I’m champing at the bit to get started on my heirloom and heritage seed based veggie garden. Given the local area’s climate and poor soil, every drop of water counts and every ounce of compost is precious, so I’ll need to be especially careful in how I go about this.
Did you know that planting certain types of vegetables close to each other can improve their chances of survival and help them thrive? On the flip side, planting certain crops close together can be detrimental to one or both type of plants’ development.
The concept is called companion planting, an important aspect of permaculture. It’s also a way to keep pests at bay if you wish to have a pesticide and herbicide free veggie garden. Some species you can plant to act as “sacrificial lambs” of sorts to keep pests away from more sensitive crops.
Legumes, which include peas and beans are able to extract nitrogen from the atmosphere and with the help of bacteria, transfer this to the soil for the benefit of other plants without that capablity. Tall garden vegetable plants can also help shelter smaller, more delicate veggies.
Planting too much of one crop in a small space also tends to hammer the soil of certain nutrients, so mixing crops in together helps to maintain a balance and can provide additional protection if one species suffers through infestation.
Companion planting is fascinating; and thankfully it doesn’t have to be trial and error, there’s a ton of resources on the web on the topic.
Here’s a nice round up of what vegetables your should or shouldn’t plant together.