Companion Planting Understanding how plants interact is crucial to successfully growing multiple crop varieties and for successful farming and gardening in general.
The Importance of Understanding Plant Interactions Successful farmers and growers are well aware of their nutrient demands their crops place upon their soil or aquaponic/hydroponic systems. They know that some plants in particular, like legumes, fix nitrogen and add to soil nutrition while others demand a great deal from the soil or nutrient solution without giving much back throughout their life cycles. Some plants even produce various chemicals that can affect the growth of other plants around them. Each of these factors play a large role in determining how well plants grow together. While some plants can inhibit the growth of others, helping to produce maximum yields, surpress pests and facilitate better pollination, pairing the wrong types of plants together can lead to poor or stunted growth and a frustrated farmer/grower. â€œCompanion Plantingâ€? involves planting different plants near each other for overall greater production.
A Brief History of Companion Planting While Companion Planting has been prominent throughout the world anywhere polyculture (growing multiple varieties of crops in the same space), it is most famously used by indigenous populations throughout North America.
(Source: http://www.threes.com/cms/images/stories/food/3sisters.jpg) Using a natural trellis Companion Planting technique, Native peoples used the corn’s stalk to provide a trellis for pole beans to climb, while also fixing nitrogen and subsequently provide essential soil nutrition for the corn. This technique allowed for increased yields for both beans and corn. This practice has been widely adopted over the years by organic gardeners and permaculture practitioners believing growing different plant species together helps them all thrive. Techniques like the “Three Sisters” incorporate squash into corn and bean production in order to create a trifecta of plant triumph. While the corn provides a natural trellis for the beans to climb (getting rid of the need for poles), and the beans continue to fix nitrogen to promote overall soil health and production power, the squash spread themselves horizontally and help block sunlight/weed establishment.
Companion Planting Resources Online Guides Online guides, like the ones below are fantastic resources to help you learn about and keep track of all the various companion plants out there. These guides can range from fairly basic picture guides meant for the beginner companion planter or much more detailed charts for the more experienced hydroponic grower, backyard gardener or urban farmer.
Master Gardeners Master Gardeners are another really great resource for learning more about companion planting by those who have a wide array of experience in your specific growing conditions. These are horticultural experts usually trained at the university level who are passionate about sharing their knowledge with their surrounding communities. A map on the Master Gardenersâ€™ home page allows you to seek out and connect with these wise individuals in your area who can give you great, regional specific growing advice.
Companion Planting For Everyone Now, you may come across various articles or blog posts depicting companion planting as a myth or a hoax. Ignore these people!
The fact is that some plants grow better together than others and there are many strategies when planting your garden, farm or aquaponics system that can save you some serious headaches if you do a little research first. At Bright Agrotech, we constantly reference our companion planting guides and resources to make sure that weâ€™re incorporating the best strategies whether weâ€™re planting our vertical aquaponic towers or our soil greenhouse. Remember, if you decide to just throw some seeds on the soil or some seedlings into a ZipGrow Tower, youâ€™ll often find that your production is stunted or you have some pest problems. Consulting even a basic companion planting chart, reading a book or asking a local Master Gardener can save you a lot of hardship, frustration and money in your gardening, urban farming or aquaponic production ventures. For more information, visit Verticalfoodblog.Com