Mesoamerican farmers knew that, if you planted beans with your corn, the corn would grow better. Ancient Chinese planted mosquito fern in their rice paddies. They didn’t know that it fixed nitrogen, but they knew that it shaded the rice and made it more productive. Planting different crops in close proximity for pest control, pollination, and increasing crop productivity is called companion planting. Carrots Love Tomatoes is your all-purpose reference guide to Companion Planting.
When mapping out my first square foot garden, I spent hours poring over this book. Planting the squash near the corn is ok, as long as you also have beans in there. Keep the tomatoes far away from the kale, but interplant with marigolds and basil. Radishes don’t need their own plots, just scatter seeds near your squashes and melons and allow them to go to seed. Nasturtiums lure cabbage worms away from broccoli. This encyclopedia of companion planting walks you alphabetically through first your vegetable garden and then through your herb garden, detailing how each plant gets along with particular other plants. If you are aiming for an organic garden, this reference is a must have.