Re­silient Grow­ing

Com­pan­ion plant­ing

Country Smallholding - - Welcome -

Ihave never got on very well with fol­low­ing ex­act­ing crop ro­ta­tion cy­cles. The prob­lem for me has been that there are so many sug­gested ways of go­ing about it, in the past it’s made my head reel try­ing to work out what goes where. Sound fa­mil­iar?

Over many sea­sons and with much ex­per­i­men­ta­tion un­der my belt, what I’ve re­alised is that crop ro­ta­tion of­fers more to the larger scale mar­ket gar­dener than it does for some­one look­ing to grow pro­duce for their own ta­ble. On a smaller scale a much looser, mix-and-match style of plant­ing where lots of fruit and veg­eta­bles grow to­gether in har­mony is very at­trac­tive, much eas­ier to carry out and ar­guably more fun and highly ef­fec­tive to boot.

Of course it comes down to per­sonal taste as well. If you like large rou­tine blocks of the same fruit or veg­etable grow­ing to­gether then that’s great, stick with it. Other­wise if you would like to try a more rock ‘n’ roll ap­proach which works equally as well, then do read on.

So how does it work?

In this more free-spir­ited sys­tem, you have a range of dif­fer­ent types of plant grow­ing to­gether which pro­vides a nat­u­ral biodiversity and means you don’t de­plete the soil of nu­tri­ents any­way. It will also help avoid pathogen build-up in the process.

The sheer di­ver­sity of this ap­proach with a range of dif­fer­ent sized (and smelling) veg­eta­bles and fruit co-ex­ist­ing to­gether seems also to help pre­vent so many pests in the first place. If you think about clas­sic com­pan­ion plant­ing ad­vice with re­gards to carrots, where in­ter-plant­ing of onions and marigolds is rec­om­mended to help pre­vent car­rot fly at­tack, it’s a lit­tle like this but just on a much big­ger scale. Pests that are at­tracted to a cer­tain type of pro­duce are much more in­clined to be drawn - in if you are grow­ing it en masse in one place, whereas if it’s mixed and spread about your plot, it’s much harder for their neme­ses to move on in.

Have fun and cre­ate your own ver­sion of ed­i­ble love­li­ness

There are many, many more ben­e­fits be­sides of this very easy-to-man­age ap­proach, here’s a look at just some of the com­bi­na­tions that work es­pe­cially well:

Give your cab­bages a head start

Bras­si­cas nor­mally fol­low ni­tro­gen fix­ing legumes in a clas­sic crop ro­ta­tion cy­cle so you can cut to the chase by plant­ing the two to­gether around your plot. This way your kale, broc­coli or cab­bage can cash in early on the pow­er­ful ben­e­fits that their pea or bean neigh­bours gen­er­ously add to the soil.

Herby com­pan­ions

Pol­li­na­tors and ben­e­fi­cial in­sects love rose­mary, thyme and laven­der es­pe­cially and will be en­cour­aged onto your plot to lend a help­ing hand if you grow some. With their strong aroma they can also act as a ben­e­fi­cial pest dis­guiser shield­ing more del­i­cate neigh­bours from at­tack.

Fen­nel is another par­tic­u­larly wor­thy con­trib­u­tor as it’s a pop­u­lar home for la­dy­birds, whose lar­vae are a pow­er­ful aphid-munch­ing force with which to be reck­oned.

Use salad leaves in-be­tween other plant­ing

Easy to grow and ex­tremely un­de­mand­ing of their neigh­bours – they can be planted in any gaps, in and around much hun­grier crops.

Last, but not least, have fun with it. With mixed plant­ing there is much more op­por­tu­nity to have fun and cre­ate your own ver­sion of ed­i­ble love­li­ness – en­joy!

Kim Stod­dart teaches a range of ed­i­ble gar­den­ing courses from her small­hold­ing in beau­ti­ful Ceredi­gion. www.green­rock-et­courses. com. She’s of­fer­ing a spe­cial 15% dis­count for our read­ers for book­ings be­fore the end of June. Just quote CSJune18 for this spe­cial of­fer.

Bras­si­cas and legumes the per­fect com­pan­ions.

Bras­si­cas and legumes the per­fect com­pan­ions.

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