Call it French intensive, postage stamp gardening, square foot gardening, edible landscapes, permaculture,it all works. The idea here is to get the biggest yield with the least amount of time, effort, and space. $10 worth of seeds will yield $650 worth of food if you play your cards right. There is a trick. The trick is companion gardening. It isn’t new, Mother Nature has been doing it forever.
Look at any wild area where Nature has had her way and you will see many different kinds of plants growing, thriving, helping each other with soil nutrients, sun and shade protection, repelling pests, attracting pollinators. Pretty intense stuff with no help or interference from humans.
Man likes to do Monoculture which is rows and rows of the same plant exposed, isolated and helplessly stretched across horizon less fields. This kind of farming takes big bucks and every minute of every day to maintain. Man has to play god trying to do what nature does naturally. So, monoculture has to kill everything that the plant comes in contact with: It kills the weeds, the pollinators, microorganism and then has to spend money replacing these things with artificial fertilizes, artificial pest control, artificial shade, artificial light, artificial weed control, artificial temperature control, artificial water. Even the plant has been shot full of chemicals so it can resist all the chemicals that go on it. Our modern-day monoculture is on chemotherapy. Pretty expensive stuff.
The difference here is as long as we have a bucket of dirt or a square inch of soil we can give nature a hand in our own backyard and it will not cost us anything.
It doesn’t cost Nature a cent to make things grow. Her trick is cooperation. She puts her kingdoms in charge of each other’s happiness. Little seeds fall onto rich fertile soil that was left there by the former occupants that takes root and blooms and grows. Natural sunlight, heat, bees, butterflies, rain, wind, worms, microorganisms all go about making life a joy and a wondrous affair to remember.
Mom’s a genius when it comes to making stuff grow. We have learned by watching Her at work that certain plants bring out the best in each other. Just like good friends. So, lets look at a couple of things we can do to get the most bang for our buck. One way is by planting plants that like each together. Then invite some friendly working insects into the mix and you have a garden teeming with life.
So let’s get started with the classic Indian method called the 3 sisters. You plant corn in the back you plant beans at the base of the corn and squash in front of the beans. The beans enrich the soil with nitrogen that the corn and squash love. The beans use the corn as a trellis and the squash covers the ground like a mulch retaining moisture. You can do cucumbers instead of squash but then it would be 2 sisters and an in-law.
I am going to give you a link to show all the companion plants but I’ll bet you already know quite a few. A rule of thumb is usually what goes good in the pot works good together in the garden. Think spaghetti garden, tomatoes, parsley, garlic, and basil all work great together. Plant an enchilada garden cilantro, peppers, onions more garlic. This is just getting your mind wrapped around the idea of mixing it all up.
Word about plants that hate each other. Tomatoes and strawberries fight like cats and dogs. Carrots and dill, don’t sound good and either does lettuce and cabbage. If you think about it we don’t mix these things together when we eat them so more than likely they are not going to work well together in the garden.
The Clydesdale of the garden.
Put them everywhere.
When you plant all these different things together it confuses the bad bugs as opposed to putting everything in a neat little roll where they can zero in on it. Don’t make it easy for bugs make it easy for you. The plants do the work by helping each other.
Here is a great site for more info on Companion gardening, beneficial insects and weeds. Yes, there is such a thing as a good weed. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_companion_plants
I want you to be able to identify good bugs and insects in the garden. So, here is a list of beneficial with pictures. Be kind and let them be.
That should get you started on beneficial bugs. Here is a list and a link to more of the same.
List of other beneficial.
Having fun in the garden makes the food taste better. So have some fun. Variety is the spice of life.
Circle of Life