What is companion planting? In short, some plants grow fine alongside others, some have negative effects, while others can have beneficial effects. Learning the ins and out of which plants grow well together can make the difference between a productive garden and a suck garden.
Below is a companion planting chart and six good reasons to use companion planting techniques in your garden.
–Thank you Afristar Foundation for the excellent poster.
Six Good Reasons To Use Companion Planting Techniques:
1. Increase Your Odds – If you grow more varieties of plants in one area you’ll increase your odds if one crop dies out.
2. Protective Helper Plants – If you plant plants on different levels vertically, they can provide assistance to each other. For example, some plants can protect the soil, while other plants can act as a trellis for climbing plants. Meanwhile, the climbing plants can give shade for another crop that needs it. With vertical space efficiently used, the overall yield of a garden area will increase.
One example of this would be the “tres hermanas” or “three sisters” style of planting. Indigenous people of central america have used this thousands year old technique to plant corn, squash and beans all together. The beans would climb the corn, the squash would shade the ground and hold in moisture, meanwhile all three would produce food. I suggest a similar technique for growing winged beans in their database entry.
3. Wind Breaks – Some plants can be grown in a line or circle around more delicate plants to provide protection from the wind. Any bushy or thick plant can make a good windbreak, but in a survival garden, I suggest planting something that has dual purpose. For example, we use lemon grass and pigeon peas in some areas as wind breaks. Both grow quickly and have benefits of their own. Lemon grass, a useful tea and spice is also known to repel insects. Pigeon peas provide high protein food and also can be used as trellises for climbing plants.
4. Attract Beneficial Insects – Some companion plants may help prevent undesirable insects or pathogenic fungi from damaging the crop through chemical means. Some plants actually recruit predatory insects that are beneficial. According to Oregon State University, plants that produce large amounts of nectar or pollen in a vegetable gardens may help encourage higher populations of beneficial insects that control pests. The reason is, some beneficial predatory insects only consume pests in their larval form and are nectar or pollen feeders as adults.
5. Smell Confusion – Insects, like humans use their sense of smell to recognize tasty food. Some strongly scented plants can confuse or distract their olfactory system and keep them away from your veggies. We use various herbs and varieties of Spanish Thyme planted among our veggie beds. It seems to work well in our garden. However, we have yet to find any plant that deters iguanas.
6. Monoculture Sucks –
One issue with monoculture farming and gardening is pests that are attracted to one species have all they can eat and easily hop from plant to plant like an all you can eat buffet. If there isn’t a good variety of plants, then the area will not promote a healthy ecosystem of predatory insects. This is one reason that following nature’s lead and planting a variety of plants together drops or eliminates pesticide use.