Years ago, I learned an organic gardening technique called companion gardening (also known as intercropping). For those of us that do not want to use chemicals in our garden for pest control, companion planting can naturally prevent certain insects from destroying our crop. It doesn’t matter the size of your garden, you can benefit from this technique.
When companion planting, you can plant herbs, flowers, and other vegetables in the same area to help in the pest control. Remember certain herbs tend to take over, like mint. It’s alright to keep them I a planter and place the planter in the garden. This way the roots of the mint will not take over the rest of your garden.
The marigold flower
The mother of all pest control is the marigold flower. You can mingle the plant throughout the garden. You can plant between rows or on the borders (of smaller beds). They not only help control pest, the colorful flowers look attractive.
Another benefit of companion planting is planting tall sun-loving plants with shorter shade tolerant plants. When mixing the sun-loving and shade-loving plants, always plant the sun-loving plants at the north end of the garden plot. If you are planting next to one another remember to plant your tall sun-loving plant to the west of the short loving plant. Planting corn or sunflowers next to peas provide a support for the peas to grow up.
Sharing nutrient is another benefit to companion planting. By planting certain plants together one will use a nutrient the other places in the soil. They take care of each other’s nutrient needs.
Another form of companion planting is called sequential planting. This consists of planting two different plants in the same area at different times. Squash plants cannot be put in the ground until late spring; the big leaves will take over an area. Before it is time to plant the squash you can plant spinach or lettuce in that space and get a crop out of them before it is time to plant the squash. This is the best way to make use of your entire garden all season. I can usually get two crops of green beans out of one season. After my first crop is complete I will plant a second crop in the same area.
It is important to know your garden space or where you are going to place your garden. My garden happens to have a lot of shade. We have a row of trees on the south side of our garden, I had to do my research to know what plants liked the shade and would benefit from the shade. I have the best crop of lettuce this year. If lettuce receives too much sun, it becomes bitter. Give your lettuce some shade and it will actually be sweet.
Last but not least, I learned years ago from the farmer’s wife down the road. Water your garden in the early morning hours. If you water your garden in the evening, the insects are drawn to your plants to get a drink for themselves. Watering early allows the moisture to be off the leaves, so they do not burn. Gardening the organic way doesn’t have to be difficult, it is a matter of know what your plants need and how to provide them with the perfect environment.