Gardening Planning - Part II: Companion Planting & Crop Rotation
February 6, 2015
Companion planting (a centuries-old gardening practice) and rotating your crops (even in a small space), allows your growing veggies to benefit from naturally getting nutrients they need, in addition to deterring pests.
I have created this Companion Planting list from a composite of resources as a convenient, compact guide of useful plants (and ones that will likely find their way into my garden).
Do not plant corn and tomatoes next to each other; they attract the same pests and are more likely to attract those pests when grouped together.
Once you’ve drawn out your measured space (as illustrated in the last blog post) and penciled in a proposed layout of veggie plants and their companions, you can squeeze in a few different herbs throughout for natural pest deterrent and to add to your culinary store:
Rotating your crops is important for nutrient uptake of your garden veggies. If you plant the same corn in the same spot year after year, your soil is going to get depleted of the nutrients that corn needs. Corn is a heavy feeder and will deplete nitrogen and phosphorus from the soil, as will tomatoes. Legumes, on the other hand, add nitrogen to your soil.
Not only does crop rotation help with your soil’s fertility, but it also helps reduce diseases in your soil and deter soil-dwelling bugs (I know that is probably an improper term that my entomologist cousin would kill me for using; I just mean it as a catchall for creepy crawlies) from setting up home in your garden.
For example, if you did not rotate your potato crop to the other end of the garden, your potatoes would not grow as well, the pests that eat at them would keep coming back, and if you do it long enough, your soil would eventually compact. Though crop rotation is not a perfect science, if you mix things up a little, you will see your veggies grow more healthfully.
Here are a few pointers:
Avoid planting the same category of plants in the same spot every year. For example, do not plant leafy or fruiting veggies in the same area as last year. Plant light feeders like beans, peas, or other legumes in that area instead.
Do not plant veggies of the same plant family next to each other. The same pests that trouble potatoes will also bother tomatoes and aubergine. Keep these far apart in your garden, and consider planting repellent herbs (see Table II above) between them.
For convenience, you can split veggies into 4 main families: roots, leafy greens, legumes, and fruiting veggies. Keep in mind this is an approximate classification (potatoes are roots and tomatoes are fruiting, but they are actually members of the same family).
Companion planting and crop rotation are great ways to naturally enhance your vegetable garden’s overall health and growth. This guide should be enough to get you started, and if you have more in depth questions, please drop me a line.
Gehring, Abigail R., Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills, 3rd Edition, Skyhorse Publishing, 2008.
This Old House, March 2015.
National Climatic Data Center, US Department of Commerce (https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/climatenormals/climatenormals.pl?directive=prod_select2&prodtype=CLIM2001&subrnum%2520to%2520Freeze/Frost%2520Data%2520from%2520the%2520U.S.%2520Climate%2520Normals)