Simply put, companion planting means maximizing the symbiotic and chemical relationships between plants.
How exactly does companion planting work, and what are some of the benefits?
- Companions help each other grow, i.e. tall plants providing shade for shorter plants that are sensitive to sun
- Using a small amount of gardening space more effectively. Vining plants that cover the ground can be planted below plants that grow vertically
- Using companion plants to either repel pests or lure pests away from what they are planted with
- Attracting beneficial insects that prey on destructive pests
Organic gardeners have been practicing companion planting (or inter-cropping) for most of recorded history, its benefits have not been scientifically documented until recently. The fact is, they work.
This is a technique of organic gardening where two or more plants are grown close to each other so that they may provide perks to each other in some way. One plant may discourage a certain disease or pest while another may aid the flavor or enhance the growth of it’s neighbor. It could be the aroma of a companion plant’s flowers or foliage and it could be the soil activity it produces. Legumes (for instance) add nitrogen to the soil lowering the amount of actual “fertilizing” one has to do.
Many know that marigolds are great to grow around tomatoes, pumpkins, squash, and potatoes, but do you know why? Marigolds produce thiopene. Thiopene repels nematodes, so wouldn’t it make sense to plant marigolds around root crops that are prone to attack by nematodes? Science has a name for this, allelopathy.
Some plants do better when in the company of other plants for a variety of reasons…to repel harmful insects, to attract useful insects, or to enhance the growth rate and flavor of other plants.Companion planting helps bring a balanced eco-system to your garden. Every garden is different with different problems. All problems will not be eliminated, but it is definitely worth experimenting.The next page lists plants with their "good" companions which enhance the plants existence, and their "bad" companions that
can create adverse effects.
Intensive Planting… techniques which go ‘hand in hand’ (get it, hand in hand ha ha ha!) with Companion Gardening.
As we learn to sustain and maintain our soil with resource conserving techniques, we learn to sustain ourselves. When we design a garden with this in mind, we work with the land, and not against nature.