Companion Planting with Tomatoes

Collards Growing at the Base of Tomatoes.  Hog Panel Trellis.

Collards Growing at the Base of Tomatoes. Hog Panel Trellis.

The sun is slowly heating up in the sky over South Texas, and the soil is ready for spring planting.  Now is the time to get those tomatoes into the ground.

To achieve the greatest production from your tomato plants, you might consider companion planting.

Companion planting is the close spacing of two, three, or more plants together, where each plant helps and strengthens the others.  Every plant in nature—every vegetable, herb, fruit, and flower—grows better when planted in the right combination with other plants.

Nature always strives to create diversity in plant life, and companion planting harnesses this productive power of nature and channels it into the garden.

The best companion for tomatoes is collard greens.  Plant four collards closely spaced around the base of each tomato, and continue this pattern down the row.  The leaves of the collards will grow together and form a dense canopy over the soil.  This canopy preserves soil moisture, prevents weeds, and provides a sanctuary for beneficial predators–frogs, toads, lizards, and lady bugs.

Collards emit a subtle odor that repels many of the insect pests that attack tomatoes.  The tomatoes will vine thickly up their trellis and offer much-needed shade to the collards, while the collards keep the soil at the feet of the tomatoes nice and cool.  And best of all, you can harvest your collards along with your tomatoes all through the hot summer season.

Marigolds make excellent companions for tomatoes.  Densely plant a couple dozen marigolds around the base of each tomato plant.  The perfume of marigolds pushes nematodes away from the roots of your tomatoes.  And the vibrant yellow and orange flowers set a colorful stage for the lush green tomato vines.

Dill, basil, and cilantro are also excellent companions for tomatoes.   Plant these herbs generously throughout the tomato bed and let them go to flower.  These herbs are beautiful, edible, and their aroma repels many insect pests from the garden.

The best combination of all is to plant collards, marigolds, and herbs all together throughout your tomato bed.  The plants will not crowd each other.  Instead, they will work together to maximize the beauty, fragrance, pest resistance, and food production in every square inch of your garden.

Collards Companion Planted with Tomatoes

Collards Companion Planted with Tomatoes

New Gardening Class: “Your Summer Garden”

Edible Squash Blossom

Edible Squash Blossom

Friends, please mark your calendar for Saturday, March 23, from 10:00am to noon, for a new gardening class at Moore than Feed.  This class will focus on “Your Summer Garden”.

This event is free and open to the public.  Seating is available, and refreshments will be served.

If you enjoyed our tomato class, you will love this complete demonstration of how to plant a heritage garden with summer produce. 

Gardeners of all ages and skill levels are welcome.  Even if you have never planted a seed, you will go home with the knowledge and materials to start your own successful garden.  

We will share the best kept (and most interesting) secret in gardening, the Three Sisters Companion Method.  We have updated this ancient Indian technique to grow the modern varieties of our favorite vegetables:  sweet corn, summer and winter squash, various beans, watermelons, cucumbers, pumpkins, sweet and savory herbs, and gorgeous wildflowers.  

I used this method to transform our desert wilderness into a highly productive farm.  We invite you to pioneer your own garden space with this technique, and grow more vegetables than you can believe on a very small space, with minimal expense or labor.

We will begin the class with bare dirt, prepare garden beds of different sizes and shapes, plant the seeds, and answer all your questions about growing summer produce in the process.

We will also cover my favorite subject:  natural pest control.  We will show you how to use the good bugs to keep away the bad bugs, and to harness the power of nature to continually cleanse your garden of pests.

“Your Summer Garden” with Justin Butts

Where: Moore than Feed, 902 W. Market Street, Rockport, TX (361) 729-4909

When: Saturday, March 23, from 10:00am to noon

What: Your Summer Garden

Who: All gardeners of all ages!

Purple Bean Flowers on a Corn Stalk Trellis

Purple Bean Flowers on a Corn Stalk Trellis

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