Companion Planting Romance: Tomatoes Love Basil

Companion planting in gardening and agriculture is the planting of different crops in proximity for the benefit of both plants such as pest control, pollination, providing habitat for beneficial creatures, maximizing use of space, and to otherwise increase crop productivity. Companion planting is a form of polyculture. Companion planting is used by farmers and gardeners in both industrialized and developing countries for many reasons. Many of the modern principles of companion planting were present many centuries ago in cottage gardens in England and forest gardens in Asia, and thousands of years ago in Mesoamerica.

Not only do tomatoes and basil favor each other in most dishes, but tomatoes also benefit from basil in the garden. Growing tomatoes and basil near each other is said to make each crop taste better. Planting basil and tomatoes together provides the ability to harvest them at the same time and can improve harvest size. Basil is known to repel thrips, flies, and mosquitoes, protecting companion-planted tomatoes from these pests, as well as from milkweed bugs, hornworms and aphids. Basil also acts as a natural fungicide.

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Growing Conditions

Tomatoes love heat, so after mixing rich compost into your soil, plant them in a spot that gets full sun. Dig the planting hole deep enough so you can bury the first set of leaves. Stake or cage your tomatoes at planting time so that you don’t damage the roots later. Water young plants enough so that their roots don’t dry out; you can reduce watering to once a week or every five days as the plants mature.

Like tomatoes, basil plants like full sun, and they have similar watering requirements, qualities that contribute to their suitability as companion plantings. Plant the basil seedlings about 18 inches away from the tomato plants and install two or three basil plants per tomato plant for best results.

When Planting in your own garden consider using a companion planting chart like this one as a guideline.

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