Find Great Pals for Your Garden
Companion plant and encourage friendship between your crops. Deter pests, improve soil quality, and boost yields with polyculture.
Farmers and gardeners rely more on companion planting with each cycle of seasons. But what is it? First, let’s discuss modern, conventional agriculture for comparison.
Since the 1950s, conventional agriculture employs monoculture planting with large agrochemical inputs. On one hand, this post-war agricultural revolution reduces the need for human workers. But, it has enormous implications for our soils and ecosystems.
Planting large areas of one crop encourages explosive growth of that crop’s natural predators — requiring pest control. Also, sowing the same thing each year depletes the soil of nutrients and diminishes micro diversity.
Thus, you need chemical fertilizers for otherwise productive land. Conventional methods become a feedback loop requiring more inputs each season. There is another way.
Companion planting is a form of polyculture or planting beneficial species together. It aims to improve yield and soil quality. We will discuss the history, benefits, and some examples of this agricultural method.
History of Polyculture
Throughout millennia, early cultures built upon the idea of companion planting. The practice derives from cottage gardens, food forests, and early American agriculture. Take a look.
Cottage gardens rose to fame in England as an antithesis to the well-manicured estates. Instead of greenhouse annuals planted in rows, they have a quiet sense of grace and charm. The poor care more about meat than beauty, so cooking herbs rather than ornamentals were grown.
In Asia and South America, Indigenous cultures practice food forestry. Landscape management still takes place today, particularly in tropical areas. It provides a consistent food source in alignment with natural systems and some extra income from…