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Planning, planting and growing a vegetable garden does not require that you know everything there is to know about vegetables but it does help to know the various families and groups of vegetables as there are some general rules which apply to each family and how they get along with each other.
Historically, the art of understanding plant relationships, known as companion planting vegetables, goes back centuries.
Knowing the vegetable families you will know without thinking about it too much who needs a male and female flower to pollinate, who adds nitrogen to the soil, who is related to whom and in general how they get along (or don’t) with each other. You may not remember all member of all families, but you will know, for example, if it is a squash or a melon or a gourd that it is a member of the cucurbits family and that means it doesn’t like those guys over in the potato patch. Interestingly, fennel, the crotchety old bachelor uncle, is the uncle of carrot, one of the sweet maidens of the vegetable garden who can go in just about anywhere and add benefit to her neighbors.  So, just like people, you cannot judge a family by only one of its members.
Dill, another cousin of Fennel, is the only plant that can grow next to it without falling deathly ill and passing on to the great beyond. The chart below is as near to complete a list of the vegetables in their proper families as possible, based on compiling several sources we have been using over the years so no one is left out. Note that most lists are incomplete, as they are created for the purpose of advising on crop rotation by family among different vegetable beds each year.  This way each family returns to their starting bed once every four years.
Because this is why most people make the list, they leave out the perennials (perennials do not get rotated as they stay put and continue to grow from one year to the next), while most of the major vegetable family members are annuals and so must be replanted each year. The plant families in this chart include some of the perennials not found in other charts.  Our feeling is it is helpful to know who is related to whom, and even if they are not being rotated, the relationships are useful to be aware of.
All the members of this family prefer fertile soil, and good mulching is essential to keeping them cool and moist. In many areas the cabbage family is grown as a spring and fall crop, planting before the last frost in Spring and again in August or September for an after-frost harvest.
While it may seem wild to figure out how this family is related when it comes to planting and culture, they all do consistently require good sunny locations and fertile soil with lots of organic matter and consistent watering.  They are also all susceptible to varying degrees to root disturbance and so are either best direct seeded or transplanted no more than four weeks after starting so as to ensure roots have not outgrown their starter pot and can be slipped into the garden without disturbance to the roots. Artichokes are a warm weather perennial vegetable and may not do well in hard cold climates although they can be overwintered in cooler zones by cutting back large arms in fall and covering with leaves, straw or other dry bedding piled up all around and tied in place with loose fence boards or by placing an inverted bushel basket over the top.
Regular watering especially during early growth and as vines blossom and set fruit is essential.
When thinning, cut to remove excess plants rather than pulling up to avoid disturbing neighboring roots. All of the members of this family except for potatoes should be started as seedlings indoors or in greenhouses starting 8 to 10 weeks before the last frost date. Support is critical for all members of this family as well: tomatoes, eggplants and peppers need good support to hold heavy fruit. Most members of this family produce their edible portion underground and so need a loose, deep, well-drained and fertile soil to thrive. Proper thinning is essential for good production of the below ground crops, and thinning can be done by pulling young plants for early harvest.  Celery and celeriac can be pre-seeded in the greenhouse or indoors, but must be transplanted out before becoming rootbound. While this family may be considered one of the most important in human food crop development, most of its members, with the exception of corn, will not be found in the home vegetable garden.


All members of this family are wind-pollinated and generally require a minimum area of ten square feet of planting to achieve proper pollination. Growing tomatoes in containers offers a convenient way to get around soil born tomato pests and achieve healthy tomatoes in spite of these challenges. Bring to a boil and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the carrots and potatoes start to soften. Now add in your parsley, thyme, beef brisket stock and the meat.  Before you add in the meat you will want to shred it and take any big chunks of fat off. Use these free images for your websites, art projects, reports, and Powerpoint presentations! Some members of the family are just shunned by everyone, even when the rest of the family gets along fine with lots of other families. Favorite perennials are rhubarb, asparagus, sorrel, artichoke and okra (in warmer southern climates).
There are definite affinities between perennial herbs and vegetables, and for many gardeners this means that some plants that might be rotated are not when their perennial herb partners are fixed and other beneficial perennials are there to help support them. They are greedy for their space and will provide poor crops if too crowded, yielding small heads and stunting. Transplants planted before soil is warm will rot.  Large melons or other large fruit members of this family can be trellised to save space but the large fruits must be supported to avoid breaking off before mature. Allowing these plants to dry out and wilt during fruit set or early fruit growth can result in stunted bitter fruits. This family, when grown in close proximity, can cross-pollinate prolifically among its subgroup members. Peas and fava beans are early cool crops and can be planted as soon as the ground can be worked, with many gardeners starting peas well before the last frost date. Harvest peas frequently to generate more peas, and harvest beans as soon as they mature to get continued crops.
Tomatoes may be started a few weeks later, but if started early and growing leggy, simply plant deeper so the stalk is submerged to leave only the crown of the plant above ground. Better to over-support than under-support as heavy fruits will not only fall but break the plant branches which hold them. Parsnips, celery and celeriac require a long growing season and parsnips sweeten with the colder weather.
Most of its members are heavy nitrogen feeders, which means they benefit from planting after earlier or cover-croppings of the bean and pea family.
It does very well when inter-planted with runner beans that will provide additional nitrogen.
Plenty of people who grow tomatoes in the garden run into issues with tomato wilt, nematodes and other problems. Not only will you have soup in under thirty minutes, but it will cost you pennies for the pot!


New and innovative gardening approaches have recently rediscovered and begun expanding and documenting this useful ancient practice.
But if you want to rotate crops specifically and in the four-bed four-year cycle now you have a complete list to guide you. Tomatoes and asparagus, parsley, rosemary and mint all work together this way, and the basil (another helper herb for tomato) is planted with the tomatoes each year.
Succession plantings of peas every two weeks in a morning sun location can provide peas all season. Potatoes are supported by the hilling up of soil and organic matter around the plants to block sun and hold branches in place as potatoes set.
Carrots, parsley, dill, cilantro, fennel, and chervil being the cool weather members, are the first to plant, usually six to eight weeks before the last frost.
Because they capture nitrogen in their early growth, members such as barley, rye, and winter wheat make very good early-spring or late-autumn cover crops in  vegetable gardens. Assuming you have a cool winter and a moist cooler garden spot available in summer, rhubarb is a perfect tasty perennial to add to your garden. These plants need regular watering when germinating so water every day if it does not rain.
In order for the nitrogen to be captured for the garden, they must be cut and either mulched or gently worked into the soil at approximately half maturity. I have the equivalent with venison right now–a leftover roast with its stock plus carrots, potatoes, and onions.
Most onion pest problems can be avoided with lots of organic matter and very well-draining loose loamy sandy soil in the vegetable beds. While cucumbers and melons will not cross with the squashes; pumpkins, gourds and squashes have been known to cross.
All members of this family need good full sun at least six to eight hours a day and well fertilized soil. Read more about cross pollination in the cucurbit family. Seed saving for this family in home gardens is not recommended. Powdery mildew can develop in shade, too much wet, especially on leaves late in the day, or in high humidity. Remove any severely damaged leaves, spray with a mix of 1 part milk, 1 part baking soda and 10 parts water to kill mildew.



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