Basil and tomato, when planted near each other, yield tastier crops and get less damage from insects. (Rural Development Administration)

By Kang Gahui and Kim Young Shin 

Some plant pairs are matches made in heaven.

The Rural Development Administration published its list of “companion vegetables” on April 10 to help gardeners start cultivating their kitchen plants. It’s a list of plant pairs that generate positive effects when planted next to each other.

One of the classic plant couples is tomato and basil. Tomato plants, originating from dry areas in the Andes, and basil, from the wet areas of India, may seem like opposites. However, when they are grown next to each other, they help their partner fight against insects and they both actually yield better crops.

Basil absorbs the excess water around the tomato, which helps prevent dehiscence on the fruit. Tomato plants, as well as providing more hydration, serve as sun screens for the basil, which makes the basil leaves softer and fresher.

Basil is also a good partner for cabbage, chives and bell peppers, as the plant draws away larvae, plant lice, mosquitoes and flies. When spring onions and cucumbers are planted close together so that their roots meet, the natural antibiotics of the spring onion roots help the cucumber plant prevent some diseases.

Managing a kitchen garden can be a lot easier if proper companion plants are grown together, as they help each other fight against insects and disease.

There are also plants that have poor compatibility.

Spring onions are bad companions for radishes, unripe beans and some other plants, as the organic acid from the spring onion roots can cause the roots of nearby plants to bend. Eggplants, burdocks and okra, with similar types of more or less straight roots, can take away each other’s nutrients, too.

The Rural Development Administration provides the useful book for kitchen gardeners at its online Agricultural Science Library (http://lib.rda.go.kr/eng/main.do).