General    None Given

Where can I find the best tables/charts/examples for intercropping? I could only find some simple lists with a few classic examples (such as combine your strawberrys with spinach to boost them). Is there any useful big database (or even an app?) available?

Posted by: Nica (1 point) Nica
Posted: May 16, 2013


Intercropping can be a useful way to maximize production and help plants work together for mutual benefit. I've found it especially useful for filling in the bare spots between slow-growing upright plants such as corn. But it takes a lot of experimentation (and, in my experience, failures) to get it right.

The big database you want may exist, but can't be tailored to the specific conditions of your garden--its soil characteristics, sun-shade patterns, common insect pests, and plant diseases. Even small gardens are complex ecosystems; plant interactions are especially complex within these systems.

For example, I've often read about the extraordinary benefits of intercropping potatoes and bush beans. But in my garden, the potato leafhopper, which feeds on both potato and bean foliage, with several generations per year, multiplies like crazy and devastates both crops if they're planted close by each other.

I've learned to keep them well separated, and to cover the potatoes most all season long with lightweight floating row covers. These barriers keep both beetles and leafhoppers from the potatoes, and seems to suppress the hoppers populations enough that they don't bother my beans.

Posted by: Peg Boyles (3 points) Peg Boyles
Posted: May 17, 2013


Posted by: Bradley Cahill (1 point) Bradley Cahill
Posted: May 16, 2013

One of the only places I've seen a list of companion plants with references is in Robert Kourik's 1986 book, Designing and Maintaining Your Edible Landscape Naturally.
He footnotes each item so that you can see which particular bugs were deterred (or not) by a specific plant combination. More research is needed! As far as I know, the list is not available online, and I don't know of anyone else who has compiled a list like that since then. Most of the lists I've seen don't list citations, or they're more general.

More useful, I think, is to plant several clumps of plants specifically for beneficial insects, so that once they eat the first flush of aphids, they will stay in your garden. Plants with tiny flowers and native plants are good bets. In my garden, I always find several lady bugs on my yarrow plants, and last week several soldier beetles. In general, flowers in the daisy, parsley, and mint families attract beneficials and pollinators. The tiny disk flowers in daisy-family flowers are the ones that attract beneficials, so choose single rather than double flowers. It's also important to make sure something is in bloom at all times. I let my brassicas go to flower in early spring for this reason, and I plant oregano primarily for the bees.

Another search term that may be useful is succession planting, which is being ready with seed-grown transplants to fill in holes with a succession crop as soon as space opens up in the garden. For instance, once I harvest garlic and onions, which are growing at the edges of my raised beds, I will have space to plant beets or bush beans. (But I don't usually grow bush beans in advance unless I'm testing the germination of older seeds.)

Posted by: Tanya in the Garden (128 points) Tanya in the Garden
Posted: May 17, 2013

Tanya in the Garden commented,
Here's the Cornell fact sheet on companion planting.

about 7 years ago.

I printed out the "Companion Planting Made Easy" from organicgardening.com http://www.organicgardening.com/compa... and have tried several of the combinations. On page 10, it has a chart with "Plants with Complementary Root Growth" and "Plants with Complementary Top Growth" and "Plants that Provide Shade-Plants that tolerate shade". I interplanted my sweet corn with a pole bean for the first time and so far am very happy with the results as they seem to support each other easily.

Posted by: Jean (7 points) Jean
Posted: June 6, 2013

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