By Rachel Crow
Cucumber companion planting can help you to get the most out of your homegrown crop of these popular salad vegetables. Homegrown cucumbers are without doubt the tastiest, and can make the world of difference to the flavor of a salad or sandwich.
Companion planting cucumbers is the simple process of growing them next to different herbs, flowers or vegetables that are known to benefit them as they grow.
See: Companion planting – your ultimate guide
Whether you choose to grow yours in a greenhouse, or a warm, sheltered spot outdoors, companion planting cucumbers will help.
Sow cucumber seeds indoors from April if you intend to grow them in an unheated greenhouse or outdoors, and at the same time plan what you will be companion planting them with.
Most cucumbers will be ready to harvest within a couple of months, so you will quickly see the fruits of your planning and forward thinking.
See: Small vegetable garden ideas – from layout designs to the best crops to grow
What is a good companion plant for cucumbers
By growing a community of mutually beneficial plants you can make the most of companion planting.
Benefits cucumber companion planting may have include deterring pests that would otherwise attack the young cucumber plants, improving soil nutrients available to the vegetable plant, or helping to increase harvests.
Rob Smith, Horti Expert at Dobies recommends companion planting as 'a great way to deter hungry insects from feasting on your crops, while being totally natural and organic.
'It's better for the environment, too, by allowing mother nature to keep the balance in your garden. By planning and gardening smart you can grow a community of mutually beneficial plants so your crops can thrive and avoids the use of harmful pesticides,' Rob adds.
See: Kitchen garden ideas – 10 easy ways to get started
Cucumber companion planting can also entice essential pollinators, such as bees and butterflies to the vegetable plants, or create a better growing environment - be this providing essential shade during the hottest months, acting as ground cover to keep in moisture, or breaking up the soil.
Cucumber companion planting – with vegetables
Cucumber companion planting with different vegetables can have a range of benefits
PEAS and BEANS 'are helpful, due to their root systems. They add nitrogen to the soil, which the cucumbers in turn will benefit from,' says Rob Smith.
CARROTS, PARSNIPS, RADISHES and ONIONS are good choice for cucumber companion planting as they do not encroach on each other's territory. The root vegetables primarily grow beneath the soil, whereas cucumbers send down one larger tap root and also a few shallow roots that don't extend far. This means the roots of the cucumber will not interfere with those of the companions, and vice versa.
See: Onion companion planting – the best plants to grow alongside onions
CORN can act a support for smaller varieties of cucumbers to grow up, so making the most efficient use of space. The cucumbers will also luxuriate in the shade provided by the taller plants, believes Chris Smith of Pennard Plants. Corn further adds beneficial nitrogen to the soil.
Cucumber companion planting – with herbs
Herbs also play their part when it comes to cucumber companion planting.
OREGANO deters insects with its essential oils that act as a repellant for many insects.
'DILL acts by attracting predatory insects - such as wasps - which will help rid your plot of those unwanted pests,' says Rob Smith of Dobies.
Dill also attracts beneficial pollinators, which help to pollinate cucumber plants - and you can never have enough pollinators in an organic garden!
CHIVES are an excellent choice for cucumber companion planting as the oniony aroma deters the cucumber beetle that will feast off the leaves, flowers and fruit of your salad vegetable.
Cucumber companion planting – with flowers
MARIGOLDS repel a wide variety of pests, including aphids — a common pest on cucumber leaves.
Another popular and pretty choice for cucumber companion planting are NASTURTIUMS, which attract aphids. While this may seem counterintuitive, ‘they are often used as a sacrificial plant so aphids and and black fly attack them but stay away from your vegetables,' says Emma O’Neill of Garden Organic.
The tall stalks of SUNFLOWERS both provide supports for the cucumber vines to grow up, and also help shade the plants in the hot summer sun.
What can you not plant near cucumbers?
Be careful with some aromatic herbs for cucumber companion planting, such as SAGE and MINT, which have a very strong scent and flavor and may affect the flavor of your cucumbers.
POTATOES will compete heavily with cucumbers for water and nutrients, which will have a detrimental impact on the harvest, while cucumbers also encourage potato blight, so the two should be kept far apart from each other.
See: How to grow potatoes – a step-by-step guide
It is considered a good idea not to companion plant cucumbers next to PUMPKINS or SQUASH as the gourds attract similar insect enemies. Planting too many close together will be like offering up a buffet style banquet to these pests.
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