Rachel H Kay Blog

Understanding Plant Families

When planning your vegetable garden each year there is one rule to keep in mind in order to ensure each year provides you with a good harvest. That rule is, don’t plant anything from the same family in the same garden bed year after year. Otherwise that wonderful harvest you had one year won’t be so wonderful the next year.

I can give you two really important reasons why this rule is so important. Plants of the same family use the same nutrients in the soil, and are susceptible to the same pests. Keeping this rule in mind each year can help ensure your plants are getting the nutrients they need and are a bit harder to find for pests to have their feast.

Plants from this family are really heavy feeders, so while you can plant some together, you can’t plant them all together. They’ll just take up too much nutrients and probably won’t do so well. This will make them weaker and more susceptible to pests.

Plants that belong to the nightshade family include tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and potatoes. While you can plant tomatoes and peppers together, I don’t recommend planting them with potatoes. They just won't’ do well together. Tomatoes and eggplant can also be planted together. Just make sure the tomatoes don’t shade the eggplant. You can also plant eggplant with peppers.

Plants in this family are cucumbers, melons, summer & winter squash, pumpkins, watermelon, and gourds.

Plants from this family are also really heavy feeders, so planting cucumbers and melons together won’t be a good way to utilize companion planting. If you decide to try planting cucumbers and squash together I would research the varieties you plan to buy. A basic cucumber, cucumis sativus, and squash, cucurbita pepo, are different species so they won’t cross pollinate. But if you grow different varieties that might be closer in species you may have a problem with cross pollination. Just do your research first.

Plants in this family include artichokes, chicory, endive, and lettuce. These plants are also heavy feeders. You can grow lettuce and spinach together without any issues. The thing to remember with artichokes is that they grow to be huge plants, and can grow as large as 4 ft high and wide. So they can easily shade out other smaller plants.

Plants in this family include broccoli, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, collards, cress, kale, kohlrabi, radishes, and turnips greens. This plant family is also made up of heavy feeders. I don’t recommend planting cabbage with broccoli. But cabbage and broccoli do grow well with turnips. But pick one or the other to grow with your turnips. Radishes and turnips also grow well together.

Plants in this family include carrots, celery, anise, coriander, dill, fennel, and parsley. Don’t plant dill and coriander with carrots. These plants produce compounds that can harm carrot plants.

Plants in this family include garlic, onions, leeks, and shallots. Onions and garlic planted with strawberries and peaches will help repel their pests.

Plants in this family include beans, peas, clover, and vetch. The good thing about this family is they put nutrients back into the soil. This is really great because if you need to add nutrients to a particular garden bed to get it ready for the next spring you can plant clover or vetch, then once the winter season is about done, let it die off and mix it into the soil. You can also plant beans and peas with most other plant families to help add nitrogen to the soil. Just don’t plant beans with beets or anything from the onion family. Onions can impede the growth of bean plants.

If you need help figuring out what plants can and can’t be planted together, you can check out my post Companion Planting.

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About Me

Hi there. I'm Rachel Kay, a Web Developer, Illustrator, & Designer, whose hobby is to be creative and artistic, while freelancing as a Web Developer building creative, modern websites.