and the results will echo our intentions. An inclination to grow a few things will result in exactly that, a few things coming up. A desire to grow food will involve a bit more planning, time and effort to consider which items to grow and how best to grow them. A serious intention to grow as much food as possible within the space available on a continual basis will require careful planning, including crop rotations (which I discussed in a previous post), companion planting considerations (which I will discuss here) and strategic succession plantings to create a rolling harvest.
Plants are a bit like dinner guests, there are some that seated side by side will find great pleasure in the symbiotic company and will make new friends while others that if placed in close proximity will antagonize each other. This is mostly related to nutrient and root/leaf space needs of different plant families but can also due to how some plants interact with their proximity (ex: alliums exude a chemical that inhibits the growth in legumes).
You don’t have to hit the botany books to steer clear of the antagonistic relationships or deduce which plants would make good companions – there are plenty of companion planting charts available online ranging from the very simple to the very complex. A little planning will increase your plants happiness and your harvest. Or you could just wing it 😉