Mixed tomato cultivation: you get along with these neighbors
Which plants get along with tomatoes? We reveal with which neighbors you can best plant the delicious fruits together and give tips for the perfect mixed cultivation of tomatoes.
Tomatoes can be planted well in a mixed culture [Photo: Hirundo / Shutterstock.com]
A mixed culture is probably the most original form of vegetable cultivation, because different species grow together on one area. Whether in the bed, in the greenhouse or in a plant trough – different plants always come together and complement each other. This type of cultivation for tomatoes ( Lycopersicum esculentum ) not only ensures diversity on the plate, but also has very specific advantages for the plants themselves.
Advantages of mixed cultivation in tomatoes
The advantages of a mixed cultivation of tomatoes compared to a monoculture with only a single vegetable species can be seen throughout the season:
- Mixed cultures are generally more productive and significantly more diverse than individual cultures.
- The different vegetation shades the ground and protects it from drying out.
- Plants that are hungry for nutrients and those that are frugal prevent leaching of the soil.
- Good neighbors protect each other from diseases and pests.
The high-growing tomato plants are therefore best placed next to low-growing vegetables that only require small amounts of nutrients. In this way, the ground is always shaded by leaves and never dries out completely, even in midsummer. The diversity of plants also prevents insect pests and diseases from spreading unchecked. In this colorful plant society there are always members who are shunned by pests. Some even produce substances that can deter and drive away pests. This includes the hot garden cress ( Lepidium sativum ), which keeps aphids and blood lice away from tomatoes. The community of convenience between tomatoes and good neighbors is a gentle way of keeping uninvited visitors away.
In addition, the different levels of vegetation protect the soil, prevent erosion from wind and heavy rain and also reduce evaporation on hot summer days. The different root systems loosen the soil at different depths and provide food for earthworms and other soil organisms after the harvest. So they serve as a source of nutrients for the next plants. But what is the best way to fertilize in a mixed culture? You can't possibly supply nutrients to each culture individually. Our tip: Organic slow-release fertilizers such as our Plantura organic tomato fertilizer are particularly suitable for fertilizing with a mixed culture. Since the nutrients are only released slowly by the organisms in the soil, even low-eating vegetables can feed on them without any problems.
Which plants do tomatoes get along with?
In mixed culture, a wide variety of plants with different needs are grown in one bed at the same time. Here – as in real life – there are neighbors who would like to live next to each other and those who tend not to. In the following we introduce you to good and bad planting partners for tomatoes. For further mixed culture combinations, we recommend our special article for the best plant combinations for mixed cultures.
Good neighbors for tomato
The tall tomatoes are ideal for planting low-growing vegetables with low nutrient requirements at their feet. Tomatoes are joined by a wide variety of salads ( Lactuca sativa ), spinach ( Spinacia oleracea ), basil ( Ocimum basilicum ), chamomile ( Matricaria chamomilla ) and parsley ( Petroselinum crispum ), often also as an early crop. This means that the herbs and vegetables are planted or sown long before the tomatoes, i.e. in March or April. Their roots loosen the soil and thus ensure a good soil condition for the later growth of the tomato plants. They shade the soil as they grow, reduce evaporation and save a lot of irrigation water, especially in summer.
Parsley ( Petroselinum crispum ) and basil ( Ocimum basilicum ) keep pesky aphids away from tomatoes with their essential oils.
Carrots ( Daucus carota ) and parsnips ( Pastinaca sativa ) also use the space under the large nightshade plants, at the same time loosening the soil with their roots and ensuring good drainage.
Garden cress ( Lepidium sativum ) and beans ( Phaseolus vulgaris ), celery ( Apium graveolens ) and most types of cabbage ( Brassica sp.) Are generally considered good neighbors for tomatoes. Onions ( Allium cepa ), leeks ( Allium ampeloprasum ) and garlic ( Allium sativum ) can be planted very well with tomatoes, because these neighbors keep white flies ( Bemisia sp.) Away above ground and can even drive the vole out of your bed underground.
The marigold ( Calendula officinalis ) also stays low, keeps the annoying nematodes away and at the same time attracts pollinators to the tomatoes with its flowers.
Salads are good neighbors for tomatoes [Photo: sanddebeautheil / Shutterstock.com]
Bad neighbors for tomatoes
However, some plants do not get along well with tomatoes, for example if they place completely different demands on the location or if they represent competition. The natural root excretions of bad neighbors let both partners grow insufficiently, sometimes even stunted growth. Even if the nightshade family generally get along well with each other, you should avoid growing tomatoes with potatoes ( Solanum tuberosum ) as much as possible. Because the latter are almost invariably attacked by late blight and brown rot ( Phytophthora infestans ) and also infect the tomatoes growing nearby.
Bad neighbors for tomatoes are also other heavy eaters who have a high need for nutrients. In the long run this leaches out the soil and the plants suffer from deficiency symptoms.
Peas ( Pisum sativum ) should also not be planted directly with tomatoes, because both suffer from root excretions and the similar space requirements. Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare ) and red cabbage ( Brassica oleracea var. Capitata f. Rubra ) are also not good neighbors for tomatoes.
Often you plant cucumbers ( Cucumis sativus ) and tomatoes together, but these plants don't get along well either – this harms both partners more than it does. Cucumbers need a completely different location than tomatoes and are quickly infected with powdery mildew, which they then transmit. In extreme cases, both species grow poorly and hardly bear fruit.
Unfortunately, tomatoes and cucumbers are not good neighbors [Photo: Valery Rybakow / Shutterstock.com]
With the right choice of plant neighbors for tomatoes, you can achieve quite a few positive effects – both for the vegetables themselves and for the soil. But not only the neighbors of the tomatoes play an important role, but also the new tenants. That is why we have compiled everything about the fruit rotation in tomatoes for you in our special article.