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  • Writer's pictureThe True North Handyman

The #1 Vegetable Gardening Tip: Don't Colour Code

Updated: May 28, 2021

I delivered a set of raised garden beds to a client this week, and when I dropped them off we got chatting about what was going to go in them. The client had a slew of veggies ready to plant, all different kinds, and I asked which ones. Carrots, cucumber, beans, red peppers, beats, tomatoes...

"So you'll colour code them then?" I asked.

"Oh no, you can't do that!" She replied. If I have to give you one vegetable gardening tip, it that's you can't go by colour. You have to plant complimentary veggies!

I took that home to share with my partner-in-crime. She plants veggies every year, but perhaps not with the success she'd like.

So we got to researching.

The Best Vegetable Gardening Tip: Companion Plant

Apparently, unbeknownst to us, certain vegetables grow better with some than others. This is called companion planting. For example, you don't want to plant lettuce with beans, but it's good to plant with carrots. And while corn grows great with peas, beans and cucumber, it doesn't want to be stuck with tomatoes.

For best results, you want to plant friends together, for a variety of reasons:

  • Eliminating competition - Growing plants next to their companions can improve the overall health of both plants. Different plants have different nutrient requirements, so you want to make sure those plants will absorb what they need without depriving the others.

  • Better Flavour - When plants take from the soil, they change its biochemistry. When done you pick the right companions, the soil can then change or improve the flavour of other plants in the area. A perfect example of this is tomato and basil - the perfect spaghetti sauce pairing actually starts in the garden!

  • Plant Protection - Too much sun or wind can damage certain plants, so planting hearty, tall plants in with shorter, more fragile ones will offer protection from the bright sun and harsh winds.

  • Optimize Soil – Plants with long taproots like parsnips and carrots will lift nutrients from the depths of the soil, benefiting those plants with shallow root systems. Nitrogen is also important to many plants, and some, such as peas and beans, actually help to draw nitrogen in, making it more available in the soil for the plants that need it.

What to Plant Together

So, which veggies grow best together?


  • Likes: Basil, carrots, coriander, dill, marigolds, parsley, tomatoes.

  • Dislikes: Garlic, onions, potatoes


  • Likes: Beets, carrots, chard, cabbage, corn, cucumbers, peas, radishes

  • Dislikes: Garlic, onions


  • Likes: Basil, beets, bush beans, carrots, celery, cucumber, dill, garlic, lettuce, marigolds, mint, onions, radishes, rosemary, sage, spinach, Swiss chard, thyme

  • Dislikes: Asparagus, cantaloupe, climbing beans, mustard, peppers, pumpkins, strawberries, sweet corn, watermelon


  • Likes: Beets, celery, chard, lettuce, spinach, onions

  • Dislikes: Kohlrabi, tomatoes


  • Likes: Beans, lettuce, onions, peas, peppers, tomatoes

  • Dislikes: Dill


  • Likes: Cabbage, carrots, chard, lettuce, peppers, tomatoes

  • Dislikes: Peas, beans


  • Likes: Asparagus, carrots, celery, onions, parsley, peppers

  • Dislikes: Corn, dill, kohlrabi, potatoes


  • Likes: Beans, corn, dill, garlic, marigolds, oregano, peas, radishes, spinach

  • Dislikes: Potatoes and pumpkin


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