Are you familiar with companion planting? It's one of the foundations of creating working ecosystems when it comes to permaculture. We can group plants together when planning and planting our growing spaces to help crops deter pests/disease, mine nutrients from the soil, and attract pollinators. The result is a higher crop yield, less human intervention by way of fertilizing and pest control, and maximizing garden space.
These concepts can be applied to small spaces--even container gardens--to large environments like orchards. It's about getting away from mono-culture (planting rows upon rows of corn for example) and planting many things together, called poly-culture.
You can find my companion plant systems for my fruiting trees in my highlights on Instagram. These are called Guilds and Guilds 2. But for containers, raised beds or in-ground garden systems, here's some helpful companion plant combinations I use.
Plant lettuce, carrots, radish underneath and around
Plant broccoli and cauliflower between rows of garlic and/or sage to deter cabbage moths. Crimson clover acts a great living mulch to attract predatory insects to feed on those cabbage moth larvae also.
Surround with radishes to deter cucumber beetles
Sow 2-3 nasturtium seeds around each seedling after sprouting to deter squash bugs/borers
Marigolds and Calendula
Use around borders to attract beneficial pollinators and deter rabbits
Interplant garlic around roses to deter fungal diseases (some folks say it also encourages a stronger fragrance from the rose blossoms!)
Peas give nitrogen to the soil so are great for heavy-feeding plants like tomatoes, corn, peppers, eggplant, and even potatoes
Interplant with mint to deter pests. Also interplant with borage to attract pollinators and enhance berry sweetness.
There are LOADS of studied and proven plant relationships out there. You can find tons of information online, in books and in science journal articles.
Angela is the farmer and content creator behind Axe & Root Homestead LLC. This historic six-acre permaculture farm is home to two Clydesdale horses, ten honeybee hives, five sheep, two guardian dogs, barn cats and a flock of 40 geese and ducks. The farm produces maple syrup, fruit from a small orchard and loads of garden produce for consumption, preservation and donation to the local food pantry.
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