Leeks are one of our favorite vegetables to grow in our backyard garden. We’ve found that usually once they are established, they are a leave it and forget it crop that needs very little assistance. This guide dives into the world of companion planting leeks and how to increase the health of your leeks and other crops by intentionally placing your plants together. Companion planting keeks not only fosters the well-being of leeks but also bolsters the growth of neighboring greens.
Companion planting is the practice of planting different crops together to benfit both crops. There are many ways that symbiotic relationship between plants can benefit both plants including helping deter unwanted guests, making nutrients available, and even shading certains crops or preventing weeds.
Here at the Backyard Farming Connection, we’ve been passionate garden experimenters for over a decade. Leeks thrive harmoniously in our New Hampshire soil, making them a garden favorite. Below, we’ll share the everything we’ve learned on the subject of companion planting leeks.
For a condensed overview of some of the best companion plants, consult this COMPANION PLANTING CHART.
What is Companion Planting
Companion planting is a gardening technique where specific plants are grown together to enhance each other’s growth, repel pests, and improve overall productivity. By strategically pairing compatible plants, gardeners can create a natural ecosystem that benefits all the plants involved, reducing the need for chemical pesticides and fostering a healthier, more abundant garden.
This practice takes advantage of the symbiotic relationships between certain plants, promoting harmony and balance within the garden environment.
Companion Planting Leeks
To many gardeners, leeks symbolize the dawn of the growing season, since they are one of the first plants to grow in the early spring garden When thoughtfully positioned, leeks not only nurture the growth of fellow greenery but also stand guard against certain pests.
This article will explore companion planting leeks and the symbiotic relationships they share with other plants.
The Perks of Leek Companion Plants
Leeks, with their unique disposition, are not only delicious, but also valuable allies in the garden ecosystem. Companion planting leeks offers several key benefits:
Beneficial Insect Attraction: Leeks release a gentle fragrance and feature delicate flowers that beckon a variety of beneficial insects. These insects, in turn, act as natural predators, diminishing the presence of common garden pests. By fostering these beneficial partnerships, leeks indirectly reduce the need for chemical interventions.
Pest Deterrence: While we savor leeks, certain pests find them unappetizing. Gardeners have noticed reduced issues with pests such as aphids when leeks are planted nearby. This natural deterrent shields neighboring plants, minimizing damage and nurturing robust growth.
Living Ground Cover: Beyond their pest-repelling qualities, leeks offer an additional concealed advantage. Their erect growth forms a subtle canopy and can minimize unwanted weeds. Leeks also contribute to soil enrichment as their leaves decompose. This green canopy and enrichment aspect are attributes to consider when companion planting with leeks.
Soil Enrichment: Leeks boast deep-reaching roots, tapping into nutrients from deeper soil layers that often go untouched by other plants. As leek leaves fall and decompose, they recycle these nutrients, benefiting surrounding vegetation. For this reason, there is a benefit to leaving the top leaves in the garden when you harvest.
Best Leek Companion Plants
Below are some of the different crops that act as leek companion plants and should be planted alongside leeks.
KALE: Leeks and kale are a dynamic duo, offering both culinary and gardening benefits. Leeks provide shade for kale, shielding it from the harsh sun, while kale’s deep-rooted nature aids in soil aeration and nutrient absorption. This is our favorite combination of crops to grow with leeks.
SPINACH: The tender leaves of spinach thrive under the shelter of leek foliage, remaining crisp and vibrant during hot spells. In return, spinach acts as a natural ground cover, suppressing weed growth around leeks.
GARLIC: Leeks and garlic share a symbiotic relationship, with leeks deterring aphids that can trouble garlic crops. Garlic, with its pungent aroma, aids in repelling pests that might affect leeks.
MARIGOLDS: Marigolds not only lend a burst of color to the garden but also emit a strong scent that deters common garden pests. Planting marigolds alongside leeks can safeguard them from unwanted intruders. Marigolds are a companion planting powerhouse and are one of the best plants to spread throughout your garden.
BEETS: Both leeks and beets belong to the Alliaceae family, making them excellent companions. These plants can be interplanted to maximize garden space and deter pests that affect this plant family.
Bad Companion Plants for Leeks
Just as some plants flourish beside leeks, others may not coexist harmoniously within close quarters. These dynamics can result from factors such as competition for nutrients or chemical incompatibilities. Knowing which plants to keep at arm’s length from your leek patch can significantly impact the overall health and productivity of your garden.
POTATOES: While potatoes are garden staples, they are not the most harmonious companions for leeks. Both plants have high nutrient demands, potentially leading to competition and diminished growth for both.
BRASSICAS: Members of the Brassica family, including cauliflower and broccoli, are generally not recommended as close neighbors for leeks. Competition for nutrients or potential soil pH clashes can hinder their mutual growth.
BEANS: Beans, while beneficial in some companion plantings, may not be ideal companions for leeks. They can vie for nutrients and potentially impede leek growth.
TOMATOES: Tomatoes, like leeks, are nutrient-hungry, and their close proximity could result in nutrient competition. Moreover, leek leaves, which can be toxic, should not come into direct contact with tomato fruits.
These are general guidelines, but since most of the knowledge of companion planting comes from trial and error and anecdotal information, the best way to gain more knowledge is to simply try some of these combination above and see how it works in your garden.
How to Use Companion Planting for Garden Planning
Once you’ve identified the best companions for leeks, it’s time to apply this knowledge to plan your garden each year.
Garden planning with companion planting involves careful consideration of plant compatibility, growth habits, and pest management strategies. Begin by selecting a list of crops you intend to grow and then research their ideal companions and potential antagonists.
You might consider employing techniques such as interplanting, where compatible crops are grown in close proximity, or creating beneficial plant groupings.
Before you get too deep into companion planting, I also recommend you take a deeper look at the health of your soil. Creating healthy soil is the first step in creating strong crops that can overcome pests and other challenges. The best way to do this is to get your soil tested at your local cooperative extension office. You can get some good recommendation for improving soil health at the Prarie Homestead.