Vegetable garden companion planting can increase yields, improve soil and help keep pests away.
Some plants grow much better when you plant them next to, or even in amongst other plants. Good companion plants have the ability to shelter one another and give support in various ways such as sharing nutrients, chasing away pests and attracting insects that will pollinate their companions.
Vegetable garden companion planting is recognized to be one of the least understood areas of gardening and it seems that a lot of the time, companion plants are opposites.
So some plants that love the sun will provide shelter for those that don’t. Some plants with shallow roots are happy to share their environment with those who have deep-growing roots.
Similarly some slow-growing plants do well with others that grow slowly, because their needs vary at different times. For exampl; a plant that flowers early will produce pollen and nectar that might attract insects that benefit another plant.
Heavy feeders often do well with light feeders, or those that need different nutrients by stimulating biological activity in the soil that benefits the heavy feeders.
By watching which plants do well together, as well as those that don’t like one another, you will find that you can grow a much wider variety of plants in your vegetable patch.
You will also find it a lot easier to control pests and produce disease-free crops. Companion planting is basically, a method of planting and growing various plant species together for mutual benefit.
Vegetable garden companion planting also includes attracting birds and insects that are beneficial for your garden.
Attract birds and bugs that eat the bad bugs. Bees, butterflies & other insects can also help to pollinate.
Companion planting originated hundreds of years ago but wasn't studied scientifically until recent years. People did it because they discovered that it worked. They didn't care why, and didn't care about scientific proof.
In modern farming, this subject is being studied to not only understand the why, but also how to improve on the methods with scientific proof and analysis.
There are some simple principles involved. For example, some plants with a shallow root system do better alongside plants with a deeper root system. Then they are not competing with each other so much for nutrients.
Another example is plants that like lots of sun providing shade for plants that don't want a lot of sunshine. Corn loves sunshine and can shade shorter plants the like more shade. Corn can also be used as supports for climbing plants.
You could also plant fast-growing lettuce species between plants like tomatoes, cabbages, broccoli or Brussels sprouts and then they will provide shade as the other slower growing plants are developing.
There are also plants that help to repel pests and are good close to other plants, such as tomatoes, since tomatoes are more susceptible to a lot of pests.
Birds can help to keep pests under control as well as helping to pollinate your plants.
Plant some colorful flowers to attract them.
Companion planting can improve your soil too. There are also plants that put nutrients into the soil that other plants need and this is getting more into the aspects of companion planting from the scientific study side of the issue.
There are also plants that help to break down compost more quickly and compost is something that many people want more of and they want to make it faster.
And believe it or not, there are plants most people consider to be weeds, that can be very good for your companion garden planting, but the trick is to control them and not let them take over your garden.
One good example of this is stinging nettle. It can help to enhance your soil and it is also a plant that is used in many natural remedies because of it's healing qualities.
Many of the plants we call weeds push their roots deep into the sub-soil, aerating the earth and enabling the not so hardy roots of other vegetables to penetrate deeper down for more nutrient access.
There are actually a lot of plants that repel certain insects and putting these plants beside the bug-susceptible plants can make your garden almost pest free. This in one of the most exciting aspects of vegetable garden companion planting and also an area that most people know very little about.
Just imagine having bug-free tomatoes and other veggies that bugs love to eat!
The other side of the bug story is that certain plants can also attract insects that are great for your garden. Ladybugs are an example of bugs that are great for helping to control the bugs you want to get rid of.
Many flowering plants will attract beneficial insects.
The principles of vegetable garden companion planting also means you will end up with an organic garden. Since companion planting is all about using natural methods to enhance your garden, including your soil, it is not only an organic garden, but a garden where plants and nature are helping each other for the maximum benefit for all.
You can still have an organic garden without companion planting, but companion planting will produce a much healthier, more productive organic garden.
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