Just like humans, some plants like to be together, while others genuinely dislike each other’s company. And, just like humans, the reasons for these affinities are incompatibilities are varied.
Some plants repels the pests that affect others; some shed leaves or fruit that others thrive on; larger plants provide shade or protection for smaller ones and many pairings simply combine their qualities to brilliant effect.
Take, for example, a flowering plant. It will attract bees and other insects which will pollinate its flowers, but another set of flowers makes that much more likely – especially if they’re of a different colour. And, as you can’t have a fruit without a flower, it makes sense for kitchen gardeners to encourage beautiful blooms.
Any plants that are close together will compete for basic nutrients, so you need to be sure they get plenty of fertiliser – but you can also ensure they compete differently. Carrots, for example, get their nutrients from deep in the soil, while radishes get the goodness from a much shallower layer.
Onions and garlic shouldn’t be planted anywhere near beans and peas, for example, while tomatoes and potatoes should also be kept apart. The reasons for this aren’t well known, but generations of gardeners have noted them.
Thyme repels cabbage butterflies, while chives and garlic are unattractive to greenfly. Oregano is perhaps the best overall insect repellent you can have in a garden. You can plant herbs such as these among tomatoes and pepper plants, and they’ll all help each other thrive – as well as providing you with the perfect pizza topping.
Never forget that, on Lanzarote, larger, tougher plants can often give the protection from the wind or sun required for a smaller, more delicate plant to survive. And as water is naturally scarce here, it makes sense to garden vertically, allowing water to trickle down from higher to lower plants – this is the secret of terrace farming.