|Thursday Techniques: Companion Planting|
|Written by Heleigh Bostwick Thursday, 02 August 2012|
Companion planting became popular during the organic farming movement in the 1970s even though it has been practiced by some Native American cultures for centuries. Companion planting is all about beneficial plant associations. In other words planting a specific mix of flowers, herbs, or vegetables in proximity to each other in order to achieve a mutually beneficial result such as higher crop yields or pest management.
There are several types of companion planting methods including symbiotic nitrogen fixation, chemical pest suppression, trap cropping, and spacial interaction, where a vertical plant such as corn is planted next to a climbing plant such as pole beans for instance.
An example of symbiotic nitrogen fixation is planting beans, which are legumes and fix nitrogen from the air adding it to the soil, next to corn and other vegetables that require larger amounts of nitrogen to grow. Marigolds planted among the vegetables secrete a biochemical substance from their roots that kills nematodes in the soil. Nasturtiums are often planted near cabbage plants so the moths will lay their eggs in the nasturtiums, which they prefer, and not the cabbages. This type of companion planting is referred to as trap cropping.
If you’re interested in companion planting, this is a good resource: Great Garden Companions: A Companion-Planting System for a Beautiful, Chemical-Free Vegetable Garden