Complementary plantings help you maximize your space and streamline your work.
veggie garden nightshade
Credit: Amy van Luijk

Put edibles that require similar amounts of water and sunlight in the same bed or container to maximize your space and streamline your tasks. Here are some classic groupings, and a few versatile solo acts.


Tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers are all part of the nightshade family, which also includes potatoes. They like warm weather and must be planted after the danger of frost has passed. Edge the beds with herbs that thrive in similar growing conditions, like basil and parsley.

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veggie garden potatoes
Credit: Amy van Luijk


Plant seed potatoes after the soil is workable and no longer frozen in spring. To use overhead space, pair them with beans on poles or trellises.

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veggie garden three sisters
Credit: Amy van Luijk

Three Sisters

Follow the Native American farming tradition of planting the three sisters together: Corn provides a natural stalk for the beans to climb, while the beans' roots add nitrogen to the soil. The squash creates a living mulch, shading out weeds and keeping moisture in the soil.

veggie garden lettuce
Credit: Amy van Luijk


Tuck fast-growing lettuces and other salad greens into extra pockets of space throughout a garden.

veggie garden peas cucumbers
Credit: Amy van Luijk

Peas + Cucumbers

Go high: Make use of vertical space by growing peas and cucumbers up fences and trellises. Start peas as soon as you can work the soil, then add cucumbers when it has warmed up, after the last frost.

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veggie garden carrots radishes
Credit: Amy van Luijk

Carrots + Radishes

Interplant (translation: mix) these two cool-temperature-loving plants together within the same row. Radishes sprout quickly, while carrots take longer -- so when you pull up the former, you'll also help thin out the latter.

veggie garden kale chard
Credit: Amy van Luijk

Kale + Chard

Although they come from different families (kale is a brassica; chard is in the spinach family), these leafy greens cohabitate well in the same bed, and both are easy (and quick) to grow from seed. Kale prefers cool weather, while chard is less fussy.

veggie garden blooms
Credit: Amy van Luijk

Leave Room for Blooms

Plant pretty -- and edible -- calendula, marigolds, and nasturtiums among your vegetables and they will not only decorate your beds, brighten salads, and attract good bugs, but they'll also help ward off troublesome pests like nematodes, tomato hornworms, and aphids. A couple more to try: borage (the periwinkle flowers taste like cucumber) and rosemary (the buds are as tasty as the leaves).

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