Garden Lore or Proven Fact?
The jury is still out on this, as far as the scientific community is concerned. Tests that have been run on traditional companion plants haven’t always supported the folk lore.
I maintain that it works, but then I’m not a scientist, just a humble gardener
How it (probably) works
- the scent of one crop may hide its companion from pests
- some companions are breeding grounds for beneficial insects
- each companion has different nutritional needs from the soil
A note about interplanting
Small gardens can still produce great yields by interplanting . From a companion planting perspective, finding the right match can also improve yields. For instance, tomato plants love basil and are benefited in every way by having basil planted in between the tomato cages. The basil also functions as a living mulch which helps keep weeds down.
At one time, I was not one bit interested in interplanting because I preferred to be able to till between rows. Yet I have discovered, through experimenting, that my garden actually does much better if it is not so rigorously tilled throughout the season. Instead, I use interplanting and liberal applications of straw to discourage weeds.