Gardening in small spaces can be a challenge and often gardeners result in choosing just a few plants to grow because of space limitations. This however does not need to be the case; a gardener can plant twice the plants in the same space using intercropping.
Intercropping is when two or more crops are growing in close proximity. By placing the plants in adjacent rows or directly next to each other in the same row gardeners maximize unused space and minimize weeds. The key to making this process work is the pairing of plants, one slow grower and the other a fast growing plant. A popular method of intercropping is companion gardening. Intercropping pairs together plants that will help each other during the growing season. Whether to fend off pests provide sun cover or to feed the soil nutrients the other plant needs.
One strategy of intercropping is planting a taller sun loving plant such as peppers with spinach; the pepper protects the cooler spinach. The spinach will have finished its growing season by the time the peppers mature and need the space. Another way to pair plants is by their root depth. Planting a deep rooted plant, such as pumpkins, along with a shallower plant, such as beans, keeps the two plants from feeding on the same nutrients.
Intercropping can also be beneficial in producing crops that are naturally less affected by pests and diseases. For example if you have a problem with mites on your grapes plant alongside kale or Johnson grass. Catnip will keep aphids off squash and potatoes free of potato beetles.
|Main Plant||Companion Plant|
|Tomatoes||Onions, Parsley, or Cucumbers|
|Squash||Corn or Marigold|
|Strawberries||Spinach, Lettuce, or Bush Beans|
|Potatoes||Horseradish or Cabbage|
|Asparagus||Parsley or Basil|
|Onion Family||Carrots or Lettuce|
|Carrots||Radishes or Tomatoes|
|Eggplant||Beans or Peppers|
|Garlic||Lettuce, Cucumbers, or Peas|