Brassica oleracea var. italica, commonly known as broccoli, not only takes up space in your garden but also has a secret to share. By carefully selecting companion plants to grow alongside it, you can create a thriving ecosystem where multiple plants support and benefit each other. The best part? Many of these companion plants complement the flavor of broccoli when combined in meals. Imagine a delicious broccoli-potato-shallot soup with a side salad of lettuce, celery, and spinach!
One cultivar that thrives alongside broccoli is the ‘Di Cicco’ variety, which grows to a height of two to three feet and spreads two feet wide. This size makes it an ideal companion for shade-loving plants like lettuce, spinach, and chamomile, all of which flourish in the presence of a little shade. The ‘Di Cicco’ variety can be obtained from Ames Farm Center.
Another excellent companion for broccoli is the ‘Montebello Hybrid’ cultivar, which pairs well with sun-loving plants such as beets, celery, shallots, and rhubarb. This compact variety, available from Burpee, spreads 20 inches wide with a maximum height of 24 inches.
Now, let’s explore why these nine plants make perfect companions for your broccoli.
Beets: The Perfect Pair
Beets and broccoli complement each other perfectly. While broccoli craves calcium from the soil, beets require significantly less of it. By planting these two together, you can ensure that your broccoli receives adequate calcium without risking deficiency. ‘Lutz Green Leaf’ beets are an excellent choice, producing tasty tops and dark red roots. You can find ‘Lutz Green Leaf’ beet seeds at Eden Brothers.
Celery: A Flavor Booster
Some gardeners swear by the flavor-enhancing properties of celery when grown alongside broccoli. While companion planting is often more folklore than science, it’s worth experimenting with this combination to see if you notice a difference in flavor. Give the ‘Pascal’ celery variety a try; it grows tall, strong, and supple. Seeds for ‘Pascal’ celery are available at Eden Brothers.
Chamomile: A Fragrant Cohort
Planting chamomile alongside your broccoli benefits both plants. Chamomile is said to improve the flavor of broccoli, and it also attracts bees and other pollinators to your garden. Additionally, chamomile flowers can be used to make soothing tea. Sow chamomile seeds about eight to 12 inches away from your broccoli plants. You can find German chamomile seeds in different packet sizes at Eden Brothers.
Lettuce: Providing Shade and Protection
One of the challenges of sunny weather is the tendency for lettuce to bolt quickly. By planting lettuce alongside broccoli, you can provide shade to the lettuce leaves and slow down the bolting process. Consider trying the Lettuce Leaf Blend, available from Eden Brothers. This blend contains eight different varieties of lettuce in various colors and textures.
Potatoes: Surprising Allies
Many vegetables cannot be grown alongside potatoes due to their nutrient requirements. However, broccoli is one of the few exceptions. Potatoes absorb different nutrients from the soil, primarily needing magnesium and phosphate, while broccoli thrives on calcium and nitrogen. As long as you maintain proper fertilization, these two plants can happily coexist. Consider growing the ‘Red Luna’ variety, available from Burpee, for flavorful potatoes.
Rhubarb: A Beneficial Deterrer
Rhubarb is an unexpected but helpful companion for broccoli. It deters pests like cabbage whiteflies, which can damage broccoli leaves. However, it’s essential to maintain sufficient spacing between rhubarb and broccoli to prevent overcrowding. ‘Victoria’ rhubarb is a popular variety that you can grow from seeds available at Burpee.
Rosemary: Pest Repellent
If you’re looking for a low-maintenance herb that can repel pests from your broccoli, consider planting rosemary. It is believed to discourage cabbage moths and cabbage loopers, which can damage broccoli leaves and crowns. Additionally, rosemary may help keep slugs and snails at bay. You can find rosemary seeds at Eden Brothers.
Shallots: Flavorful Companions
Shallots are an excellent alternative to onions, providing a milder flavor and smaller sizes that reduce waste. Like celery, chamomile, and other companions, shallots are said to enhance the taste of broccoli. ‘Holland Red’ seed shallots are available from Burpee and can be easily grown next to your broccoli.
Spinach: Shade Protection
If you’ve experienced spinach bolting too quickly in the hot sun, consider planting it next to your broccoli. The massive leaves of broccoli provide much-needed shade to your spinach, preventing premature bolting. ‘Viroflay’ spinach is a popular variety to try, and seeds can be found at Eden Brothers.
While these nine plants make excellent companions for broccoli, there are a few combinations to avoid. It’s best not to plant other Brassicas nearby, as they have similar nutrient needs and attract the same pests. Additionally, heavy feeders like strawberries, corn, tomatoes, peppers, and cucurbits can compete with broccoli for nutrients, hindering its growth.
Companion planting is a combination of traditional wisdom and experimentation, allowing gardeners to explore different combinations and learn from their experiences. By diversifying your garden with these companion plants, you can create a harmonious and beneficial ecosystem. So, why not give it a try in your garden this season?
Remember, you can obtain the ‘Di Cicco’ broccoli variety and explore more gardening options at Ames Farm Center. Happy companion planting!
Disclaimer: The images used in this article are from the original source, and the Ames Farm Center hyperlink leads to Ames Farm Center.