The classic example of happy companion plants is the legendary “Three Sisters”—corn, beans, and either pumpkins or squash. In this technique, known as companion planting, the three crops are planted close together. The three crops benefit from each other. The corn provides a structure for the beans to climb, eliminating the need for poles. The beans provide the nitrogen to the soil that the other plants utilize, and the squash spreads along the ground, blocking the sunlight, helping prevent establishment of weeds. The squash leaves also act as a “living mulch”, creating a microclimate to retain moisture in the soil, and the prickly hairs of the vine deter pests. Corn lacks the amino acids lysine and tryptophan, which the human body needs to make proteins and niacin, but beans contain both and therefore corn and beans together provide a balanced diet.
Many other crops benefit from companion planting. Which do you plant together and which do you separate, you ask? Below you will find a link to a handy Companion Planting Chart to answer all your questions and help you get the most from your garden.