Companion Planting

Companion Planting in Raised Garden Beds

We are doing some companion planting in our raised beds.  What is companion planting?  Companion planting is the practice of growing plants that are mutually beneficial in proximity to each other to maximize space and increase productivity.  It is a form of polyculture (as opposed to monoculture).  Different plants are planted together to provide nutrients, control pests, provide habitat for pollenating wildlife, control weeds or unwanted plants, and hold in moisture.  The classic example of companion planting is the “Three Sisters” method used by the Native Americans.  Corn, pole beans, and square are planted together.  The corn provides support for the pole beans, which provide nitrogen in the soil, while the squash leaves hold in moisture and help control weeds.

 Three Sisters Companion PlantingThree Sisters Companion Planting, Corn, Pole Beans, & Squash

Companion planting has been used for thousands of years across the world from Mesoamerica to England with cottage gardens, to China in rice fields where the mosquito fern is used to host a bacterium that fixes nitrogen from the air and shades out competing plants.  Today, companion planting is used in both industrialized and developing countries.  One of the most interesting examples may be found in Cornwall, England at the Eden Project.

 Companion Planting at the Market Garden Eden Project

Our raised beds are not so grand :).  We have planted Cherokee purple tomatoes in between our rows of atomic red and cosmic purple carrots.  To keep away aphid and some other unwanted insects, we have also planted marigolds.  We will also be adding in basil, spearmint, and thyme to our beds and containers to ward off other pests.  Using plants as an insecticide is a good practice in organic gardening.

 Companion Planting in Raised Beds

Here is a basic guide to companion planting that also tells what plants are good for controlling what pests.

For more reading about companion planting and patterning, see Earth Wisdoms blog.



Print Friendly