Fruits and vegetables contain unique characteristics such as resistance to pests, nutrient sharing, climbing structure, and more. When paired with good neighbors, these traits can be beneficial to the garden’s overall vigor. The close planting of different fruits and vegetables in a garden to provide mutual benefits of growth and protection from pests and disease is called “companion planting.”

Companion planting, while applicable to any garden type, typically sees the best results in densely planted areas like raised garden beds due to the proximity of the plants to each other. It is not, however, specific to warm-weather gardens. Growers can take advantage of companion planting in the colder months too.

Cold Season Plants and Their Companions

Companion planting is a simple strategy to implement once you know which plants pair well. For gardeners interested in companion planting during the colder months, consider the following:

Beets: These root vegetables do very well near onions, bush beans, leafy greens, and garlic. Bush beans (not pole beans) help beets grow by enriching the soil with nitrogen. Leafy greens like cabbage and kale work symbiotically with beets because both plants offer minerals the other requires. Garlic helps improve the flavor of beets and wards off pests due to its strong odor.

Carrots: Carrots have a direct enemy in carrot flies. To naturally repel them, carrots should be planted with onions, peas, lettuce, or wormwood. The onions and wormwood, specifically, are natural defenses against carrot flies. Peas and lettuce help by enriching the soil with nutrients that carrots need to grow healthy and vibrant. It’s important that carrots aren’t planted near dill, however, as it will hinder their growth.

Onions: Onions are a great pest deterrent, and is a common companion plantto many other plants. They specifically work well with beets, leafy greens, and carrots. However, they don’t do well with beans and peas.

Spinach: This leafy green will do very well with onions, mustard greens, and kale. Spinach is a versatile, hardy plant that can handle lower temperatures or high temperatures. So, if you plant this later in the cool season, it should do fine.

Turnips: Turnips do well next to peas. However, it’s not that turnips work better near certain plants as much as they need to be kept away from knotweed and mustard, which inhibit growth.

Other Companion Planting Tips

Companion planting is meant to promote growth, but some plants inhibit the growth of others. So, there is some strategy to consider here. For example: Onions do well with carrots. Carrots do well with peas. Onions do not do well with peas. So, if you want to grow onions and carrots, you will want to avoid peas. If you want peas and carrots, you’ll want to avoid planting onions nearby. When choosing companion plants, ensure they all work well together.

Along with knowing which plants work well with others, there are some additional good-to-know companion planting rules:

  • Sage can protect cabbage from cabbage moths.

  • French marigolds can be planted in almost any garden for protection against beetles, deer, and, when turned into the soil, root-knot nematodes.

  • Carrots, dill, and parsley attract praying mantises and ladybugs, which eat common garden insects.

  • Garlic, like onions, are natural repellants and work well with most gardens, but beans and peas do not work well with them.

If your garden is already growing, that’s completely fine. Companions can be introduced throughout the season to help you grow your best garden yet.