Are you a fan of cabbages, cauliflower, broccoli, or kale? These cruciferous veggies belong to the cabbage family, also known as Brassicaceae. They’re nutritious, easy to grow, and versatile in the kitchen. But did you know that you can further improve their growth and flavor by practicing companion planting?
Companion planting is the art of growing different plants together for mutual benefits. For example, some plants repel pests or diseases, while others improve soil fertility, attract pollinators, or provide shade. By strategically choosing your cabbage family’s companions, you can enhance their health and yield, while reducing pest and disease issues.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the best companion plants for cabbages, broccoli, cauliflowers, and kale. Let’s get started!
Best Companion Plants for Cabbage Family
1. Aromatic Herbs
Aromatic herbs like thyme, sage, rosemary, and mint are excellent companions for cabbage family plants because they repel pests like white cabbage moths and aphids. Their strong scents mask the cabbage’s smell, making it harder for pests to locate them. Herbs are also beneficial for attracting pollinators, improving soil fertility, and adding flavor to your dishes.
Alliums (onions, garlic, leeks, chives, etc.) are known for their pungent scent and flavor, which also repel pests and improve soil health. They contain sulfur compounds that inhibit fungi and bacteria, making them effective against damping-off, clubroot, and other Brassica diseases. Alliums also attract beneficial insects like hoverflies, which prey on aphids and caterpillars.
Legumes like beans, peas, and lentils are nitrogen-fixing plants that convert atmospheric nitrogen into a usable form for plants. They add nutrients to the soil, making it more fertile for cabbage family plants. Legumes also improve soil structure, increase water-holding capacity, and attract pollinators. However, avoid planting them too close to Brassicas as they may compete for nutrients.
4. Leafy Greens
Leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, and chard are good companions for cabbage family plants because they share similar soil and light requirements. They also attract beneficial insects and provide shade and ground cover for the soil. However, avoid planting them too close to Brassicas as they may attract the same pests and diseases.
Companion planting is all about experimenting and observing what works for your garden. Not all companion plants are created equal, and some may have negative effects on your Brassicas. For example, avoid planting Brassicas near strawberries, tomatoes, or peppers, as they share common pests and diseases.
To maximize your cabbage family’s potential, plant them in a sunny spot with well-draining soil, and rotate their location every year to prevent soil-borne diseases. Water them regularly, but avoid overhead watering, which can promote fungal growth. And lastly, have fun and enjoy the fruits of your labor!
Q: Can I plant Brassicas near each other?
Yes, you can plant Brassicas near each other, as long as they’re of different varieties. For example, you can plant broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage in the same bed, but avoid planting them in the same spot every year to prevent disease buildup.
Q: When is the best time to plant Brassicas?
The best time to plant Brassicas depends on your climate and growing zone. In general, plant them in early spring or fall, when temperatures are cooler and less prone to heat stress or bolting. Avoid planting them in the hot summer months.
Q: How do I protect my Brassicas from pests and diseases?
There are several ways to protect your Brassicas from pests and diseases. First, practice crop rotation and avoid planting them in the same spot every year. Second, use row covers or netting to prevent moths and butterflies from laying eggs on your plants. Third, use organic pest control methods like handpicking, insecticidal soap, neem oil, or BT (Bacillus thuringiensis). Fourth, maintain good soil health by adding compost, mulch, or cover crops.