Companion Planting Concepts
The idea behind companion planting is that all plants exude chemicals through their roots, leaves and stems. In some cases – as with walnuts – these chemicals can actually inhibit the growth of nearby plants. In others, they may deter insect pests such as soil nematodes. Plants that don’t make good companions might compete with or shade chard, or the chard may expand into their space.
Maturity Dates Matter
Chard can get fairly large at maturity, especially if you want it to winter over so you can save seed. Companion plants mustn’t be too small or they can be crowded out. However, you can choose companions that will mature after the chard is ready; harvestingthe chard leaves space for them to grow on. To repel nematodes, plant marigolds a full year before the chard.
Chard and Cole Crops
Chard does particularly well with two different plant families. In the cole or brassica family, plant chard with:
- Brussels Sprouts
- Chinese Cabbage
- Bok Choy
In the onion family, plant chard with:
Beans and Chard
The bean family is another group that offers good companions for chard. The chard grows considerably taller than bush beans, but it is usually ready to harvest before the beans are ready. Simply remove the chard to give more space to the beans. Beans also add nitrogen to the soil and don’t compete with chard for nutrients. Chard can grow with some shade; plant on the shady side of a pole bean trellis.
Herbs and Chard
Although many herbs are well-known for their insect-repelling qualities, unfortunately chard doesn’t get along with most of them. The one exception is anything in the mint family, which does pair well with chard. You can get around this dislike by putting a chard companion next to the herb. For example, you could plant tomatoes next to the chard and basil next to the tomatoes.
Swiss Chard Dislikes
Just as you don’t get along with all neighbors, chard has a few it prefers not to associate with. Potatoes, corn, cucumber and melons don’t make good companion plants for chard. Corn will compete for nutrients and make it too shady. Cucurbits like melon and cucumbers may attract beetles that also like to nibble on chard leaves.