Companion planting

Companion planting in gardening and agriculture is planting of different crops in close physical proximity.

One traditional practice was planting of corn (maize) and pole beans together. The cornstalk would serve as a trellis for the beans to climb.

Companion planting was widely touted in the 1970s as part of the organic gardening movement. It was encouraged not for pragmatic reasons like trellising, but rather with the idea that different species of plant may thrive more when close together.

The combinations of plants also make for a more varied, attractive vegetable garden. Many of the modern principles of companion planting were present many centuries ago in the cottage garden.

For example:

Nasturtium are well-known to attract caterpillars, so planting them alongside or around vegetables such as lettuce or cabbage will protect them, as the egg-laying insects will tend to prefer the nasturtium.

Crops which suffer from greenfly and aphids may benefit from the proximity of marigolds: these attract hoverflies and are also said to deter other pests.

The use of plants that produce copious nectar and protein-rich pollen in a vegetable garden is a good way to enhance the population of beneficial insects that control pests. Some insects in the adult form are nectar or pollen feeders, while in the larval form they are voracious predators of pest insects.

Biblical reference

Companion planting and use of nurse crops are proscribed in Leviticus 19:19.

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