Tomatoes Hate Cucumbers: Secrets of Companion Planting + Popular Planting Combinations

Tomatoes Hate Cucumbers: Secrets of Companion Planting + Popular Planting Combinations

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companion planting design

Did you know that tomatoes hate cucumbers?

While they might taste great together in a salad, tomato plants actually dislike growing in close proximity to any member of the curcurbit family, which includes cucumbers.

Tomatos love carrots and basil, however – so planting these together will actually make them each grow more vigorously!

Sounds hokey? The idea that some plants and plant families are “friends” with others and grow better together is called companion planting, and it’s been around since the dawn of food cultivation.

Check out this Companion Planting book on Amazon!
Check out this Companion Planting book on Amazon!

Planting your veggies in neat rows with labels is satisfying to the eye, and easier to harvest. However, when we look to nature, we don’t see rows anywhere, nor do plants all grow clumped up in groups of the same thing together.

Mimicking nature’s biodiversity might make your garden look messy, but it’s been proven to help each individual plant to grow better. Plants in a polyculture are more resilient and tend to have fewer losses from insects or disease.

Things like carrots, dill, parsley, and parsnip will attract praying mantises, ladybugs, and spiders. These predator species of insects feast on the bugs who like to ruin your tomatoes, so it’s a win-win for the tomatoes (and you)!

great garden companions
Check out the Companion Garden book on Amazon.

This is also why it’s a great idea to interplant flowers with your vegetable plants–particularly marigolds and nasturtiums. These flowers will attract and feed beneficial pollinator insects, which will increase the fruit-set of many squashes, peas, cucumbers, tomatoes, and other veggies. Nasturtiums are edible flowers and look lovely in salads, and their nutritious root, called mashua, used to be a staple crop in South American regions.

Finally, some plants simply don’t get along, and won’t do well when they’re forced to share root space. Peppers and beans don’t like being next to each other, nor do potatoes and tomatoes (both members of the nightshade family). Peas prefer being far away from onions, and lettuces do not like to be near broccoli plants.

Here’s a great list of plants that grow well together as garden friends. Or, you can grab a copy of the Old Farmer’s Almanac.
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Screenshot 2017-03-18 at 8.36.46 AM

To learn more about companion planting, check out the longtime bestseller, Carrots Love Tomatoes, and the more recently published book, Great Garden Companions.

89 COMMENTS

  1. I agree with everything…. except whenever I grow nasturtiums, they are infested with aphids. (wouldn’t eat a one). Do you have any advice for me? This also happens whenever I grow kale. I didn’t have anything friendly planted next to them, though.

    • I had this issue with kale as well! It was actually so exhausting that I gave up. I will look into this and ask the author if she has any ideas for you!

      • Richard Hoffman

        I had tbe same problem as you. Ants use aphids in the same way that humans use livestock. They actually place aphids on plants. Aphids bear at an incredible pace, sucking on plants and bearing honeydew, a sweet liquid, for ants. The key to growing aphidless kale remains in the timing. Plant kale in a different garden spot than before in the fall! Kale can withstand cold westher! Harvest the kale in the spring. In that way, you avoid the aphid problem!

    • Get ladybugs, they eat a lot of them.

      “Along with insects, ladybugs also look for pollen for a food source, so there are numerous plants you can grow to help attract them. Flowers and herbs such as cilantro, dill, fennel, caraway, yarrow, tansy, angelica, scented geraniums, coreopsis and cosmos are good choices for luring the ladybug.”

      • Never plant Yarrow! I call it dog poop plant: stinky stinky stinky! Buy a skunk first.

        • i have Red Yarrow! I love Yarrow..Don’t smell, but I love looking at it. Glad to see LAdy Bugs like it too!

        • Brandon Barnard

          Yarrow has medicinal properties, it is beneficial for staunching of blood.

        • Yarrow is great for insect bites. Rub its leaves on mosquito bites, and the itchiness goes away. With no scratching, the swelling disappears more quickly.

        • I agree, but not for the smell. You will never be able to get rid of it once planted. It’s like planting creeping charlie or purple deadnettle.

        • Yarrow is actually a very good medicinal plant. Even more especially for women.

      • My friend tried this. As soon as the ladybugs were released, birds came down & ate them all! So she bought more, and the same thing happened. She gave up, cos she said she didn’t buy them to feed the birds!

        • Smallspacebigplans

          It is best to release the lady bugs at night. They will stay closer to where you release them and the birds are asleep.

          • Let the ladybugs out at night for sure. Plant friendlies next to the kale. And make a soap wash to spray on the underside of the kale where the aphids stay. Use a Castile soap like Dr. Bronner’s Organic liquid Castile soap. Dilute to instructions on bottle. Works wonders for me with all plants affected by aphids. You have to reapply every week.

    • I had the same issue with tomatoes, i planted a clove of garlic between all the tomato plants, one tomato plant, one clove of garlic, etc.. for each row. The aphids went away in a couple of days and I was also able to grow garlic as a bonus 🙂

    • Next time you have problems with your kale dust your plants with self-rising flour. This trick works well with any soft bodied insect. It kills worms fast and is completely organic.

      • Worms are friends to gardeners.

        • Not the ones that are actually some young moths. Ever heard of the tomato hornworm?

          • I believe Deborah Pawle is referring to earthworms, Vic. They burrow through the ground, aerating it and adding to its fertility with their droppings. The tomato horn worm is not actually a worm; it is a caterpillar. Don’t mean to start a firestorm; just could not resist.

          • I believe Deborah Pawle was referring to the earthworm, Vic. They burrow through the earth, aerating the soil and improving the fertility with their droppings. The tomato hornworm is not a worm; it is a caterpillar. I don’t mean to start a firestorm, but could not resisting making a comment.

          • I always have tomato hornworms. They turn into a huge moth but I can’t off hand think of what they are called. I put some in a jar and watched them. They are ravenous eaters, constantly eating the leaves and I don’t remember how long it takes them to pass but I think it’s about every 10 minutes and out of the other end comes the poop until they get ready to morph.

          • Worms don’t become moths. Caterpillars do. Common name might be hornworm, but it’s not an actual worm.

      • I’m on a gluten free diet, the flour would make my Kale inedible 🙂

        • Good call on that! I wonder if gluten free flour would work???

          • Maybe diatomaceous earth

          • If it’s self- rising flour that works and not regular flour, then it might be the baking powder in it that is the deterrent. But you’d have to check on that.

          • Diatomaceous earth is good for a lot of things.
            Human grade is real good.
            Don’t inhale it

        • Use diatomacious earth. No glutin and kills bugs fast.

          • No diatomaceous earth, please. Gardens are a bee haven, and DE is just as deadly to bees as the pest bugs. I do use it, in my chicken coop for chick mites, but not on plants.

          • WOW! Great info!

          • DE Kills bees though ?

          • What about DE on the soil, not the plant itself?

        • Flour doesn’t penetrate. WASH ALL PRODUCE

        • DE diatomaceous earth, has lots of applications but u can use it instead of flour. Side note: stuff is really light so a 10lb bag lasted my small garden two years so far.

          • OH YES! We have used DE for ants and it works wonders! And fleas!

          • Was just wondering where to get DE? We having a flea problem in back yard but can’t use lime because I worry about burning the dogs feet. Is mostly grass? Weeds and dirt at the moment but wish to make veggie gardens soon.
            TIA
            Fi

        • Use organic flour…Usually they allergy is due to pesticides which are not found when you buy organic.

        • All you have to do is wash the kale first to get rid of the flour – it isn’t absorbed into the kale.

    • Mix a couple of drops of dish liquid with water in a squirt bottle and spray your plants, kills aphids on contact and will not hurt your vegetable plants or flowers. I have been doing this for years with success.

    • Add a couple of drops of dish liquid to a squirt bottle full of water and shake. Spray your veggie and flower plants making sure to get on the back side of leaves also. This mixture kills aphids on contact and does not hurt your plants. I have done this for years with great success. Avoid doing this during the heat of the day.

    • Try frequently spraying them with soap and water. T

    • Diatomaceous earth helps with aphids and just about every other kind of bug, totally non toxic-make sure to get food grade,not the stuff for pool filters. Also helps re-mineralize soil.

      My trick for crawly bugs–we get japanese beetles and stinkbugs a lot–is the vacuum cleaner. Just get the extension cord and go suck ’em up. Yes, the neighbors thinks I’m nuts, but they thought that anyway.

    • Neem oil works great to get rid of aphids. It is also organic.

    • Make a tea out of tobacco or green walnut husk and spray on your plants every couple days and after it rains…ive had great success with both they keep everything but bees away

    • I like planting basil with my kale.. from Michigan, never had a problem with nastirums or kale; zuchinni is my issue if I plant from seed I have better luck than from starter plants.

    • Jessica Terrington

      I found that cutting up browning banana peel and putting it under my plants seems to deter aphids!

    • It’s good to have a trap crop for aphids, to keep them off other plants. When they get full carefully put a plastic bag around plant and pull it out of ground, while keeping all the bugs in. Tie it tight and put in trash can, never in compost. Kale is a great trap crop too.

    • Diatomaceous earth works very well on any and all brassicas in my experience. I water the leaves…the only time I do…and sprinkle diatomaceous earth ont he leaves. I try to get as little as possible on the soil.

    • Mint enhances growth and health and discourages aphids, ants, flea beetles.

  2. Edith Thornburg

    I am trying to get a good view of the image that brought me here. It has Sweet corn in the top left corner and potatoes just to the right, in the top middle… Anyway, where can I see this image? I would love to print it out!

  3. Neem oil spray is approved for organic gardening and kills aphids.
    Mix it with rainwater and use it promptly
    Because it loses effectiveness as it ages

  4. what can you plant corn with and squash ??

    • My Grandma would plant corn,squash & peas together. The pea vines climb the corn stalks & the squash provides ground cover for the peas & corn. Squash helps to retain moisture for all three.

  5. Never had any problems growing tomatoes close to cucumbers or watermelons, Of course cucumbers and melons need to be fairly far apart from anything including their selves.

  6. Never had any problems growing tomatoes close to cucumbers or watermelons, Of course cucumbers and melons need to be fairly far apart from anything including each other.

  7. The headline/hook of the article is that tomatoes are not companion plants to cucumbers because they are part of the cucurbit family, yet cucumbers are not in the “foe” column adjacent to tomatoes. Additionally, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, corn, and kale are not cucurbitae either.

    • Yes, I too was wondering why tomatoes and cucumber weren’t listed in each other’s “foe” category. Would the author of the article please address this?

  8. I had a problem with gnats in the soil of the plants that I had bought from the store. I didn’t want to throw them out because they were beautiful. I tried everything to cure the problem, and ended up throwing out even my beautiful houseplants that I had raised for years. Does anyone know how to definitely get rid of gnats in the soil.

    • Use hydrogen peroxide, dish soap and water. The peroxide is actually good for the soul and the soap suffocates the bugs.

      • How much h2o2 to water and dish soap please! Thanks

  9. Garlic grown around the roots of roses will deter greenfly

  10. How do l control white flies in tomatoes effectively?

  11. some sort of Inka’s Milpa?

  12. Smallspacebigplans

    I have a terrible problem with moles (or voles). They destroy everything I plant from the roots up. I also have issues with squirrels. Help!

    • Holey Moley… Is an OMRI certified mole repellant.

    • If you put a bird feeder away from your garden they’ll probably go for that instead.

    • spread coffee grounds around your yard, it doesn’t kill the moles but they will relocate

  13. Frode Haugsgjerd

    Smallspacebigplans: Get a cat, they kill everything. But don’t feed birds where the cat can get to them, as they are good helpers in the garden.

  14. Some people like their cucumbers pickled

  15. How do I get rid of the white flakes that seem to fall on my shoulders? Help!

  16. The statement that tomatoes don’t like cucumbers is contradictory to the list given at the end of the article. No where in the list of companion plants does it state that either are a foe of the other. I’m going to try it this summer and see what kind of results I get.

  17. Loretta Mazzola

    My biggest problems in the garden seem to be squash bugs and Japanese beetles. Is there any way to get rid of squash bugs besides going out and picking them off every day? And the Japanese beetles overrun the garden and decimate the leaves of my plants before they disappear for the season. Any suggestions?

  18. Cheryl Fontaine

    Companion planting is a great idea. What I like to do also is NOT plant the same thing in a long row, I consider that an invitation to beasties so my garden isn’t neat and orderly, but it sure is beautiful. Have been organic gardening since I was ten years old, that’s 62 years. Still love it!

  19. Interesting, tomatoes hate cucumbers? I have always grown them together with no issues. This year most people in the area had a poor tomato season, I on the other hand had a bumper crop. The tomatoes are finished now however the cucumbers are still producing with the second of 2 planted just getting started (strategically positioned to slow growth).
    I have never fully paid attention to these so called facts as quite often the reverse seems to occur i.e. no success starting companion plantings. I have tried planting basil near tomatoes and sure they grow but a bit lacklustre. I planted basil this year in a separate location and it took off.
    I actually believe the scientists stance on the world “the only real fact is there are no facts”. I prefer to think of this type of information as a guide. Try it, if it isn’t successful, think outside the box i.e. do what you think is right and works for you.

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