Just like people, all plants have strengths and weaknesses. Again, just as with people, companionship fosters our strengths and minimizes weakness. Companion planting pairs two or more types of plants for the mutual benefit of each other. In this particular article, we’re going to delve into cauliflower companion planting. What cauliflower companion plants grow well with cauliflower? Let’s learn more.
Before we talk about the specific plants that grow well with cauliflower, let’s look at exactly what companion planting is. As mentioned, companion planting is when two or more species are planted together to their mutual benefit. Sometimes this enables plants to uptake nutrients more efficiently or sometimes certain plants act as natural pest repellents or beneficial insect attractors.
Choosing the correct plant to benefit another mimics nature’s symbiotic relationship in the ecosystem. In nature, there is no mistake when you find certain types of plants commonly growing together.
One of the oldest and commonly known companion plantings is called “The Three Sisters,” comprised of corn, pole beans and squash. The Iroquois had been applying this growing principle for three centuries prior to the arrival of the first settlers. The trio sustained the tribe by not only providing them with a balanced diet, but spiritually as well. The Iroquois believed that the plants were a gift from the gods.
Metaphorically speaking, the Three Sisters support each other much as sisters do. The beans used the corn as support while engendering nitrogen, which can then be used by the corn and squash. The beans also grow up through the sprawling squash, effectively knitting the three together. The large leaves of the squash provide shaded areas that cool the soil and retard weeds and also keep nibbling critters away with their prickly stems.
But, I digress. Let’s get back to cauliflower companion plants.
Beans, celery, and onions are all excellent choices when companion planting cauliflower. Beans and cauliflower are an ideal combo. Both plants deter pests and attract beneficial insects. Celery also attracts beneficial insects and is a water hog, which means while it may utilize plenty of water, it leaves more nutrients in the soil for the cauliflower. While onions and cauliflower are a great combo, not so if you throw beans into the mix. Beans and onions do not mix, so avoid planting beans too if you want to grow cauliflower and onions.
Other veggies that are recommended for companion planting with cauliflower include:
Some herbs, such as sage and thyme, are also beneficial to cauliflower. Their strong scents deter some pests while their aromatic flowers attract bees.
Besides avoiding the combination of cauliflower, onion and beans, there are other plants that are not recommended for cauliflower companion planting. Peas and cauliflower do not mix well. The peas will stunt the growth of cauliflower. Strawberries are taboo too. Strawberries (and I can attest to this) are notorious for attracting slugs.
Tomatoes are also not recommended for growing near cauliflower. They need a tremendous amount of nutrition, which will lessen the amount the cauliflower has available.
Gardeners know that a diverse mix of plants, from annuals and perennials to flowers and vegetables, makes for a healthier garden. But did you know that the right (or wrong) combination of certain plants could actually make them more (or less) productive?
The process is known as companion planting. It is believed that growing certain plants in close proximity to others may help deter pests, promote growth and even improve flavor—or on the opposite end of the spectrum, certain plants, when planted close to one another, may actually stunt each other’s growth.
Learn which flowers and veggies work well together, and which ones should be planted far from one another.
Most cucumbers (Cucumis sativus) are ready to harvest in about 50-70 days, making them a popular choice to grow in the garden. You can see, and eat, real results in a short amount of time.
That is, if you can keep them disease-free.
I’ve often read how easy cucumbers are to grow. If you are in the same boat, congratulations! However, growing from experience, I know that cucumbers can be problematic, especially in colder/wetter climates.
Cucumbers may suffer from bacterial wilt, powdery mildew, a mosaic virus or an attack from cucumber beetles. It’s not easy being green!
Companion planting can help overcome some of these challenges. Here are some suggestions of what to plant your cucumbers with for a more reliable crop:
Legumes such as peas and beans will help to fix essential nitrogen in the soil. That being said, it is wise to plant bush beans with cucumbers for increased vigor of your cucumber crop.
It may be wiser still to use a shared trellis for both your pole beans and your cucumbers. Not only will it save you space in the garden, they will enjoy the company of each other too.
Often, in companion planting, we plant certain vegetables next to each other for reasons of disease prevention.
Other times the placement of plants can be neutral. Meaning that the relationship is neither harmful, nor beneficial. Such is the case with beets.
So, if you are looking for a place to plant more beets in your garden, go ahead and sow the seeds near your cucumber plants. By all means, go ahead and eat those highly nutritious beet greens!! A treat you can rarely find at the store.
Celery is often planted near members of the cabbage family, for its strong scent is thought to deter the cabbage butterfly. It also enjoys the company of dill, which we will get to in a moment.
As far as combining celery and cucumbers, there is no superior reason to plant, or not plant them together. However, it is one of those more neutral pairings that makes it easier to space out the many kinds of vegetables in your garden.
With any size garden, you need as many as these neutral relationships as you can get.
Companions in the human and pet world, frequently help each other out. Plants innately do this too.
Corn, like sunflowers, can act as a support for smaller varieties of cucumbers, should the corn be sufficiently tall when the cukes are planted/transplanted.
Keep this timing in mind when getting started with spring planting. Most of all, experiment with companion planting – and keep notes!
Just because it has worked for one gardener, doesn’t mean it will work the same good for you. It depends on your soil, the climate, the order of planting and more.
With time and experience it will be far easier, but don’t give up before you even get started. If one companion plant doesn’t work for you in your personal garden, another one surely will.
If you are going to have one spice crop in your garden, make it dill. Both the young, fresh green leaves, as well as the dill seeds, and dried flowers are perfect for pickling.
Dill also attracts loads of fly-by and crawl-by beneficial insects such as parasitic wasps and other pollinators. In an organic garden, you can never have too many of those.
You might also notice that dill has a slight effect on the flavor of your cucumbers. This is only beneficial if you enjoy the flavor of dill. Only plant it if you do.
If you are seeking a vegetable that is incredibly easy to grow, lettuce is your answer.
Sow a line of seeds and something is bound to emerge. Will it ever form a nice head like you buy from the store? Not always. That’s why some people prefer to grow leaf lettuce. It’s all salad greens once it is ripped up and coated with a homemade vinaigrette…
Lettuce, as a companion plant is good next to strawberries, radishes, carrots, and you guessed it, cucumbers. Again, for no special reasons, other than the fact that they do not dislike each other. For beneficial companion plants, that is reason enough.
These useful flowers help to repel all sorts of beetles and insects in the garden. There are many reasons why you’d want to grow marigolds in your vegetable garden.
In Hungarian they are known as büdöske. When literally translated, “büdös” means “smelly”, and you will find them in just about every garden in the countryside.
Perhaps without even knowing why, most villagers plant them, they are abundantly and quietly doing their job of helping to protect the entire garden with their “fragrance”.
Another amazing flower to plant in your garden every year is nasturtiums.
You’ll find time and time again just how essential they are. Not only are they edible, straight from the garden, they can be used in herbal infused vinegars, or as a natural antibiotic tincture.
With regards to planting nasturtiums alongside cucumbers, not only do they have a similar low-growing and sprawling habit that looks beautiful, the nasturtiums also repel insects, such as thrips, aphids and other cucumber munching bugs.
The same as with beans, peas also add to the nitrogen content in the soil. This by itself is not a high requirement for cucumbers, though it never hurts, since the N-P-K levels are slowly adjusting over time. This also depends on how often you fertilize, and with what type of fertilizer you apply.
Looks-wise, peas and cucumbers complement each other, at least in the beginning.
You also need to be mindful of timing when figuring out how to best “companion plant” your garden. As peas can be started – and harvested – earlier, then your cucumbers will have more space to start sprawling when their time comes to shine.
If you plant several lines of radishes in your garden, you know that it is best to stagger the planting, lest you be faced with eating 60 radishes in a single meal!
But what about growing cucumbers and radishes together?
It is useful to grow cucumbers to find out that they have one larger taproot, and several shallow roots that do not extend very far from the base. When you think about this root system, compared to root vegetables (carrots, turnips, parsley and parsnips), you will come to the conclusion the roots of cucumbers and root vegetables will not interfere with one another.
This, in turn, makes them great companion plants. It has been said that radishes may also help to deter damaging cucumber beetles. Companion planting is definitely worth a try!
Remembering that most cucumbers have a tendency to climb, sunflowers, just like corn, make for a functional and natural trellis.
This, in turn, helps you to save space in your garden. By the time you are ready to harvest the sunflower seeds, the cucumbers will have been long harvested.
A word of advice: choose pickling cucumbers for trellising on sunflowers that are lighter weight. If the cukes become too heavy, they could fall off (slide down) the sunflowers and become damaged.
How close together companion plants should be is a question that is not easily answered. Since companion plants are really just guides, the distance depends on the size of your garden.
Let’s say you have a small garden. If you wish to plant both garlic and beans, you want to make sure they are at opposite ends of the garden. With a larger garden (and a bigger patch of garlic) you may just want to be sure that the garlic and beans are planted several feet away, with something they both like in between. Several rows of kale and carrots should do the trick.
To make matters more complex, once you start companion planting, it is advisable to dive straight into crop rotation as well. There are certain plants that prefer not to be grown after each other, and some that prefer not to grow in the same place each year.