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Companion Plants for Kale and Collards: The Ultimate Guide

companion plants for kale and collards

Kale and collards are some of the healthiest and most nutrient-dense vegetables you can grow in your garden. They are rich in vitamins A, C, and K, as well as minerals like calcium, iron, and potassium. However, these leafy greens can be susceptible to pests and disease if not grown in the right conditions. That's where companion planting comes in! By planting certain crops alongside kale and collards, you can naturally repel pests and promote healthy growth. In this guide, we'll explore the best companion plants for kale and collards, and how to grow them together for a thriving garden.

The Best Companion Plants for Kale and Collards

1. Beets

Beets make an excellent companion plant for kale and collards because they are shallow-rooted and do not compete for nutrients with the deeper-rooted brassicas. In addition, beet leaves contain oxalic acid, which can help deter pests such as aphids and flea beetles. Plant beets at least 12 inches away from kale and collards to avoid crowding.

2. Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums are a great companion plant for kale and collards because they attract beneficial insects such as ladybugs and lacewings, which prey on pests like aphids and caterpillars. In addition, nasturtiums have a peppery flavor that can help deter pests from eating your brassicas. Plant nasturtiums around the edges of your garden beds or in pots near your kale and collards.

3. Beans

Beans are a nitrogen-fixing crop, which means they convert atmospheric nitrogen into a form that is usable by plants. This can help improve the soil quality and nutrient levels around your kale and collards. In addition, beans provide shade and wind protection for brassicas, which can help prevent wilting during hot, dry weather. Plant beans at least 18 inches away from kale and collards to avoid competition for sunlight.

4. Radishes

Radishes are a fast-growing crop that can help break up compacted soil around your kale and collards. In addition, radish leaves contain sulfur compounds that can repel pests such as cabbage moths and flea beetles. Plant radishes in between rows of kale and collards or in pots near your brassicas.

5. Dill

Dill is a versatile herb that can be grown as a companion plant for many different crops, including kale and collards. Dill leaves and flowers attract beneficial insects such as ladybugs and parasitic wasps, which prey on pests like aphids and caterpillars. In addition, dill has a strong scent that can help mask the smell of brassicas, which can attract pests. Plant dill at least 12 inches away from kale and collards to avoid crowding.

How to Grow Companion Plants for Kale and Collards

1. Choose the Right Location

When planting kale and collards with companion plants, it's important to choose a location that receives at least six hours of sunlight per day and has well-draining soil. Avoid planting brassicas in areas that are prone to flooding or standing water, as this can lead to root rot and other diseases.

2. Plan Your Garden Layout

Before planting, plan out your garden layout to ensure that each crop has enough space and sunlight to thrive. Consider using raised beds or containers to make the most of limited space. When planting companion plants, be sure to space them out according to their individual needs to avoid overcrowding.

3. Use Organic Pest Control Methods

Even with companion plants, kale and collards can still be susceptible to pests and disease. To keep your garden healthy and free of harmful chemicals, use organic pest control methods such as handpicking insects, introducing beneficial insects, and using natural sprays like neem oil.

4. Provide Adequate Water and Nutrients

Kale and collards require regular watering and nutrient-rich soil to grow properly. Make sure to water your plants deeply at least once a week, and fertilize with a balanced organic fertilizer every four to six weeks during the growing season.

FAQs

1. How close should I plant my companion plants to my kale and collards?

It's best to plant companion plants at least 12 inches away from kale and collards to avoid overcrowding and competition for nutrients.

2. Can I grow other brassicas with kale and collards?

Yes, you can grow other brassicas such as broccoli and cauliflower alongside kale and collards. Just be sure to space them out adequately and provide enough nutrients and water for all the plants to thrive.

3. Do I need to use pesticides on my kale and collards if I'm using companion planting?

While companion planting can help deter pests, it may not completely eliminate the need for pesticides. If you notice signs of pest damage on your plants, try using organic pest control methods first before resorting to chemical sprays.

4. Can I grow companion plants indoors?

Yes, many companion plants can be grown indoors in pots or containers. Just be sure to provide enough sunlight and nutrients for each plant to thrive.

5. Are there any companion plants that should not be grown with kale and collards?

Avoid planting kale and collards near other brassicas like Brussels sprouts and kohlrabi, as they can attract similar pests and diseases and compete for nutrients.

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