Thursday, August 1, 2019

Vegetable & Herb Companion Growing

So you’re setting up your indoor garden and thinking, “How will I have space for all these plants??”

You have several options, but one of the most fun is companion growing. Companion growing is when you grow a vegetable and herb in the same pot; this allows you to save space and improve the growth and flavor of the veggies. Herbs tend to have more shallow roots than vegetables, so they can grow in the upper layers of soil, while the vegetables take the deeper layers.

Here are some combinations to try:

Basil and tomatoes

tomatoes and green onions being chopped on a cutting board.
Photo by Dennis Klein on Unsplash

Anyone who’s stewed homemade tomato sauce knows basil and tomatoes are a fabulous pair. They also grow great together and need similar care. If you’re starting the tomatoes from seeds, wait till they’ve germinated to transfer each seedling to the middle of a 12-inch (5 gallon) container. Then sow the basil seeds around the edge.

Dill and cucumber

Cucumber and dill make a mouth-watering combination. Try sprinkling salt and dill over sliced cucumber and serve it up on toast spread with cream cheese or mayo. So delicious, and if you’re growing them indoors, you don’t have to wait for summer!

You do need height to grow cucumbers indoors, which works well with dill, because this herb also grows a bit tall. If you have a grow tent, you can set up a trellis inside for the cucumber plant to climb on.

After starting your seeds in a 12-inch (5 gallon) container, let them germinate, then thin to two per pot. Add the trellis early on, and plant the dill in a ring around the outside. Dill is ready to harvest when it has more than one set of leaves and before it begins to flower. Cut one shoot off flush with the stem to encourage regrowth.

Oregano and cauliflower

Check out this recipe from

The mild taste of cauliflower pairs well with the flavorful punch of oregano. Also helpful is the way oregano keeps close to the soil, as cauliflower does not grow very tall. This enables you to grow them in the same pot without the herb blocking the light from the vegetable.

Cauliflower is a cool-weather crop, and oregano can handle this as long as it gets plenty of light. If you have other indoor garden vegetables, you may need a special location for this pot. Try using a grow light plus a sunny window in your home, but avoid overheating. Outdoors, cauliflower prefers 60 degree weather.

Cilantro and spinach

Together, spinach and cilantro make a delicious and nutritious addition to everything from salads to quesadillas to curries. Try spinach and cilantro with your eggs in the morning and experience the energy derived from these power plants.

Spinach is very versatile. Do you want to grow baby spinach? Then you only need a couple inches between each plant. If you hope to grow large leaves, thin them till there are up to five inches between each plant. Around the edge, plant your oregano seeds. Because spinach develops quickly, you can plant the oregano and spinach at the same time. The oregano should not need thinning.

Another element that makes these two plants a good pair is that they don’t need a very deep pot. Even spinach only needs 6–8 inches. So choose a wide, window-box style planter or a shallow circular pot. Be sure to use excellent potting soil to provide sufficient nutrients and drainage for delicate spinach.

This is just the beginning of the possibilities for companion planting herbs and vegetables! To make your own combination, double check that the plants are compatible in size, shape, and care. Also, it’s generally recommended that you start the vegetable seeds first and plant the herb seeds around the edge of the container after you’ve established some seedlings. Enjoy!