10 Best Ways for Companion Planting Vegetables and Fruit for a Better Harvest

Companion planting vegetables and fruit is a practice of planting certain plants together to mutually benefit each other. There are several reasons why planting certain plants together is beneficial, although most of what we know about companion planting is from observation, and not scientific studies. A lot of what we know about companion planting is advice passed down for generations and found in almanacs.

If you are considering trying companion planting vegetables and fruit, you can use the table below as a starting point or follow the links below to learn more about companion planting for different crops.

We’ve been experimenting with companion planting in our garden for over a decade. In this article we’ll share what we’ve learned from experimenting in our garden as well as the experience of other gardeners and farmers.

As an Amazon Affiliate I may reciece Compensation when you purchase through a link on this page

Looking for more backyard farming resources focused on gardening, raising animals, and more? Join over 1,000 other homesteaders and get our free newsletter and access to our Modern Homesteading Academy. SIGN ME UP.


What are the Benefits of Companion Planting Vegetables and Fruit?

There are several reasons why companion planting works. Plants interact with each other in many ways and some of these interactions are beneficial to one or both of the plants. Here are some of the ways that plants can benefit each other.

Companion Planting vegetables and fruit
Companion Planting Vegetables and Fruit in Your Homestead Garden

Attracting Beneficial Bugs

A common practice of companion planting is to use one plant to attract beneficial bugs for another plant. The most common example of this is using flowers to attract bees that help pollinate your vegetables and fruit. Another example is to plant cone-shaped flowers that attract beneficial wasps that help manage other bug problems.

Deter Harmful Bugs

This is another potential benefit of companion planting although there is less evidence behind this. Certain plants emit a smell that deters bugs or in some cases, the plant itself may be poisonous to bugs.

Discourage Larger Pests

In addition to bugs, there are many other animals that can cause major problems in your backyard garden. Planting hedges is one way to deter certain animals, but there are also plants that certain animals dislike that may deter them from eating your other crops. Raccoons apparently don’t like cucumbers for example!

Companion Planting Vegetables for Shared Nutrients

As plants grow they pull nutrients from the soil around them and certain plants (like legumes) fix nitrogen in the soil. Using these plants with other plants helps to provide the needed nutrients for heavy feeders. There are also some plants that give off other chemicals that can benefit nearby plants.

Companion Planting Vegetables for Shade

This is a less common companion planting strategy but is easy to execute and worth considering. We like to plant our lettuce to the north of something that grows tall. That way in the summer when the lettuce is prone to bolting, it will be shaded by the larger plant in the front. You can also plant a ground cover plant that shades the base of tall plants and helps shade the roots from direct sun.

Companion Planting to Mark Other Plants

Finally, companion planting fruits and vegetables can help a gardener to define plant rows especially when you partner slow-growing and fast-growing vegetables. We use this strategy when growing carrots since they have a long germination time, we usually plant them alongside a faster-growing vegetable like lettuce. This way you can see where the seeds are coming up giving the carrots time to germinate.

How to Implement Companion Planting in Your Garden

First remember that companion planting is based primarily on tried and practiced strategies in the garden so you will likely see many different lists for companion plants. Since there are many different benefits from companion planting, how you implement companion planting might look different, and can seem overwhelming.

A very common companion planting strategy (and one of the easiest ways to start companion planting) is the 3 sister’s garden. In this companion planting example you plant corn, squash and beans together. The beans grow up the corn, the squash helps maintain the weeds by providing shade, the beans provide nitrogen for the heavy feeding corn and squash and you benefit from closely planted crops in the garden and an improved harvest.

While this example is straight forward, I’ve found companion planting charts (like the one below) to be overwhelming. I’ve tried to keep this chart as simple as possible to help you get started. Start with the chart below to get a sense of some of the plants that benefit each other. Then each year choose a few plants to try out near each other in the garden. An even easier approach is to focus on the plants that AREN’T good to put together. Once you have an overview of the plants that work well together, look at some of the quick approaches to get your started.

companion planting vegetable and fruit chart
Companion Planting Vegetables and Fruit in Your Homestead Garden: (Please credit Backyard Farming Connection with a link if using this image)

10 Simple Companion Planting Strategies

If you’re still feeling overwhelmed by companion planting. Here are some quick ‘rules’ or strategies that you can use to help you start companion planting vegetables and fruits in your own garden.

  1. Use herbs throughout your vegetable garden to help attract and deter bugs. Some of the best herbs to try are basil, borage, chives, cilantro, lavender, chives, mint oregano, rosemay, sage, thyme. Simply interplant these herbs with your other vegetables.
  2. Plant beneficial flowers in your garden to attract pollinators. Bright colored and cone shaped flowers are excellent at attracting pollinators. You can learn more about using flowers as in your homestead garden here.
  3. Try planting the 3 sister’s garden. Try growing beans, pumpkin and corn all together in the same garden. This tried and true garden method is great for promoting better growth for all plants. You can also try substituting sunflowers for the corn, or peas for beans.
  4. Try growing tomatos and basil together. I love this combination not only because there plants help each other, but when you go to pick a tomato you can grab some basil at the same time! You can also add some pepper plants to the mix as well as they like both tomatoes and basil.
  5. Plant your lettuce behind something tall. We often plant our lettuce behind something that grows vertically such as a bean trellis. You can also shade your lettuce behind tomatoes.
  6. In a backyard garden, avoid growing too much of one crop together to avoid a pest infestation that takes over. Instead, mix you plants up – have a row of tomatoes in one part of the garden and a few places in another place. This gives you a higher success rate.
  7. Avoid mixing legumes with the onion family. That means keep your peas and beans away from your leeks, onions, and garlic.
  8. Keep cabbage away from your strawberries! Cabbage tends to attract bugs and when planted near strawberries, they often impact your strawberry crop.
  9. Plant your carrot seeds along with other seeds like lettuce and add a row of oinions nearby to help deter carrot fly.
  10. Don’t get so hung up on planting with the right companion plants. We’ve broken the rules many many times and usually still come out with a great vegetable garden.
Photo of a garden
Companion Planting Vegetables and Fruit in Your Homestead Garden

Rotational Planting

Another ‘companion’ to companion planting (if that’s not too confusing!) is rotational planting. Rotation planting is when you rotate the crops through your garden to avoid planting certain plants after other plants. There are many reasons to rotate plants, such as breaking up the cycle of pests, rotating heavy feeding crops, getting multiple harvests from your garden and experimenting with different growing locations in your backyard.

A strong garden plan includes companion planting vegetables and fruit that grow well together and creating a rotation plan to improve your harvest.

Get started on next year’s garden by ordering seeds.

Looking for more on companion planting?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get a FREE copy of the ebook: The Modern Homestead and access to our community exclusively for backyard gardeners and homesteaders.

Just straight up homesteading ideas sent directly to you.

Learn more about the Modern Homesteading Academy, a low cost series of ebooks and mini-courses.


This will close in 15 seconds