Growing herbs with your tomatoes is a smart choice. Many herbs not only require minimal space to grow (both in terms of height and root coverage) but they also are easy to care for. They won’t take a ton of nutrients from your soil and they won’t compete with your tomatoes for water, sunlight, or airflow, either.
Some of the best herbs to grow with your tomatoes include:
- Lemon balm
- Dill (harvest early so its tall, bushy growth doesn’t interfere with your tomatoes)
Many of these, like basil, can help to repel disease and insects, too. Some gardeners report that basil improves the growth and flavor of your tomatoes, too.
Just about any groundcover plant can be grown with tomatoes. Many of these are also herbs, like marjoram and oregano, but you can grow any plant that grows low to the ground with tomatoes. They won’t take up much space or compete for nutrients.
Grow leaf lettuce and other leafy greens (with the exception of spinach, a heavy feeder) beneath your tomatoes. Not only will the lettuce act as a living mulch to keep the soil cooler, but it can reduce the spread of disease in the garden, too.
Plus, lettuce likes to be kept cool, so growing it in the shadow of your tomatoes is a good way to extend the amount of time before it goes to seed, too.
Many people don’t think of growing beans next to or underneath their tomato plants, but it’s actually a smart choice. Beans are not heavy nitrogen feeders, and instead, add nitrogen back to the soil. Tomatoes, on the other hand, consume heavy amounts of nitrogen. Growing these two plants together is a smart choice that will maximize the space you have a labile. Choose bush beans instead of pole beans for the best results.
Radishes love the shade, so growing radishes under tomatoes is a smart choice. Your radishes will stay cool, which can prevent them from bolting.
6. Root Vegetables
Most root vegetables grow well in the shadow of tomatoes, too. Some good options include parsnips, carrots, beets, and rutabagas. All of these crops grow best when they are exposed to soil that is high in phosphorus but not quite as high in nitrogen. When these root vegetables are provided with too much nitrogen, they produce bushy tops at the expense of their roots.
As a result, you’ll be left with small, inedible tubers.
Growing these crops beneath your tomatoes is a great way to ensure that they don’t receive too much nitrogen – but your tomatoes will love the nitrogen instead!
Flowers not only increase pollination from beneficial insects but also reduce the likelihood of pests being drawn to your tomatoes, too. Marigolds can reduce the likelihood of soil-based nematodes as well as pests that target tomatoes like hornworms and
The viola is another good choice. Violas don’t need a lot of sun and can be planted right inside the bed. Lavender, technically an herb, is a great choice, too. It forms a low-to-the-ground cover and doesn’t need a lot of nutrients or sunlight in order to be productive
One flower that many people don’t think of growing with tomatoes is the rose. Although roses can compete with tomatoes for space if both plants aren’t pruned properly, tomatoes can actually help roses in that they can protect them from a disease named black spot.
Onions are great to grow beneath tomatoes because they don’t take up a lot of space and produce minimal foliage. They won’t restrict airflow and they also don’t absorb too many of the nutrients in the soil that your tomatoes need.
Like onions, garlic also takes up minimal space and won’t compete much for nutrients. It can control late blight and also helps to repel red spider mites. Another benefit of growing garlic near tomatoes? You’ll have everything you need growing together to make a homemade spaghetti sauce!
Amaranth is a grain crop that grows surprisingly well next to tomatoes. It can help repel insects and won’t compete for space or water.
Borage grows in a fashion similar to lettuce, so you can plant it beneath your tomato plants without having to worry about it competing for space or nutrients. It can supposedly protect your plants from tomato hornworms, too. You can harvest the leaves young and enjoy them in salads.
Asparagus is another crop you can grow under your tomatoes, but you’ll have to be a bit careful about how you do it. Asparagus is a perennial, which means it will come back year after year.
You will just need to be mindful of where your plants are growing when you plant your tomato seedlings in the spring – that way, you won’t disturb the developing shoots.
Harvest the asparagus shoots young so they don’t interfere with the foliage of your tomatoes. Then, you can reap the many benefits of both.
Asparagus helps clear the soil of nematodes, which tend to be drawn to tomatoes, while tomatoes will help asparagus in return by getting rid of asparagus beetles. It’s a win-win for everyone!