Companion planting is a very old useful alternative to mainstream gardening. It is a way of planting certain plants with each other so that they compliment each other while they grow. Some plants naturally help others grow stronger, such as beans planted with corn. This planting technique allows the corn to be used by the beans as a sturdy pole to climb. In turn the beans give to the corn much needed nitrogen. Companion planting is the organic gardeners favorite technique, mainly because another part of companion planting is planting certain plants with each other that naturally deter insects.
One such plant that is very useful all over your garden is the marigold. Insects do not like the scent of marigold so it becomes a natural deterrent. If you plant marigold all over the garden in mass groups, insects will steer clear of the crops near the marigolds. There are many techniques that one can learn when studying up on companion planting. One of the most famous is called the three sisters. In this method you plant beans, corn and squash together and they all are told to compliment one another. In fact, this is an ole Iroquois Indian tradition and it is said that the three sisters are inseparable and will remain together for life.
Native American farming societies, say the three sisters planting method is a sophisticated, sustainable system that provided long-term soil fertility and a healthy diet to generations, today, it is still in affect in many home gardens! To break it down, the corn provides the beans a place to climb, the beans provide the corn with nitrogen and the squash shades it all at the ground keeping the ground cooler and moist longer so that the three thrive and grow better. You can learn more about the history and folklore of the three sisters here. In order to do this right: Corn must be planted in more than one row rather than one long row to ensure proper pollination. Plant pole beans or runner beans and some squash or pumpkin types with running vines, instead of a compact bush.
For a more in-depth look at companion planting, Mother Earth News has a very detailed guide that is worth downloading and saving. Such things as tomatoes planted near cabbage usually works to repel cabbage worms. And basil planted with most any garden plant, in the same ground, will improve the flavor of all vegetables and will also help the growth of all plants. Basil, is a natural mosquito repellent and if much basil is planted in the garden, when you are in the garden, you won't have as much problem with mosquitoes eating you up as you work.