Companion planting square foot gardening [Complete Guide]

Companion planting in square foot gardening has a number of advantages. Not only does it save room, but it also saves energy (after the initial work of mixing the correct soil mixture).

Additionally, you get to grow more veggie varieties in a limited space, but the pairing of the right crops can eliminate weeds and pests. Essentially, you can go chemical-free. However, it’s important to provide adequate spacing and keep the heights of plants in mind so that yield is maximized.

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How To Companion Plant within A Square Foot Garden 

Square Foot Gardening is a gardening method that allows you to grow a lot more in a tiny space than you could normally cultivate. It’s a new way to cultivate that takes up 80% less area and requires 80% less effort.

You can make a 16-square-foot grid out of a 4-foot by 4-foot rectangle. Each square foot is handled as a separate patch, with a set number of plants per square foot being planted. 

How Do You Start

The key is to think of each square as its own growth place, similar to a 12-inch by 12-inch pot. Keep in mind that each square next to it should be a respectable neighbor. Planting things that don’t get along, such as garlic or onions, with peas or beans is a bad idea.

This isn’t to say that Garlic and Onions can’t be planted with Beans on the same grid. It simply means that they should be kept at least two squares apart.

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Why Companion Planting is Essential in a Square Foot Garden

Even if you have a huge area to cultivate your plants in, a square-foot garden is still helpful. Plants indeed grow better together, some more than others, but when done correctly, the results will astound you.

A three-by-three-square foot garden will cover nine square feet and allow you to cultivate nine different plant species. To aid in the growth of your crops, you can attract helpful insects, pollinators, and predators. 

Read How to Grow Greener Broccolis?

How Many Plants Can you Plant in a Square Foot Garden?

The concept behind square foot gardening is understanding how much each plant takes up space. This means a tomato plant requires around 1 square foot of space. However, there is some buffer there.

Plants placed too close together may grow smaller than normal, and if planted too close together, they may not mature or have enough nutrients to share.

Square foot gardening isn’t an exact science, but it is a solid guideline for making the most of tiny spaces by negating the need for walking rows in gardens.

Plat Spacing Cheat Sheet

So, if a plant requires a square foot, a 12″x12″ is ideal, but a 10″x14″ can suffice because the occupied area is nearly the same. Carrots require around 3″ of space between them, so you may grow up to 16 in a square foot area!

You could use 12×12 for one tomato plant and the remaining 12×8 for roughly 8 carrots in your 12″x20″ planter, with a little extra room left over for a basil plant.

Determining the Right Spacing

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  • Step 1: Take a look at the back of your seed packet for the seed spacing number. (For this example, we’ll use a seed spacing of 3 inches.) 
  • Step 2: Divide your planting section’s width (about 12 inches) by the 3-inch seed spacing. 4 plants x 12 inches wide / 3-inch seed spacing. 
  • Step 3: Step two should be repeated for the length of your planting section. (It’s also around 12 inches.) 4 plants x 12 inches wide / 3-inch seed spacing.
  • Step 4: Multiply both of your responses. 4 plants on each side X 4 plants on each side = 16 plants.
  • Step 5: Get ready to plant. You may cultivate 16 plants in a 1 square foot area with 3-inch seed/plant spacing requirements. 
  • Step 6: Continue to plant. You now know how to space your plants for the rest of your garden.

Read When and how should I plant broccoli in Georgia?

Companion Planting Tips

It’s simple: within each square, particular veggies are planted in specific amounts (the number varies depending on the plant) at their appropriate distances from one another.

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This maximizes each plant’s area and nutrient utilization while pushing out weeds as a living mulch, allowing you to grow more vegetables in less space. Even improving plant health through companion planting.

1. Research

Do extensive research before planting your seeds (or transplanting your seedlings) onto your square foot garden to discover what you should plant together within each square. 

2. Not all plants get along

Some plants fight for nutrition, while others attract dangerous pests that can harm their plant companions.

Some exceptional pairings, on the other hand, have the opposite effect: they bring out the best in each other, attract the correct insects or pollinators, and produce the ideal healthy balance.

3. No Monoculture

Plant a range of mutually beneficial plants in your square foot garden, as one kind planted close together will attract more pests and disease.

4. Keep Height in Mind

Plant taller vegetables on the north side of your bed to encourage shorter plants (like basil, bush beans, and celery) to get their portion of the sun’s rays.

If you’re combining tall plants with a mix of shade and heat-loving plants, though, put your tall ones in the middle. Plant shade-loving plants on the north side and heat-loving plants on the south.

5. Choose Veggie Protectors

Alliums (onions, garlic, leeks, and shallots) can be used to create a barrier around your growing area, as they repel insects and pests. Keep them far from beans.

6. Add a Touch of Color

Planting herbs and flowers that repel insects like egg-laying butterflies and nematodes, such as sage with brassicas or marigolds with nightshades, will benefit your square foot garden.

Read Top 15 Vegetables to Grow in October

Plants Need Friends Too

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Our plants, like us, have companions. Planting your vegetables with others that they enjoy or dislike will help you enhance harvests, reduce disease, and restrict pests.

It’s what we call a win-win situation when you can pair plants together and obtain those effects. Companion planting offers four advantages.

  • Crop Protection:  Allow hardy plants to withstand weather that more delicate plants cannot. Plant hardy kinds that can withstand the sun and wind and act as a natural defense against the elements. 
  • Limiting Risk:  Things beyond your control (such as the weather) can wreak havoc on your productivity. Increasing your chances of greater yields can compensate for any losses and result in a net increase in output.
  • Good Hosting:  Growing all of the insects’ favorite foods is the best way to entice them into your garden. Beneficial insects can be kept around by plants that generate a surplus of nectar and pollen, which can assist manage detrimental pests.
  • Trap Cropping: A good defense is the best offense. Plants that insects like to eat should be placed adjacent to plants that they can’t stand.

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Read: How to get rid of grasshoppers in my vegetable garden

What Can You Plant Next to Each Other in a Square Foot Garden?

1. Tomatoes

Friends: Basil and tomatoes were meant for each other, not only in the kitchen but also in the garden. This herb increases tomato yields while also repelling flies and mosquitoes.

Another ideal partner is marigolds, which fight worms and other plant pests. Asparagus, carrots, celery, the onion family, lettuce, parsley, and spinach are all good tomato companions.

Foes: Cabbage, beets, peas, fennel, dill, and rosemary are among the vegetables included. Corn and tomatoes both have corn earworm, and tomatoes and potatoes both have blight, so keep these plants apart to avoid pests and disease from spreading.

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2. Peppers

Friends: Peppers benefit from basil because it repels aphids, spider mites, mosquitoes, and flies. Basil is also supposed to enhance the flavor of the pepper. Onions, spinach, and tomatoes are also nice partners.

Foes: Beans, because the vines will spread amongst the pepper plants.

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3. Green Beans

Friends: Corn and beans grow nicely together because the beans will climb up the corn stalks, eliminating the need for a scaffold. Beans also help corn grow by fixing nitrogen in the soil. Marigolds, nasturtiums, and rosemary increase the rate of development and improve the flavor.

Foes: Anything from the onion family, such as beets. Bean plant growth, in particular, is inhibited by onions.

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4. Cucumbers

Friends: To keep aphids and beetles away from your cucumbers, plant marigolds, and nasturtiums among them. Companion plants include beans, celery, corn, lettuce, dill, peas, and radishes.

Foes: Aromatic plants, such as sage, will prevent cucumbers from growing well

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5. Onions

Friends: Carrots should be planted near onions to keep the carrot fly at bay. Plant onions near aphid-prone (but onion-friendly) vegetables to keep the pests away. Beets, cabbage, carrots, lettuce, parsnips (which also endure carrot fly), tomatoes, and spices like marjoram, savory, and rosemary are all wonderful buddies of onions. 

Foes: Asparagus, beans, and peas.

6. Lettuce

Friends: Plant mint among your lettuce to keep snails away from the leaves, or chives and garlic to keep aphids at bay. Companion plants include beans, beets, broccoli, carrots, corn, peas, radishes, and marigolds. Ladybugs that consume aphids are attracted to marigolds.

Foes: Because parsley grows into a little but bushy plant that can choke out your lettuce.

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7. Squash

Friends: Corn and squash are ideal garden buddies because the cornstalks provide a place for squash vines to develop. Squash goes well with beans, peas, radishes, dill, and marigolds when grown together.

Foes: Potatoes, as both crops are susceptible to blight.

8. Carrots

Friends: Carrots are heat tolerant, which is why they pair nicely with tomato plants that may give some shade. Tomatoes also contain solanine, a natural pesticide that is effective against pests that attack carrot plants.

Mutual Benefits: Carrots are also beneficial to tomatoes. Carrots help to aerate the soil around tomato roots, allowing more air and water to reach them. Carrots and leeks make wonderful companions because carrots repel carrot flies and leeks repel leek moths and onion flies. Carrot flies are also deterred by rosemary, sage, and chive.

Foes: Keep coriander and dill far from carrot plants since they both create substances that might harm them, and parsnips suffer from the same illnesses and pests as carrots, so keep them separated to avoid an infestation.

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Read Best tomatoes to grow in pots

9. Radishes

Friends: Cucumber pests will be drawn away from cucumbers if radishes are planted among them. They also thrive in the presence of carrots since they are picked before the carrots help soften the soil as the carrots grow. Radishes get along well with onions, beets, cabbage, kale, lettuce, spinach, and squash.

Foes: Hyssop.

10. Corn

Friends: Green beans, for example, are a favorite of corn because they fix nitrogen in the soil. Cornstalks can also be used to support vining or trailing plants such as beans, cucumbers, peas, pumpkins, and melons. When planted alongside maize, zucchini grows well.

Foes: Corn earworms damage tomatoes and corn. Plant these two far apart to prevent pests from spreading.

Read: How to Get Rid of Voles in Vegetable Garden

What plants grow well together chart

CropIdeal companionDislikes Growing With
AsparagusAsters, Basil, Cilantro, Marigolds, Oregano, Parsley, Peppers, Sage, Thyme, TomatoesOnion, Garlic, Potatoes
BeansCarrots, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Cucumber, Marigolds, CornChives, Leeks, Garlic
Broad BeansBroccoli, Lettuce, Carrot, Corn, CeleryFennel, Onions
BasilAsparagus, Oregano, Peppers, Tomatoes, PeppersSage
BeetsBush beans, Broccoli, Corn, Garlic, Kohlrabi, Onion, Leeks, Lettuce, Mint, Sage, Cauliflower, GarlicPole beans
BroccoliCelery, Dill, Rosemary, HyssopOregano, Strawberries, Tomatoes
CabbageBeets, Potatoes, Onion, Sage, Celery, ChamomileStrawberries, Tomatoes, Eggplant
CarrotBeans, Lettuce, Peas, Tomatoes, Onions, ChivesChives, Dill, Parsnip
CauliflowerBeans, Celery, Oregano, HyssopNasturtium, Peas, Tomatoes, Potato
CeleryCabbages, Spinach, Tomatoes, OnionParsnip, Potatoes
CornBeans, Cucumber, Peas, Pumpkin, Potato, SunflowersTomatoes
CucumberPea, Lettuce, CeleryCauliflower, Potatoes, Basil
EggplantSpinach, Peppers, Potatoes, BeansFennel
GarlicCucumbers, Lettuce
LeekCarrot, CeleryLegumes
LettuceCarrots, Radish, Strawberries, BeetsBeans, Parsley
OnionsBroccoli, Cabbage, Lettuce, TomatoesBeans, Peas
PeasBeans, Carrots, Corn, CucumberOnion, Garlic
PeppersTomatoes, Parsley, Basil, CarrotsFennel
PotatoesCorn, Cabbage, Peas, EggplantPumpkin, Sunflowers, Cucumber
PumpkinCorn, SquashPotatoes
RadishBeets, Carrots, Peas, Spinach, BeansCabbage, Cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts
SpinachBrassicas, Eggplants, Leeks, Lettuce, Peas, Radish, StrawberriesParsnips, Potatoes
Swiss ChardBeans, Brassicas, Celery, CauliflowerParsnips
StrawberriesBeans, Borage, Garlic, Lettuce, Onions, Peas, Spinach, ThymeBrassicas, Fennel, Kohlrabi
ThymeBrassicas, Strawberries
TomatoesAsparagus, Basil, Carrots, Celery, Chives, Cucumbers, Lettuce, Marigolds, Mint, Onion, Parsley, Peppers, Brassicas, Corn, Dill, Fennel, Potatoes

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Read: How to Get Rid of Whiteflies in A Vegetable Garden

How Do You Lay Out a Square Foot Garden?

When considering close spacing, it’s helpful to think about root systems that are compatible. Crops with comparable root development patterns are paired together in the following pairings. 

When roots are planted close to each other, they will not compete and will make the most of the available underground area.

  • Beans- carrots, celery, corn, cucumbers, onions, radishes, squashes 
  • Kohlrabi- beets 
  • Leeks- carrots 
  • Lettuce- carrots, onions, radishes 
  • Onions- cabbage, carrots, eggplant, peppers, radishes, spinach 
  • Parsnips- lettuce 
  • Peas- radishes, turnips 

Sunlight Requirement

Combine plants that have different light requirements but grow nicely together. The veggies listed on the left enjoy full sun, whereas the vegetables listed on the right tolerate shadow.

  • Bush beans- celery, lettuce, spinach 
  • Cole crops- celery, lettuce, spinach 
  • Trellised cucumbers- celery, lettuce 
  • Eggplant- celery 
  • Onions- carrots, lettuce 
  • Trellised peas- lettuce, spinach 
  • Staked tomatoes, lettuce

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Set the Pace


Water on a regular basis harvests and appreciate your hard work. Once your seedlings have germinated, you’ll be shocked at how much food you can grow in such a little space and with so little effort.

And once you’ve picked everything you can eat, planting another succession is surprisingly easy, and you’ll be feasting on excellent vegetables in no time.

Try Again If You Fail

If some seedlings do not thrive, simply replace them with new seeds. In more packed squares (such as 8, 9, and 16-plant spacings), it’s best to wait for other successful veggies in the same plot to achieve maturity and harvest first. This way, your little new plant introductions aren’t overshadowed and crowded out.

Save Money

Not only will you have a blooming, charming food garden with little effort compared to what it takes to maintain a full-sized one, but you’ll also save money on your food budget.

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Who doesn’t desire fresh, homegrown veggies from their own yard (and the fruits of their labors)? Nothing compares to vegetables that you have grown yourself. Companion planting in square foot gardening is the best way to achieve this.