Gardening is a very useful activity, which connects people with nature. This connection is very important and is increasingly lacking in people because it relieves them of stress, keeps them physically active and helps them enjoy the amazing taste of home-made products.
Growing fruits and vegetables is a lot easier than many people think, and many do it for fun but also for good. To achieve better results in gardening, companion planting is needed, as it is the best way to increase the fertility of your garden.
This technique requires planting two or more plants together because they are mutually beneficial, but it also determines which plants to separate, as certain plants will compete for the same nutrients.
Many agricultural people are aware that some plants and plant families “socialize” with others and grow together. This method of companion planting has been practiced for centuries and has been taught over many trials and errors.
In North America, there is a very well known example of this method called the Three Sisters: Beans, Corn, and Zucchini.
This effective trinity is based on the use of the other two types, and here is how it all works:
- Corn serves as a support for the growth of beans
- Beans have the ability to extract nitrogen from the ground, needed by everyone, and by leaning on the corn stalks, they hold all three plants together
- Zucchini leaves have a dual role, provide shade (soil is cold and moist) and protect the garden from pests such as rabbits and raccoons
Even though the three sisters play a different role each, they all keep the garden healthy.
One of the basic principles of companion planting is that all plants need protection from pests and insects, some need support, others shade, and some require certain nutrients.
Another successful example of symbiosis is the trio: spinach, beans and radishes. Here are the benefits of this trio:
– Rhizobia (a bacterium) found in beans, absorbs nitrogen from the air and turns it into a useful substance for other plants.
– Mycorrhizae is a fungus in the root system of radish, which has the ability to enhance the absorption of nutrients.
By providing shade and protecting it from pests and insects, both radishes and beans support the growth of spinach and increase its nutrient availability.
On the other hand, there are plants that should never be planted together, such as tomatoes with any member of the cucurbit family, including cucumbers. Therefore, they should be planted with carrots and basil, which will allow them to grow more vigorously.
Here are a few more pairs of plants that don’t go together: tomatoes and potatoes, beans and peppers, lettuce and broccoli, and peas and onions.
Experienced farmers recommend planting flowers with vegetables, such as marigolds and nasturtiums, which attract useful pollinators, they will enhance fruit combinations on zucchini and melons, cucumbers, peas, and tomatoes.
Many have a habit of planting their vegetables in neat rows with labels, which is not the case in nature. So while it may not look neat, it would be wise to mimic nature’s biodiversity and try to grow more plants together, which would help them grow better. Plants grown in polyculture are stronger, more resistant and less prone to disease or insect loss.
Gardeners can have numerous advantages if apply companion planting, such as:
Protecting the delicate plants from harsh weather conditions
- Lowering the risk of losing the entire yield
Attracting beneficial insects to the garden
- Protecting the garden from insects and pests
According to Nan Fischer, the founder of the Taos NM Seed Exchange, “Aside from the benefits to your plants, companion planting uses your garden space more efficiently, letting you harvest more. The diversity that companion planting provides is also good for pollinators, wildlife, and soil health.”
It is useful to let your plants take care of each other!