Companion plants for pumpkins

Pumpkin Growing Companions: Learn About Companion Planting With Pumpkins

Plants that grow well with pumpkins are good pumpkin companion plants. Planting a pumpkin with companion plants isn’t intended to combat vegetable loneliness, but rather to help it grow better either because companions meet the pumpkin plant’s needs in some way, or because the companions keep pumpkin pests away.

If you are planting pumpkins in your garden, it pays you to learn something about companion planting with pumpkins. Read on for more information about plants that grow well with pumpkins.

Pumpkin Growing Companions

The first time you hear about pumpkin companion plants, you may feel confused about what companion planting means and how it can aid in the garden. Companion planting with pumpkins or other vegetables involves grouping together garden plants that help each other to grow.

Plants may be classified as good companions in the garden if they attract beneficial insects like pollinators into the area. Certain herbs and flowers attract beneficial insects, such as:

  • Thyme
  • Sage
  • Mint
  • Cosmos
  • Lavender

Other plants contain substances in their roots or foliage that repel insect pests. The strong odor of some plants, like garlic and onion, can disguise the odor of plants like roses, keeping insect pests away.

Companion Planting with Pumpkins

A variety of plants work well as pumpkin growing companions either because they help the pumpkin plant stay healthy and productive, or because the pumpkin plants aid them in some way, or both. One typical example of companion planting with pumpkins is interspersing corn, beans and pumpkins in the same bed. The beans can use the cornstalks as support structures to climb up, while the massed foliage of pumpkins keeps down the weeds. Melon and squash are also beneficial as pumpkin companion plants.

Some plants that grow well with pumpkins are beneficial because they enhance the vegetable’s flavor. Marjoram, if used as one of the pumpkin growing companions, is said to produce better tasting pumpkins. Nasturtiums keep bugs and beetles away. Marigold, oregano and dill all repel destructive insects, like the dreaded squash bug.

Plants to Exclude as Pumpkin Growing Companions

Not every plant will be good for companion planting with pumpkins. Intercropping the wrong species can cause your pumpkins growing problems. For example, experts tell gardeners not to plant pumpkin near potatoes.

Cornell University

The Three Sisters | A Legend | Diversity | How to Plant the Three Sisters | Activities | Information | Evaluation

Experience a Haudenosaunee Garden

In this section you will learn how to plant the Three Sisters according to Haudenosaunee custom. You have already learned many new things about corn and her two sisters and about Haudenosaunee gardening. Now you can try this planting system yourself and recreate an ancient (and modern) practice.

Be aware that this system may provide some unexpected results. Interplanting without the addition of fertilizer may result in a decreased yield. The site may become more crowded than you’re accustomed to when you grow single plantings. It may seem awkward at first to work around plants that have grown so closely together, especially if you are used to tidy wide rows. Feel free to adapt the spacing if necessary. Most importantly, enjoy this exercise as an investigation into Native American culture.

As they begin planting, Haudenosaunee direct their thoughts to the elements that help plants grow. What are the elements that make your garden thrive? As you prepare your garden in the Haudenosaunee tradition, you may want to consider and appreciate these elements as well.

How to Plant the Three Sisters

Before you Plant:

1. Conduct a soil test, and prepare the garden site. Add compost or other materials such as peat moss or manure to the soil. This will improve the soil structure and add nutrients. If you have grown a green manure cover crop such as winter rye, turn it under two to three weeks before planting.

Planting:

2. Plant corn in late May. It is best if the ground has warmed and is no longer cold and wet. Haudenosaunee tradition holds that planting begins when the leaves of a dogwood are the size of a squirrel’s ear.

Soak corn seeds for several hours, but not more than eight hours, before planting. (Soaked seed may dry out quickly, so keep the seeds well watered for the first week or two if the soil is not kept moist by rain showers.)

Prepare low hills that are 3 to 4 feet apart within and between the rows. Place five to seven corn seeds, evenly spaced to a depth of I to I ‘/2 inches. Cover with soil.

There are many corn varieties to choose from. Dent, flint, and flour corns are especially suited to this system, while popcorn often does not get tall enough and may be overwhelmed by the beans and pumpkins. If you care to follow Haudenosaunee custom, plant the seeds with kind thoughts three days before the full moon.

Maintaining:

3. After young corn plants come up, begin removing weeds. As you are weeding, gently mound, or hill, the soil around the young plants.

4. When the corn plants are about 6 inches high, pole beans and pumpkins can be planted around the corn plants. Genuine Cornfield or Scarlet Runner bean and Connecticut Field or Small Sugar pumpkins are heirloom, non-hybrid varieties that are readily available, yet “authentic” crops for your project.

After thoroughly weeding, plant four or five bean seeds in each hill. Plant four or five pumpkin seeds in every seventh hill, placing them around the young corn plants. (Planting pumpkins in every hill would quickly overwhelm your site with viney growth)

5. Your plants will need water each week. If it does not rain at least an inch per week, the planting will need to be irrigated. If you are using presoaked seed, remember to water more frequently at first.

6. Most of the nitrogen converted by the beans will nor be available to the corn and pumpkins the first year; the bean roots have to break down to release nitrogen. Corn is a heavy nitrogen feeder, so sidedressing with fertilizer is necessary to achieve satisfactory yields. You can use manure. compost, or commercial fertilizer.

Pollination:

7. If you are hoping to keep a variety pure–for example, an heirloom variety of corn you will need to isolate the corn from other varieties. If isolation is not possible, you need to hand pollinate. This is a challenge, but it is fun to experiment to see what results you can get.

To hand pollinate, place waxed paper lunch bags over the newly forming silks to keep out unwanted pollen. When the plants are tasseled 2 inches out, remove the bags briefly and shake the desired pollen on the silks, then replace the bags. Your desired pollen may be that of the same variety.

If you are experimenting with crosses, however, the pollen must come from another variety. You can use brown paper lunch bags to collect pollen from the tassels of the desired variety. Be sure to keep track of which plants you have hand pollinated so you can compare them with those that have cross-pollinated.

Harvesting & Storage

The Three Sisters

8. Harvest and store your corn, beans. and pumpkins with care. When the corn husks are dry, pick the ears and spread them out in a dry place, To prevent mold, do not store the ears when they are first harvested. If you plan to grind the corn. let it dry for several weeks. If you plan to save seed, choose seed from your most vigorous, uniform plants from the center of the ear.

After you have shelled the kernels, keep them in a cool, dry place in covered containers or plastic bag. Following Haudenosaunee tradition, do not let a single kernel go to waste! You can harvest your beans when they are green or after the pods have shriveled and dried. Pick pumpkins when their color changes.

Use:

9. Try cooking a new food from the corn, such as hominy or succotash. Save the husks to make baskets or dolls. Weave a basket; create a corn mosaic. Use the plants to decorate your mailbox, a flagpole, or a tree trunk. Compost the remaining plant material. At the end of the season, have a harvest festival, Celebrate Thanksgiving with the fruits of your labor and appreciate your rich American heritage.

As our Spring crops are gradually going in, we’re making space for some sister action to take place, all three of them – corn, pumpkin and beans – together like they should be.

These three plants are a guild of plants traditionally grown in Native Amerrican agriculture. Dating back to around 5000 years, it is so successful, it’s now on of the most popular “pin ups” for companion planting around the whole world. The symbiotic relationship between these three plants is particularly wonderful, here’s how it all works.

Image from here

Traditionally grown on a market garden scale, a large amount of diverse food is harvested from a relatively small space. Image from here

Structurally, the corn does what it does best, and grows tall and straight providing the perfect climbing pole for beans to grow up. The beans provide nitrogen to the soil, being heavy feeders, both the corn and pumpkin lap this up for their own use. Meanwhile the squash (generally a type of pumpkin) sprawls in and around the base of these two plants acting as a living mulch with its big, shady leaves. It also helps suppress or slow the growth of weeds due to this pattern of growth.

Apparently corn lacks the amino acids lysine and tryptophan, which the human body needs to make proteins and niacin, but beans contain both and therefore corn and beans together provide a balanced diet. And of course, if one of the crops fail (due to pest or disease) it is ‘backed up’ by another two – so you never go hungry, clever.

If you take a look of each of these plant’s root profiles you’ll notice they all have different root ball shapes where they inhabit different levels of soil meaning they’re not competing for nutrients. So clever, so sophisticated. Image from here.

A smaller three sisters patch. Image from here.

The other great thing about this guild (there are many) is that you can plant it on any scale, so even if you have a small urban garden (like we do) you can still have a productive patch in a relatively small space. We’ve allocated a garden bed roughly 5m x 3m which will include around 16 corn and bean plants and two sprawling pumpkin plants. However we’ve also planted it in smaller beds like the one shown above.

The startings of our three sister garden, still inside – but not for much longer.

Being in a cool temperate climate, we’re yet to establish this year’s three sisters garden outside, but we thought we’d get a head start and get the corn and pumpkins going inside first. They’ll be moving outside in the next week where we’ll direct sew the beans at the base of each corn plant. When you’re planting this guild, be sure to give the corn a head start as the beans grow so fast they’ll quickly catch up to the height of the corn. If you’re in a warmer climate, you can direct sew all three seeds at the same time straight into your garden area, they’ll all go gang busters. Where ever you are, make sure your soil has LOTS of food i.e. manure, compost, as corn and pumpkin are hungry plants and require healthy, nutritious soil to thrive.

To see and learn more about the three sisters, you can watch this short video I helped make back in 2010 about companion planting that features this mighty fine guild, plus a couple of other combinations and related gardening tips.

Utilising companion planting in your urban garden or small farm is a clever approach to getting the most of the area your working with and maximising the benefits for both you, your soil and the plants. Get into it!

Plants that grow well with pumpkins are great pumpkin friend plants. Planting a pumpkin with partner plants isn’t intended to battle vegetable dejection, but instead to enable it to develop better either because friends address the pumpkin plant’s needs somehow, or because they keep pumpkin bugs away. If you are planting pumpkins in your garden, you can learn something about companion planting with pumpkins.

Pumpkin growing companions

The first time you hear about pumpkin companion plants, you may feel confounded about what that means and how it can help in the garden. Partner planting with pumpkins or different vegetables includes gathering together garden plants that help each other to develop. Plants might be classified great buddies in the garden if they draw in advantageous insects like pollinators into the area. Certain herbs and flowers draw in useful insects, for example: thyme, sage, mint, cosmos, lavender….

Different plants contain substances in their roots or foliage that repulse pests. The strong smell of some plants, such as garlic and onion, can camouflage the scent of plants like roses, keeping insect pests away.

Companion planting with pumpkins

A variety of plants work well as pumpkin growing companions either because they help the pumpkin plant stay healthy and productive, or because the pumpkin plants aid them in some way, or both. One typical example of companion planting with pumpkins is interspersing corn, beans and pumpkins in the same bed.

The beans can use the cornstalks as support structures to climb up, while the massed foliage of pumpkins keeps down the weeds. Melon and squash are also beneficial as pumpkin companion plants. Some plants that grow well with pumpkins are beneficial because they enhance the vegetable’s flavor.

Marjoram, if used as one of the pumpkin growing companions, is said to produce better tasting pumpkins. Nasturtiums keep bugs and beetles away. Marigold, oregano and dill all repel destructive insects, like the dreaded squash bug.

See also: 14 plants that should never be grown together in the garden

Plants that shouldn’t be grown with pumpkins

Intercropping the wrong species can cause your pumpkins growing problems. For example, experts tell gardeners not to plant pumpkin near potatoes.

Source: www.gardeningknowhow.com

Pumpkins and Companion Planting

Because lack of pollination is a primary reason for poor yield, GardenZeus recommends encouraging bees to visit your pumpkins by planting borage, nasturtiums, rosemary, oregano, and other heat-tolerant, bee-attracting herbs and plants nearby. Allowing vegetables like radishes and carrots to flower and persist in your garden through spring and summer may also attract bees and help with squash pollination.

Avoid planting root crops, such as beets, onions, and potatoes, near pumpkins, which may disturb sensitive pumpkin roots when harvested.

The main concern with companion planting for pumpkins is that with the vigorous growth, long vines, and sprawling habit of many varieties, pumpkin plants may simply overwhelm, cover, and starve other plants by blocking sunlight. Vining pumpkins are generally not recommended for interplanting. Pumpkins can be successfully grown with tall or large columnar plants, such as sunflowers, amaranth, and giant corn.

The Three Sisters is a traditional Native American agricultural grouping that includes corn, beans, and squash. Will this combination work with pumpkins in your garden? See Three Sisters Companion Planting Combination for California.

To view customized instructions for growing pumpkin in your area, go to GardenZeus and enter your zip code, then go to pumpkin.

Companion Planting Pumpkins

Intercropping Pumpkin

“Companion Planting is the growing together of all those elements and beings that encourage life and growth; the creation of a microcosm that includes vegetables, fruits, trees, bushes, wheat, flowers, weeds, birds, soil, microorganisms, water, nutrients, insects, toads, spiders, and chickens.” – John Jeavons, How to Grow More Vegetables Than You Ever Thought Possible

Pumpkins are related to gourds and squash, this family includes vine crops: summer and winter squash, pumpkin, melons and cucumber.

Corn

It’s advisable to plant crops which react favorably to decomposition of organic matter from preceding crops after one which produces coarse organic decomposing material. Sweet corn produces coarse refuse that doe’s not easily decompose. Vine crops such as Pumpkin accelerate decomposition of the crop refuse from corn.

Corn when companion-planted with squash or pumpkin is said to disorient certain insects pests and protect the vining crop . In reciprocation, pumpkins prickly vines are said to discourage raccoons and some rodent pests from chowing down on the sweet corn.

I don’t have much of a raccoon problem anymore {my 2 German shepherds handled that issue very nicely } but a few years back – I did , my corn was unmolested – whether it was due to this planting scheme or just dumb luck I can’t say for certain.

Companion Planting for Vegetables

The age-old practice of companion planting is based on the theory that certain plants can either enhance, or in some cases inhibit, the growth of others.

Scientists have tested some of this folk wisdom and have found this type of interplanting to be beneficial in several ways. Some plants repel or at least confuse insects pests while others attract beneficial insects that aid pollination or attack the bad bugs. Some plants supply additional nutrients to the soil that affect the growth and flavor of their companion or simply provide them with shade.

Three Sisters Planting: Squash, Corn, and Beans

Native Americans have long used the method of companion planting called the Three Sisters which groups pole beans, corn, and pumpkins or squash. The pole beans replace the nitrogen the corn consumes while using the cornstalks for support. The corn shades the squash or pumpkins whose prickly vines smother weeds and deter animal predators from feasting on the corn and beans. Here are some other companions at work:

Garden Plants: Good Neighbors and Bad

  • Basil is said to enhance the flavor of tomatoes while repelling insects and disease. It is also good to plant with peppers, oregano, and asparagus but keep it away from sage.
  • Beans & peas will enhance the growth of many plants including brassicas, carrots, corn, cukes, eggplant, lettuce, radishes, and strawberries. Summer savory supposedly repels bean beetles and improves the growth and flavor of beans. Growing onions with beans or peas is a bad combination though since they will stunt each others growth.
  • Beets grow well with bush beans, brassicas, lettuce, and onions. Garlic improves the flavor and growth of beets.
  • Borage is a storehouse of minerals and its flowers attract beneficial pollinators and parasitic wasps. It is said to increase the pest and disease resistance of any plant growing next to it.
  • Brassicas grow best when planted with bush beans, beets, dill, onions, potatoes, marigolds, and nasturtiums but do not like growing near strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, or eggplant.
  • Carrots are good neighbors when planted near beans, letuce, onions, and peas. They don’t like growing near potatoes, brassicas, or dill.
  • Cucumbers grow well with beans, peas, corn, lettuce, onions, marigolds, sunflowers, and nasturtiums, but they should not be grown near potatoes. Planting radishes in each cucumber hill is said to repel or at least confuse cucumber beetles and they are also good for repelling flea beetles. Let the radishes flower to attract beneficial insects.
  • Fennel exudes a substance that is capable of inhibiting the growth of nearby plants. Only dill can stand up to it.
  • Lettuce grows well with beans, beets, carrots, cukes, onions, strawberries, and radishes. Do not grow lettuce with brassicas or parsley. If slugs are eating your lettuce try planting mint to repel them.
  • Lovage is reputed to enhance the growth and flavor of whatever is planted near it.
  • Onions and other alliums like chives, garlic, leeks, and shallots protect a wide range of plants including roses but do not plant them near beans, peas, or asparagus.
  • Parsley is a good companion for tomatoes, asparagus, roses, and carrots.
  • Peppers, both hot and sweet, like to be grown with basil and onions.
  • Tomato growth can be enhanced if grown with onions, basil, parsley, marigolds, and nasturtiums. If planted with brassicas neither plant will do well. Do not plant tomatoes with potatoes since both are susceptible to late blight.

Bear in mind that to have a real effect companion plants need to be grown in sufficient quantity. One summer savory plant at each end of a row of beans isn’t going to be as effective as interspersing them throughout the row and along each side.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with companion planting and let us know what works for you!

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