Varied planted beds or containers not only look great, the colorful variety also offers a number of benefits if you pay attention to which plants you combine with each other. Since the choice of plants is so wide, we present particularly well-matched plant teams.
Dream team in the vegetable patch
Tomatoes and spinach may not have that many similarities on the outside, but they are a great match because of their similar care requirements. The selection of tomato varieties is large: from very small plants to tall plants, there is everything, even hanging tomatoes. In principle, spinach is compatible with any tomato, but some tips refer mainly to normal tall varieties that grow upright, for example, our Bloomify tomatoes Tim and Thomas. Snack tomato Sally, unfortunately, remains too small and grows too bushy to provide enough space for spinach. But smaller varieties don’t have to miss out on being good neighbors, as they are great planted together with herbs like basil or parsley.
The care in brief:
|likes it sunny and warm high water requirement annual high nutrient requirement (heavy grower) needs a protected, but still airy location (do not plant too densely)||likes sunny to semi-shady high water requirement annual to biennial moderate nutrient requirement (medium grower)|
Tomato & Spinach- the advantages of the neighborhood
Tomatoes are either grown from seed on the windowsill or purchased as young plants and planted outside only from mid-May. At this time there is no longer a threat of night frosts and the young tomatoes can grow well. They need quite large tubs or a lot of space in the bed. It would be a pity if these locations remained unused until May.
Spinach can take up space in the bed or tub some time before the tomatoes. Early varieties are sown as early as March. In conjunction with tomatoes, such an early culture is excellent. Sown in the spring, spinach has plenty of time to grow vigorously until the tomatoes arrive and can have the sunlight all to itself. However, it’s still low enough not to shade the young sun-hungry tomato plants as new neighbors. As they grow taller, you won’t have to worry about spinach, because it thrives in partial shade. On hot summer days, the shade from the tomatoes is even really good for it.
By the way, you can find seeds for spinach in our Bloomify Vegetable Seed Box.
Growth height: perfectly coordinated
This brings us to the next advantage: tomato plants and spinach are a perfect match in terms of their growth heights. The spinach has plenty of room under the tomatoes, especially when the lower shoots and leaves are gradually removed from them so that the plant can put more energy into its delicious red fruits.
The root systems also complement each other well. Tomatoes develop quite extensive roots that reach deep into the soil to seek water and nutrients there as well. Spinach, on the other hand, tends to root shallowly. By getting a head start on growth, spinach roots also already loosen the soil somewhat, which tomatoes welcome.
In addition, planting spinach ensures that the soil around the tomato plant is not “bare”. Watering water can be absorbed better due to the good rooting and the moisture does not evaporate as quickly.
Similar water requirements
Tomatoes are very thirsty plants, especially in mid-summer. Spinach also loves moist soil. If spinach is not watered adequately, it shoots quickly. This means that it will form inflorescences. Its leaves should then not be harvested, as they taste more bitter and contain more nitrates. Nitrate, consumed in high quantities, can be harmful to health. However, if the spinach is allowed to live with the tomatoes, which are regularly supplied with plenty of water, the risk of this is low.
Wilting spinach leaves are a good warning sign that it’s time to water. Tomatoes can still help themselves to deeper layers of soil with their roots, so they won’t show a lack of water until later.
Remember, tomatoes don’t like it at all when their leaves get wet. Spinach will gladly take a refreshing shower, as long as its leaves can dry out again during the day.
No competition for nutrients
Tomatoes are high feeders and therefore need a lot of nutrients, while spinach is a medium feeder and is happy with less. This goes well together, but a small problem still arises. It is inconvenient to already fill the tubs with nutrient-rich potting soil for the tomatoes, or to amend the soil in the bed with compost, if you want to sow spinach first. There is a risk that the spinach will be overfertilized and as a result will store the nitrogen from the soil as nitrate. Therefore, it makes sense to add fertilizer to the tomatoes only when they are actually planted. To do this, you can add compost or slow-release fertilizer to the planting hole and the tomatoes will grow beautifully.
You can also prevent overfertilization by using fertilizers that have a balanced ratio of nutrients – compost and most organic slow-release fertilizers do. Another advantage of organic fertilizers is that they release nutrients much more slowly than mineral fertilizers.
We have an extra spinach tip: harvest it best in the evening, because the sunshine during the day ensures that less nitrate can accumulate in the leaves. This means that nothing stands in the way of tomatoes and spinach being good neighbors.
Who else fits?
Tomatoes get along well with many neighboring plants. In principle, they also get along well with strong eaters from the same plant family such as peppers and chili, but then they must be supplied with sufficient nutrients. Often these plants are grown together because they have the same requirements for their location. In any case, make sure that they are not too dense to make it difficult for diseases or pests to spread. In no case should you plant tomatoes next to potatoes, as they are a veritable breeding ground for late blight and infect the tomato plants with it.
It is better for tomatoes to have less hungry neighbors, i.e. medium and weak growers. Carrots and kohlrabi, for example, are a good fit, but root a bit deeper than spinach. Great neighbors are also lettuces, both head lettuces and pick lettuces, and onion plants.
Also great with tomatoes are basil or flowering plants like marigolds. The particular advantage is that both attract pollinators for the tomatoes through their flowers. In addition, Tagetes keeps away harmful nematodes in the soil. Basil has the fragrant advantage that its essential oils scare away pesky pests like whiteflies. These love warm, humid summers and are particularly fond of infesting greenhouse plants. They cavort on the undersides of leaves and suck out the sap of the plants, which can severely damage them. Likewise, their excretions increase the risk of fungal infections.
It is often reported that tomatoes taste spicier when basil grows next door. The herb is said to release substances through the roots, which the tomato in turn absorbs. Whether this is really true or only the impression is created, since you also always have a wonderful basil scent in the nose during the tomato harvest, we have yet to test for ourselves!
It doesn’t matter whether you deliberately plant your garden in mixed culture or in some other way: It is always good to know which plants go particularly well together. This makes gardening much easier and you can enjoy a lush and healthy garden.
When it comes to planning your bed or container plants, and you want to grow in mixed culture, there are also a few things to consider in terms of crop rotation. If you are not yet familiar with these topics, you can find everything you need to know in the articles “Crop rotation: what’s behind it?” and “Mixed culture: what’s it all about?
I have 30 years of experience and i started this website to see if i could try and share my knowledge to help you.
With a degree a Horticulture BSc (Hons)
I have worked as a horticulture specialist lead gardener, garden landscaper, and of course i am a hobby gardener at home in my own garden.
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