HomesteadSavvy.com is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site we may earn a commission.
Over the last 10 years or so I have been growing fruit and vegetables for my family. During that time I have found myself moving further away from using chemicals and artificial fertilizers and moving toward more natural, organic methods of gardening.
Growing one plant in close proximity to another with the aim of improving the yield of one or both crops is known as companion planting, and it is a fundamental part of organic gardening.
If you are interested in organic gardening, you may find yourself wondering if green beans can be grown next to tomatoes. In this article, I address the pros and cons based on my years of experience with companion planting.
Can I Grow Green Beans Next To Tomatoes?
Yes, green beans can be grown next to tomatoes. Green Beans have the ability to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere on their roots, and the roots of the tomato plants can tap into that supply of fixed nitrogen to improve their own growth rate.
OUR LATEST VIDEOS
In my experience, tomatoes grown in close proximity to green beans are stronger, healthier-looking plants.
A secondary benefit of growing Green Beans next to tomatoes is the beans, which are typically grown up canes or poles, will provide some shade to the tomato plants, potentially protecting the fruits from the sun, and preventing the ground immediately around the tomato plants from drying out.
Tomatoes also require a consistent amount of water each day to prevent the fruit from swelling too quickly.
By growing tomatoes with Green Beans, the beans, which require watering less frequently, will take advantage of the moisture in the soil from the tomatoes, reducing the amount of watering the beans require.
How to grow green Beans next to tomatoes?
In my own vegetable plot, I will typically plant a 10′ (3m) row of tomatoes followed by a 10′ (3m) row of Green Beans.
I usually leave a 3′ (0.9m) space between each row to allow me to walk between the rows of crops for harvesting.
Sometimes I will create a row of canes and string and intersperse my Green Beans with tomato plants. This technique does yield good results, but I often find the tomatoes themselves get buried under the bean foliage, and do not ripen properly.
Benefits of Growing Green Beans Next to Tomatoes
In my experience, there are many benefits both to the tomato plants and the Green Beans.
The first major advantage is fertilizer. As mentioned above, Green Beans, being a member of the legume family, have the ability to fix and store nitrogen on their roots. This store of nitrogen can be tapped into by the tomatoes, which typically need a fairly high amount of nitrogen.
The Green Beans also seem to benefit a great deal from the tomato fertilizer many of us use to feed our tomato plants once they start flowering.
Reduced watering is the next advantage gained by planting these two crops in close proximity. Tomato plants require consistent watering through their growing season, especially when the fruits are developing. If tomato plants are watered inconsistently, the fruits may end up splitting.
When beans are grown close to the tomato plants, they take advantage of the regular watering the tomato plants receive.
Green Beans require far less water, and they will be happy surviving on the excess from the tomato plants. This reduces the amount of water used overall.
Another, far less understood advantage is scent. Tomato plants are fairly pungent. The foliage gives off a strong smell, especially when the leaves are rubbed or damaged.
Green Beans are vulnerable to attack from aphids. The smell of the tomato plant foliage often confuses the aphids, making them less likely to discover and attack your Green Beans.
The downside of growing beans next to tomatoes
The only real downside I have come across using this style of companion planting is that the beans, which grow tall and thick, can sometimes shade out the tomatoes.
Tomatoes do need a lot of sun to fully ripen, and a wall of Green beans can sometimes prevent that from happening.
What Other Plants Can Grow Next To Green Beans
There are many other companion plant combinations that work well with Green Beans. I have listed some of the ones I like best below.
Corn grows tall, strong stems that can reach 8′ (2.4m) high. These stems make ideal climbing supports for climbing green beans. Growing these two plants together, sometimes along with squash, is a classic example of companion planting.
On my own vegetable plot, when I grow Green Beans up the stems of my corn, I will usually get the corn growing first, allowing it to grow for 5 or 6 weeks before I plant the Green Beans. That way, the corn will have a strong, thick stem before the Green Beans start to grow up them.
As discussed above, Green Beans are susceptible to attack from aphids. Aphids find the Green Beans by the scent of the bean foliage.
Planting a couple of rows of Nasturtium flowers between your rows of Green Beans will help protect the Green Beans as aphids seem to prefer the Nasturtium flowers.
When I employed this technique in the past, which is known as growing a sacrificial crop, I found I ended up with Nasturtiums that were all but destroyed by the aphids, but Green Beans that were lush, heavy with beans, and untouched by the aphids.
Potatoes and Green Beans is another classic combination. Potatoes are said to help repel Mexican Bean Beetles which can attack the Green Beans.
In return, Green Beans are said to repel Colorado Potato Beetles which can and frequently do attack potato crops.
Growing potatoes and Green Beans together is not something I do on a regular basis, purely because of the way my homestead is set up, but I know a number of others who use this combination religiously, to great effect.
Growing Green Beans next to tomatoes is a classic way for two crops to benefit one another.
The Green Beans will benefit from the scent given off by the tomatoes, hopefully keeping the aphids at bay, whilst the tomatoes will benefit from the shade provided by the Green Beans.
Both crops will benefit from the water one another plant is given.