1. pa rt 14: C o m pa n i o n P l a n t i n gCertain plants know howto help their neighborsIncreasing the diversity of your garden can save yourplants from pests and competition About this series By Leslie Allen n Horticulture Program Coordinator This article is the 14th in a University of NevadaINTERCROPPING: Fancy terms are used these days, but Native Americans had an Cooperative Extension seriesexample called the Three Sisters garden. on starting your own vegetable garden. Articles explore such Companion planting is a topics as site selection, orderingmethod of arranging your seeds and preparing your soil.plantings according to which To find the complete series oftypes of plants are potentially articles, go to our “Grow Yourbeneficial to one another. Own” page at www.unce.unr.Companion planting may edureduce competition for waterand nutrients, decrease pestand disease problems, andpossibly increase vegetableproduction. Companion planting is In a Three Sisters Garden (above), the corn provides a living trellis for the polethought to work, in part, beans, the pole beans provide nitrogen for use by the corn, and the squash provides living mulch. (Jim Sloan photo)because it increases plantdiversity. Imagine a hungry there’s a plant it doesn’t like in vegetables in a single row.insect population finding its its way? You would probably This is sometimes calledway into your garden. If it notice the damage and might intercropping, and alternatingencounters an entire row of be able to control the problem garlic or basil with tomatoits preferred food, you can before losing your entire crop. plants is a popular example.bet that the entire row will be And, the insects may move You can also intercrop moredecimated before you even on to “greener pastures” if than two varieties. A classicnotice. However, what if that undesirable plants are mixed multispecies intercroppinginsect population found one in with desirable ones. example is growing onions,plant of its favorite food, only In its simplest form, lettuce and carrots together.to be halted from moving companion planting is Each of these plants grows itsonto the next one because alternating two types of Continued on back The University of Nevada, Reno is an Equal Opportunity/ Affirmative Action employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, creed, national origin, veteran status, physical or mental disability, or sexual orientation in any program or activity it conducts. The University of Nevada employs only United States citizens and aliens lawfully authorized to work in the United States. Copyright © 2009 University of Nevada Cooperative Extension
2. Companions pole beans, the Popular companions pole beans provide Companion planting has its rootsroots at different levels in the nitrogen for use by in both science and folklore. Somesoil, so they don’t compete the corn, and the people swear by planting basil withwith each other for nutrients. squash provides their tomatoes, and others won’tAboveground, these plants living mulch. The plant basil without garlic.have such distinct growth three plants createhabits and foliage shapes that a synergy that Here are some suggestions forthey don’t crowd each other produces a greater popular homegrown vegetables. Iffor sunlight or space. yield, increased you would like to read more about Bush beans and peas nutrition and companion planting, “Carrotsare popular vegetables to more food calories Love Tomatoes,” by Louise Riotte,intercrop with plants that are than if only one and “Gaia’s Garden,” by Tobyheavy nitrogen feeders. This of the crops was Hemenway, are a couple of booksis because beans and peas grown alone in the Try edging your garden with annual or perennial herbs that have comprehensive plant and flowers. (Jim Sloan photo)are nitrogen fixers, meaning same space. The lists and design suggestions.they can utilize atmospheric Anasazi added another sister, flowers near their vegetables.nitrogen for their growth bee plant, Cleome serrulata, They planted “insectary” Of course, you can also alwaysand reproduction. They have to the plant mix to improve gardens to attract beneficial call us, (775) 784-4848, orsymbiotic bacteria that live on pollination of the beans and insects to the farm. You, too, visit us at University of Nevadatheir roots and form nodules squash and provide pollen to can plant an insectary garden Cooperative Extension forrich in nitrogen. Plants growing the bees. within your vegetable garden. recommendations and morenear them will be able to The Anasazi knew that Try edging your garden with information.intertwine their roots with the flowering plants are great annual or perennial herbs andbeans’ roots and utilize the additions to vegetable flowers. You can harvest thenitrogen stored there. gardens, as many of them herbs as needed, but their An ancient and popular attract beneficial insects. real value is in the flower. Dill,companion planting is the For example, cosmos attract parsley and cilantro flowersThree Sisters garden. The syrphid flies, lacewings attract many beneficial insects.Three Sisters method is a and tiny parasitic wasps. When you’re designingunique Native American way All of these insects help your garden this year, mimicof growing corn, pole bean, control pests such as aphids, how Mother Nature designsand squash. These three leafhoppers, spider mites and gardens. Think of hikingplants mutually benefit each cutworms. through a beautiful meadow About the authorother as they grow. The corn Our farming forefathers also in the Sierra Nevada at theprovides a living trellis for the knew the value of planting height of wildflower season. Leslie Allen is the You don’t see row upon row former commercial Vegetable Companion of one type of flower. Rather, horticulture program Tomatoes and peppers Asparagus, carrots, chives, you see a multicolored carpet coordinator for the cucumbers, garlic, marigold, nasturtium, onions, parsley, peppers, of many different types of western area of basil flowers. Many of the flowers University of Nevada Potatoes Watermelon, beans, broccoli, bloom at different times and Cooperative Extension. cabbage, corn, peas grow to different heights; and She is also a 2008 when they die, they open up Nevada EcoNet Golden Strawberries Spinach, lettuce, bush beans, borage, and apple, pear and peach new spaces for another plant Pine Cone award trees species to grow. You can follow recipient. Cucumbers Corn, beans, peas, radishes, these same principles when sunflowers designing your garden.