Companion Planting: Let your garden work for you
April 5, 2012
Let’s face it. We as a culture are busy, often overworked and pulled in too many directions. But on top of this, we are faced with the need to become more sustainable, waste less, produce more local food and keep pesticide and fertilizers to a minimum. Thankfully these two problems are not mutually exclusive and this conundrum can be solved with efficient, integrated gardening and farming methods. When we look at our plants as part of a whole, we are able to create thriving mini-ecosystems that have beneficial interrelationships. The more we mimic Earth’s natural processes, the less we need to work at it.
For example, companion planting is a fabulous way to maximize your garden time, space and material purchases. Why you may ask? John Jenson defines companion planting as the constructive use of plant and habitat interrelationships — from your trees to your nutrients to your insects to your plants. In most cases, a plant can have a positive or adversary reaction to other plants, nutrients and processes. To give you an idea, green beans and strawberries actually do better together than when alone, and you can grow sow thistle and lettuce in a very small space because of the deep rooting system of the thistle and short rooting system of the lettuce.
In other words, you let your family of plants work together so you get to work less.
To get you started, we’ve listed the primary techniques in companion planting for you to apply to your own yard or garden.
- increase the health of plants
- rotate crops to maximize biomass produced and soil fertility
- improve plant and soil nutrition
- match physical characteristics
- utilize weed, insect and animal relationships
For more resources:
- John Jeavons, Author of How To Grow More Vegetables
- Seeds of Change.com
- Mother Earth News
By Erin Munning