Cucumber Companion Crops: Pickle Buddies

As you expand your knowledge of growing cucumbers, you may be interested in learning more about cucumber companion plants. Cucumber plants are among the top five vegetables in a kitchen garden and will thrive when planted near beneficial plants. Accompanying planting is not a new concept evidenced by the ancient Greeks and Romans.

Native to India, the cucumber has been a food source for well over 3000 years. We can thank Columbus for bringing it to the New World, where it quickly gained popularity in the garden. Even today, gardeners all over the world are constantly learning better ways to grow cucumbers. Companion planting is a great practice for achieving your garden goals.

This guide will discuss the best companion plants for cucumbers so you can have a healthy cucumber plant with lots of vegetables in the summer. So let's look at what companion planting is and what to and shouldn't plant in the garden with your cucumbers.

What is accompanying planting?

Cucumber companion plants include flowers such as nasturtiums or petunias. Source: grrrlgeek

Companion planting involves planting different plants together to maximize the health and efficiency of your vegetable garden. Certain plants that have grown together help each other and develop a symbiotic relationship. Each plant has strengths that can improve the life of another plant. Knowing which ones to pair together can take a few tries to get started.

However, there are proven companion plants that grow together well. A splendid example of planting companion plants comes from the native people of the country. They would sow corn, pumpkin and green beans together to increase the biodiversity of their vegetable garden. The beans would use the corn as a trellis and supply the other plants with nitrogen. The pumpkin would shade the soil and reduce weeds while also keeping out some rodent pests like raccoons, which would be more attracted to the pumpkin than the other products. This example can help you get a feel for the benefits of companion planting in the garden.

Other benefits of companion planting include repelling pests and even catching pesky insects or attracting beneficial insects like pollinators. As in the previous example about beans, a companion plant can pull nitrogen from the air into the soil to fertilize its neighbors. This also improves the taste of the vegetables that will be eaten later.

Tall plants can act as supports for plants that need to climb, and they can also provide shade for those that won't thrive in the heat. Low-lying plants make great ground cover to reduce weeds and keep the soil moist. You can place fast-growing varieties as a companion plant with slow-growing varieties as row markers so you don't accidentally double-plant or plow them when chopping the garden.

Good cucumber companion plants

Borage as a cucumber companionBorage can be an incredible cucumber companion. Source: muse_whipped

There are many good companion plants to choose from to place next to your cucumbers in the garden. First, decide what to focus on to keep your cucumbers healthy. If you have a specific pest problem, it is helpful to know which pest you are dealing with (especially if it is the dreaded cucumber beetle or aphids) and then find a plant that will deter the pests or useful beetles attracts.

There are many flowers that repel pests and at the same time attract the desired insects. Some examples are marigolds, marigolds, sunflowers, and tansy. If your goal is to attract beneficial insects, use flowers like nasturtiums, cosmos, and borage. Nasturtiums ward off cucumber beetles and thrips because they taste terrible to these insects. However, nasturtiums improve the taste of the cucumbers and enjoy the shade of the vines.

Flowers like Kosmos are a great option near cucumbers for attracting parasitic wasps. These beneficial insects provide pest control by ridding your cucumbers of aphids, cucumber beetles, and pumpkin bugs. Buckwheat and cowpeas attract beetle predators, which can help reduce the numbers of pests in your garden, while pansies, nasturtiums, and radishes deter the cucumber beetle.

Cucumber plants are sources of nitrogen, so it is ideal to place legumes such as French beans, field beans, runner beans, peas and lentils nearby to fix nitrogen in the soil. Many of these plants also shade the soil near your cucumbers to reduce weeds and keep the soil in that area of ​​the garden moist.

Root vegetables rarely compete for the same nutrients as cucumbers because they need different ones to develop. Examples of root vegetables that grow well near cucumbers include carrots, onions, turnips, turnips, radishes, beets, and parsnips. Radishes repel rust and beetles, while cucumber encourages radish to grow.

Dill attracts ladybugs and pollinator insects while it repels spider mites. Other herbal plants like catnip, oregano, and chives are also other herbal options for combating insect pests. Savory can also reduce the spread of cucumber beetles.

There are a few more garden combinations to mention. You can plant leafy vegetables like spinach and lettuce as they will thrive in the shade of the cucumber. Tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers are also good companions to plants. Tomatoes that are planted as cucumber companion plants are an especially good choice because they both require deep watering and are grown in the garden during the warm season. In addition, tomatoes can provide some shade for the vines in hot weather.

After all, both corn and sunflower make great trellises for cucumber vines, as long as you use a small variety of cucumber that won't get too heavy for them. Sunflowers need to be planted before the cucumbers because the seeds need cooler soil to germinate and you need to give the sunflowers time to grow large enough to support the fast-growing cucumber vines.

What not to plant with cucumbers

Fennel is not a good companionFennel is often a great pollinator draw, but ill-suited as a companion. Source: jorge zapico

Some plants are best kept apart in the vegetable garden as they can compete for nutrients, water, and / or space which could essentially stunt the growth of one of the plants. Let's look at what not to plant near cucumbers.

Melons, squash, and gourd plants all attract many of the same pests. As a result, all grapevine plants need a lot of space so that they don't compete for nutrients, water and space. It is best to place these plants away from each other to prevent insect infestation and to give them plenty of room to grow.

Putting one particular member of the nightshade family near your cucumbers is not a good idea: potatoes. Potatoes need a lot of water to survive, so they compete for soil moisture. If you plant them with your cucumbers, potatoes are at a higher risk of developing potato rot. Lastly, when you harvest your potatoes, there is an increased risk of damaging your cucumber plants.

Avoid planting fennel in the same garden bed as it will not go well with others. It does a great job of reducing weeds, but that also means it will stunt the growth of anything nearby, including the growth of cucumbers. Planting it nearby may attract beneficial insects, but avoid sharing the soil with your cucumber vines!

Although some herbs are ideal as companion plants (see the good companions above for a few ideas), the strong scent of some aromatic herbs will affect the taste of your cucumbers. Sage is one of the most aromatic herbs that can have undesirable effects. Other hearty herbs that shouldn't be planted in the same garden bed include basil and rosemary. Not only is mint a pungent aroma, it also likes to occupy space and compete with other plants.

Plants like Brussels sprouts or other related types of cabbage are best kept away from cucumbers. Brussels sprouts are heavy eaters and like a lot of water, so they compete for nutrients and thus affect the growth of your cucumbers. Other types of cabbage can be prone to similar conditions and can attract insect pests.

On the other end of the spectrum, don't plant anything that doesn't favor a lot of water, as cucumbers love moist garden soil. Drought tolerant things that like drier conditions should be avoided.

frequently asked Questions

CucumberCucumber plants can spread out or be formed into a trellis. Source: Jim

Q: can you plant cucumbers with strawberries?

A: If you want a good yield from your strawberries, the answer is no. Strawberry plants reproduce with runners, so they need a lot of space to spread out in the garden. Since cucumbers are a grapevine, they would compete with strawberries. In addition, strawberries prefer full sun and the cucumbers would most likely provide too much shade to the strawberries planted around them, which would affect their growth and fruit yield.

Q: How many cucumbers do you get per plant?

A: Depending on the variety, you can expect 15-20 cucumbers per plant during the growing season. Pickled varieties have a slightly higher yield. Ideal growing conditions ensure a good cucumber harvest during the summer months.

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