There are twenty-nine (29) good and thirteen (13) bad companion plants for Swiss chard in this list. Also explained below are reasons why they are or are not ideal beside your plant.
Introduction to Swiss Chard and Companion Planting
Also known as beet spinach, chard, leaf beet, perpetual spinach or silverbeet, Swiss chard is a leafy green vegetable of the same species as beets. It is cultivated for its leaves and stalks which are usually cooked and eaten.
These leaf stalks are usually large in size and may be cooked differently from the leaf blade. While the leaf stalks may be white, yellow or red in color, the leaf blades of Swiss chard are usually green or reddish.
Table of Contents
Swiss chard, when cooked, contains about 93% water, 4% carbohydrates, 2% protein and trace amounts of fat. The vegetable supplies vitamins A, A equivalent, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6, B9 (folate), C, E and K to the body.
It also contains the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, sodium and zinc. It may be consumed raw in salads, stir-fried, boiled or sautéed.
Swiss chard contains lots of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals so it is a healthy addition to one’s diet. It may protect the body against several health conditions like cancer and health disease while promoting weight loss, reducing insulin resistance and decreasing blood sugar.
This plant grows well in open areas where it can receive full, direct sunlight daily or, at the very least, partial shade in the summer. Its soil should be rich in organic matter, well drained and slightly alkaline. Swiss chard should be watered regularly to ensure the soil is evenly, consistently moist.
It is prone to diseases and the infestation of several crop pests. It may be attacked by aphids, armyworms, blister beetles, cabbage loopers, cutworms, diamondback moth caterpillars, flea beetles, leafhoppers, leafminers, slugs, snails and others.
There are however several other crops which may be planted with the Swiss chard in your garden to encourage its growth, help keep pests away, attract useful insects, replenish soil nutrients and provide ground cover or shade from sunlight.
Such grouping for the purpose of sharing benefits is called companion planting. It is a tried and true method, ensuring for years that crops are grown with some other crops that help them grow healthy.
Good Companion Plants for Swiss Chard
Chives are flowering plants in the genus Allium, to which some other aromatic plants like garlic, onions and shallots also belong. They are cultivated for the edible leaves and flowers they produce, which are then used to season food.
Because chives contain sulfur, which lends them their strong odor, they are good companions for Swiss chard. They are effective at controlling pests, bacterial and fungal diseases and soil erosion.
Their stunning purplish pink flowers may also bring insects like bees, hoverflies and wasps into the garden to aid pollination while also controlling pests. Use a barrier in the soil to ensure that chives do not dominate the area.
Garlic is another flowering plant in the genus Allium, like chives, leeks, onions and shallots. It produces a pungent or sharp smelling bulb divided into cloves which is used to season food or make an oil used by spraying to deter pests.
This allium is another good companion plant for Swiss chard. Garlic produces and releases the antifungal compound known as sulfur. It keeps harmful animals away from your garden and grows very well beside your vegetable.
Garlic also produces flowers and these can attract useful insects to your garden. Such insects may move pollen grains, aiding reproduction, or feed on pests of Swiss chard.
The leek is another flowering plant within the genus Allium. It possesses a large and slender white bulb and flat dark green leaves that overlap. Like other pungent members of its family named in this article, it is used in cooking.
Leeks are very good Swiss chard companions. With their sulfur content, they can help to repel some natural predators of the vegetable, including aphids, flea beetles, deer, rabbits and other foraging rodents.
They may also improve the yield of nearby plants like Swiss chard by aiding pollination and reducing pest infestation. This is done by attracting beneficial insects to the area.
Onions are the most widely cultivated vegetables in their genus, the genus Allium. Also called bulb onions or common onions, they are close relatives of chives, garlics and scallions. The onion plant produces a sharp odor.
With an onion plant beside it, Swiss chard is protected from pests, has its flavor improved and is comfortable with the light feeder. Because onions are susceptible to attacks from onion flies, grow another pungent plant, like mint, near the pair.
Scallions or green onions in the genus Allium derived from various species in the genus Allium. They are typically milder in taste than other alliums and lack a fully developed bulb. Their hollow, tubular leaves are eaten cooked or raw as a vegetable.
Like other members of their genus, scallions are important near Swiss chard for the purpose of pest control, they may improve the flavor of your arugula and they attract various useful animals like pest predators and pollinators.
Alliums and legumes tend to be good companion as well. However, these kinds of plants do not like to grow with each other. For this reason, be careful not to plant beans and other legumes close by if you are planting Swiss chard with any allium.
Arugula, also known as rocket, is an edible annual crop in the cabbage family Brassicaceae. It is cultivated as a leaf vegetable and used in salads for its fresh, peppery and bitter flavor. It is also called colewort or roquette.
It serves as a good companion plant for Swiss chard because it has tender leaves that are attractive to flea beetles. Arugula can be used as a trap crop for these pests as they are not easily controlled using insecticides.
Also, the roots of these plants grow to different depths within the soil do they would not unnecessarily compete for space underground.
7. Bok Choy
Also referred to as pak choi or pok choi, bok choy is a variety of Chinese cabbage used for food. This type does not form heads, unlike the common cabbage. Instead, its green leaf blades fade to a lighter bulb shaped bottom.
Bok choy has shallow roots so it can grow comfortably next to Swiss chard, which has moderately deep roots. Both plants have similar growth needs and garden space can be maximized by growing these two together.
Broccoli is a flowering plant in the family Brassicaceae, the cabbage family. It has large, partly developed green flowers that make up its head, stalks and leaves which are the edible parts of the plant.
Broccoli and some other brassicas are good for Swiss chard because they naturally go well with each other without causing any harm. These plants need different nutrients for optimal growth.
Also, both broccoli and Swiss chard bear flowers. Growing them together can attract pollinators and other beneficial insects (that prey on Swiss chard pests) to that area of your garden.
9. Brussels Sprouts
Another brassica that serves as a good companion for Swiss chard is Brussels sprout. Brussels sprouts are flowering plants in the cabbage family grown for their edible buds. They are green leafy vegetables resembling very small cabbages.
Brassicas are generally likely to be compatible with Swiss chard in the garden bed. They require similar nutrients and have similar needs.
As flowering plants, both Brussels sprout and Swiss chard attract insects and animals to the garden to help with the reproductive process of pollination. However, Brussels sprouts also fix nitrogen in the soil.
Cabbage is a flowering biennial plant mostly grown as a vegetable crop for its edible and tightly packed leaves. Its leaves are layered and may be white, red or green. This is another good companion plant for Swiss chard.
It releases biotoxins that work against several soil borne pathogens. The toxins work against root knot nematodes and keep your vegetable healthy. They are also active against several weeds.
Cabbage also provides good ground cover and by doing so they help control erosion and the growth or spread of weeds. Its roots grow to shallower levels than those of Swiss chard.
Cauliflower is another flowering plant in the Brassicaceae family, cultivated for its partially developed flowers, referred to as the head or “curd”. The head is edible and mostly in the colors white, yellow, green, orange, brown or purple.
Just as some other brassicas go well with Swiss chard in the garden bed, cauliflower also makes a great companion for this vegetable. It can help with some amount of pest control while serving as ground cover.
Some brassicas inconsistently release chemical compounds called biotoxins that may be toxic to soil borne pathogens, pests and weeds. Cauliflower captures nitrogen in the soil and helps to control erosion by providing good ground cover.
Another brassica that serves as a good companion plant for Swiss chard is kale. Kale, also called leaf cabbage, is a flowering plant with edible green or purple leaves that do not form a central head. Its leaves may be eaten or ornamental.
Kale provides ground cover and aids pest control. It releases some amounts of biotoxins which may be toxic to several pathogens and pests that live in the soil.
It helps curb the problems of erosion and weeds which are some consequences of having open soil in your garden. Kale can also capture nitrogen remaining in the soil after harvest.
Kohlrabi is a cultivar of wild cabbage, also known as German turnip. This vegetable has edible leafy greens, thin stems and yellow flowers. It is nearly spherical in shape with more flesh than skin and tastes like cabbage.
This is another brassica that provides good companionship for Swiss chard. It does not compete with your Swiss chard for the same nutrients. It aids pest and disease control by releasing biotoxins into the soil and is also able to capture nitrogen within the soil.
A radish is a root vegetable also belonging to the biological family Brassicaceae, the cabbage family. Its roots are edible and so are the leafy greens atop them. They may be eaten raw, which they mostly are, or cooked.
Swiss chard grows well with radishes, which can grow and be harvested before the vegetable needs more growing space.
They provide primary ground cover for other crops nearby and aid pest control by attracting helpful or beneficial insects to prey on crop pests. By so doing, radishes help improve the health of both crops and their soils.
A turnip or white turnip is a flowering plant in the cabbage family Brassicaceae. This root vegetable is commonly grown in temperate climates worldwide for its edible, white and fleshy taproot which may be eaten raw or cooked.
Turnips are good another companion for Swiss chard. They do not take up too much space within the garden, they grow very quickly and are able to keep pests like aphids away from your garden.
It is however not advisable to plant several brassicas in one area of your garden. Planting them together attracts similar insects and pests, and it drains the soil of nutrients since most are heavy feeders. Also, adequately space whatever brassica you plant from your Swiss chard.
Alyssum is a plant with a sweet scent likened to that of honey. Its beautiful and small flowers are brightly colored, usually in any shade of white, cream, pink or light purple. It is a good companion plant for Swiss chard.
This plant draws beneficial insects to your plant while also keeping harmful ones away. It reduces the infestation of aphids by drawing in insects like ladybugs and parasitoid wasps to prey on them.
In addition, alyssum acts as good ground cover in the garden to reduce weed activity and preserve soil moisture. This way, it is able to improve the yield of your crop.
A calendula plant is any of the 15 to 20 species of annual and perennial flowering plants within the genus Calendula. They belong to the daisy family Asteraceae and serve as suitable companions for your Swiss chard.
Calendula, or pot marigolds, bear fragrant and beautiful orange flowers that draw in a number of insects to prey on common pests and aid pollination.
Some insects like hoverflies, lacewings and parasitoid wasps feed on aphids and ensure that they help with the health of your Swiss chard. Calendula may also serve as a trap crop.
Marigolds are mostly herbaceous flowering annual or perennial plants which belong to the daisy family Asteraceae. They serve as good companions for Swiss chard because of their flowers and their odor.
Their bold, colorful flowers attract certain pests to these crops so they serve as trap crops. Their pungent odor is unpleasant to rabbits and some other pests that live in the ground. They are able to repel root-knot nematodes as well.
Also known as tropaeolum, Nasturtium is a genus of close to a hundred species of annual and perennial herbs. They have showy round flowers and are used in herbal medicine, for culinary purposes or in the control of pests.
Nasturtiums repel several harmful insects like aphids with their peppery smell, serve as good ground cover, inhibit the growth of weeds, help curb erosion, serve as trap crops and do not compete with your Swiss chard.
Known also as Chinese parsley, coriander or dhania, cilantro is an annual flowering plant with edible plant parts. The fresh leaves and dried seeds of this aromatic herb are the parts most used for culinary purposes.
Cilantro is a good companion plant for Swiss chard as it
attracts pest predators to feed on insects that could attack your spinach. It helps maximize garden space, provide shade and attracts pollinators to the area.
Widely grown in Europe and Asia, dill is an annual herb in the celery family cultivated for its leaves and seeds. These may be used as herbs or as food seasoning.
It draws pest predators and beneficial insects, like hoverflies and parasitoid wasps, to the area and has deep taproots that break up the soil, reducing the chances of weed growth. Dill is a low maintenance plant that is easy to grow.
Lavender is a genus of flowering plants (Lavandula) in the mint family. These plants are most cultivated for ornamental, medicinal and culinary purposes. They are good companions for Swiss chard.
The beautiful lavender (a shade of purple) flowers of this crop attract several pollinators, especially bees. This ensures that crop yield is increased as it aids reproduction. Also, the scent of this plant is repulsive to various garden pests.
The herb marjoram may also be referred to as knotted or sweet marjoram to distinguish it from oregano. The flowering herbaceous plant belongs to the mint family Lamiaceae and has pine and citrus flavors.
Marjoram is a good companion plant for Swiss chard. It grows compactly and so hardly ever competes for space with your vegetable.
It has a pungent odor that keeps pests away and flowers that attract beneficial insects and pollinators to aid reproduction and feed on plant pests. Marjoram helps build useful chemicals in the soil too.
Mint is a genus of about sixty aromatic herbaceous flowering plants in the biological family Lamiaceae, the mint family. Most plants in this genus are perennial, with several species, cultivars and hybrids, peppermint for example.
They are good plants for Swiss chard. Their fine flowers attract beneficial insects and with their odor, they can protect Swiss chard from pests like flea beetles that would rather harm it.
Mint does this by masking the scent of Swiss chard to make it harder for pests to locate. However, mint plants tend to take over any area in which they are grown so plant them in a separate container and place that beside your Swiss chard.
25. Bush Beans
Beans are seeds of several genera of flowering plants that belong to the botanical family Fabaceae. The seeds are then boiled, fried, baked or cooked by some other method and used as vegetables for humans or animals to eat.
There are two kinds of beans: the more compact and low growing kind known as bush beans and the taller one called pole beans. To avoid blocking your plant from sunlight but receive the benefits of beans, plant bush beans.
Beans are good companion plants for Swiss chard because they help fix nitrogen in the soil, improve the quality of the yield of other plants and provide good ground cover to prevent water loss and reduce the growth of weeds. Also, their flowers attract pollinators to your garden.
A pea plant is an annual herbaceous flowering plant in the biological family Fabaceae. Also known as garden pea, the plant is cultivated in various parts of the world for its edible seeds, peas. It is not a vegetable but it is cooked as such.
It is also a legume, meaning that it helps fix nitrogen in the soil, serves as a cover crop and may be used as mulch after it is grown. Peas grow tall too but they fall back in the late spring or early summer, so they do not shade Swiss chard.
Alliums and legumes tend to be good companion plants for your Swiss chard. However, these kinds of plants do not like to grow with each other. For this reason, be careful not to plant alliums close by if you are planting Swiss chard with any legumes.
Root & Salad Vegetables
Carrots are edible root vegetables with usually orange taproots and green leaves at the top. Cultivars in white, yellow, red, purple and black also exist, with this root typically tapering. They are good companion plants for Swiss chard.
These root veggies can enhance the flavor of your vegetable and help control weeds. To avoid attacks from insects like aphids and carrot flies, grow this pair alongside plants like mint and rosemary to control pests.
Celery is a marshland plant grown to be consumed as a vegetable. Its leaves and stalks may be used in cooking but this depends on the variety and location of the plant. It is a very good companion plant for Swiss chard.
This plant has aromatic leaves that deter pests while drawing useful insects to your Swiss chard. Some of such beneficial insects include lacewings, ladybugs, parasitoid wasps and other parasites of aphids.
Celery also attracts hummingbirds. It takes up little garden space and provides some primary level of ground cover.
Lettuce is a flowering annual plant mostly cultivated for its leaves, used as a leaf vegetable. It is most often eaten in salads but may be added into other foods. Lettuce is yet another good companion plant for Swiss chard.
Unlike Swiss chard, lettuce has shallow roots. The plants, as a result, do not compete with each other for space, water or nutrients. Lettuce also serves as a very good ground cover.
Both plants may be attached by slugs, aphids, cabbage loopers, cutworms, flea beetles and leaf miners. You may add another pungent plant like mint to help further control pests.
Bad Companion Plants for Swiss Chard
One bad companion plant for Swiss chard is the cucumber. Cucumber is a creeping vine plant considered an annual crop. The plant produces mostly cylindrical green fruits used in cooking as vegetables, usually eaten raw or pickled.
Like other flowering plants in the family Cucurbitaceae, this one is a heavy feeder with vines that could spread wildly, compete with your plant for water and sunlight, and take up too much space.
Cultivating Swiss chard beside such a competitive plant does not produce great results and it may not survive, leading to malnourishment and consequently, poor yield.
Melons are the various plants of the family Cucurbitaceae, the gourd family. These flowering plants produce sweet, edible, and fleshy fruit. Both the plants and their fruits are referred to as melons.
Swiss chard does not grow well near melons as melons are bad companion plants for Swiss chard. Melons can seriously compete with your vegetable for nutrients, sunlight and space, resulting in poor produce.
Melons especially struggle for sunlight with Swiss chard. They have large leaves that can shade out your vegetable and lead to impaired growth.
Pumpkins are cultivars of winter squash (fruits of plants in the genus Cucurbita that have hard rinds, mature in winter and may be stored for several months) that are round in shape and ribbed on their skin. They have deep yellow to orange skin and inside, they contain seeds and pulp.
These plants are not good companions for Swiss chard as they sprawl in search of sunlight and quickly overtake other plants close by, shading them too much in the process. This crop is a heavy feeder too.
For these reasons, pumpkins can take up too much nutrients, water and space from your Swiss chard when they are grown together.
Squashes are herbaceous vegetables in the Cucurbitaceae family, the gourd family. This genus comprises many different species grown to be consumed as vegetables. They are also very bad companion plants for your Swiss chard.
These plants need constant water supply in order to grow and maximize yield. They also enjoy full sunlight for about 6 hours daily to develop properly. Like other cucurbits, squashes are heavy feeders.
Growing squashes and Swiss chard in the same area results in unhealthy, avoidable competition. Keep them away from each other to ensure Swiss chard grows properly.
The vining plant called zucchini is also referred to as baby marrow or courgette. It is a summer squash, a herb grown for its fruits which are harvested when they still have immature seeds and soft rinds that are edible.
It belongs to the cucurbit family Cucurbitaceae. The trailing vines of this plant may cover and choke out your Swiss chard while competing with it for nutrients, space and sunlight if they are planted together.
Beets are flowering plants in the family Amaranthaceae that produce an edible and usually deep red taproot known as beetroot. Their leaves, called beet greens, may be eaten as vegetables. They are bad companion plants for Swiss chard.
Like Swiss chard, beets belong to the genus Chenopodium, which consists of plants known collectively as goosefoots. Although these plants have differences in nutrient needs and seem compatible, do not plant them together.
This is because they are susceptible to attacks from similar pests and disease-causing agents. Growing them together is not ideal for their health.
Spinach is a flowering plant in Amaranthaceae, the amaranth family. Its green leaves are edible and commonly eaten as a vegetable either raw or after preservation. Spinach is another bad companion plant for Swiss chard.
Spinach also belongs to the goosefoot genus Chenopodium, like Swiss chard. Avoid planting these plants near each other as they attract the same pests and could easily impair their health.
8. Black Walnuts
Also known as eastern American black walnut (because it is native to the riparian zones of North America), black walnut is a species of deciduous trees in the walnut family. It is grown for its distinctive, alluring taste, used for both timber and food.
It is not ideal to grow black walnut trees with Swiss chard. This is because the black walnut releases a chemical into the soil. This compound, called juglone, can prevent your Swiss chard and other plants from reaching their full potential. It may slow their growth down or stop it entirely.
Corn or maize is a species of monocotyledonous flowering plants in the grass family Poaceae or Gramineae. Its leafy stalk produces separate inflorescences known as ears. When fertilized, these ears yield fruits, which are the seeds.
This is another bad companion plant for Swiss chard. Avoid planting corn and spinach together as these plants do not get along well with each other when planted in close proximity. Corn plants are tall and may shade your Swiss chard.
10. Pole Beans
Pole beans, runner beans, butter beans, scarlet runner beans or multiflora beans are flowering plants in the pea or legume family Fabaceae. They are grown both as food plants and as ornamental plants.
Despite the fact that pole beans are leguminous plants and legumes are beneficial to the soil (by converting atmospheric nitrogen into forms that plants can easily absorb), do not plant them with your Swiss chard.
Unlike peas that die back in the later parts of spring or early summer, pole beans are only beginning to grow at that point so they may end up shading out your Swiss chard too much.
Potatoes are perennial root vegetables belonging to the family of nightshades known as Solanaceae. They are starchy tubers with their vegetative and fruiting parts toxic for human consumption (because they contain a toxin solanine).
They are bad companion plants for Swiss chard. It is believed that potatoes take up too much nitrogen within the soil and can inconvenience your Swiss chard, so avoid planting these two crops in close proximity.
Potatoes have deep roots while Swiss chard has only fairly deep roots. They might compete with each other for nutrients or space and then begin to inconvenience each other. They also attract some common pests.
Some of such pests that both potatoes and Swiss chard get attacked by include aphids, flea beetles, spider mites, mice and other rodents. Each of them should be cultivated beside other crops that can help protect them against pest activities.
A sunflower is any species of annual and perennial plants that belong to the genus Helianthus in the family Asteraceae, the daisy family. They bear flowers which have large heads, dark disk florets and flamboyant yellow rays.
Unless you are growing dwarf varieties, do not plant sunflowers with your Swiss chard in the garden. Sunflowers, like their name suggests, are sun-loving plants. The taller varieties can deprive your vegetable of sunlight.
Sunflowers are also said to produce some chemicals which can affect nearby plants adversely. These chemicals are known as allelochemicals, and they make sunflowers allelopathic to several other crops.
Tomatoes are South American plants of the nightshade family Solanum. They produce a widely grown mildly acidic fruit also known as tomato, with many varieties. Tomatoes are a glossy red or yellow color, pulpy and edible, eaten raw or cooked.
Yet another very bad companion plant for Swiss chard is tomato. The tomato is a heavy feeder. It needs a lot of water, nutrients and care for the best results. Placing these two crops beside each other makes them compete for nutrients.
A competition for nutrients will result in one or both of the plants being stunted. The crops are not allowed to grow and produce to their full potential. So for the best results, keep tomatoes and Swiss chard far apart.
What can you not plant next to Swiss chard?
Some crops that you should not plant next to Swiss chard are beets, black walnuts, corn, cucumbers, melons, pole beans, potatoes, pumpkins, spinach, squashes, sunflowers, tomatoes and zucchini.
What is a good companion for Swiss chard?
There are several good companions for Swiss chard in the garden. Generally, alliums (like chives, garlic, leeks, onions and scallions), brassicas (like arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, radishes and turnips), flowers (such as alyssum, calendula, marigolds and nasturtiums), herbs (like cilantro, dill, lavender, marjoram and mint), legumes (including bush beans and peas) and vegetables (such as carrots, celery and lettuce) are good companion plants for Swiss chard.
Are kale and Swiss chard companion plants?
Yes, kale and Swiss chard are very good companion plants for each other. Swiss chard and many brassicas grow very well when planted near each other in the garden. Some of such brassicas include arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprout, cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi, radish and turnip.
Can you plant swiss chard with strawberries?
Yes, Swiss chard and strawberries can be planted together. This is due to their complementary growth habits, with Swiss chard growing vertically and strawberries spreading horizontally, reducing competition for space and nutrients.
Can i plant swiss chard with carrots?
Yes, Swiss chard can be planted with carrots. These two plants complement each other well as they have different root depths, reducing competition for nutrients and space in the soil.
What is the best companion for chard?
The best companion for chard includes plants like beans, brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.), onions, and carrots.
Can you plant Swiss chard with basil?
Yes, Swiss chard can be planted with basil. These two plants have different growth habits and needs, so they do not typically compete for space or nutrients. Additionally, basil can help deter certain pests that might otherwise harm Swiss chard.
How far apart should you plant Swiss chard?
Swiss chard should be planted approximately 6 to 12 inches apart in rows that are 18 to 24 inches apart. This allows enough space for each plant to grow and flourish without crowding each other, and it helps ensure each plant has sufficient access to nutrients and water in the soil.
Swiss chard is a leafy green vegetable in the amaranth family Amaranthaceae of the same species as beets. Listed and explained above are twenty-nine (29) good and thirteen (13) bad companion plants for Swiss chard.
When cooked and unsalted, Swiss chard contains about 92.65% water, 4.13% carbohydrates, 1.88% protein and trace amounts of fat. This vegetable is also very rich in vitamins and minerals.
It provides the body with vitamins vitamins A, A equivalent, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6, B9 (folate), C, E and K, and the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, sodium and zinc.
Some health benefits of incorporating Swiss chard into one’s diet include provision of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals, protection against several health conditions like cancer and health disease, promotion of weight loss, reduction of insulin resistance and decrease in blood sugar.
While growing Swiss chard, remember that it needs exposure to full sun for the best or optimal results. Its soil must also be well drained, consistently moist and rich in organic matter. It should have a slightly alkaline pH and consistent, even levels of moisture.
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