Interplanting: Grow more with less space

by: Aidan Feeney

Novice gardeners often approach an empty garden much like an overzealous patron at an all-you-can-eat buffet. It is not enough to simply put seeds or plants in the
ground. To make the most of your garden, it is helpful to understand how to properly space plants and which ones grow best next to each other.

If not, you run the risk of a less-productive garden that falls into disarray long before the end of the growing season.

Even a small garden benefits from understanding which plants thrive together.

Interplanting is a great way to make the most of your garden space. This is when a grower strategically mixes different vegetables in the same space. When done properly, it takes into account the root structure, canopy and rate of growth of each crop.

This ensures that each crop gets enough sunshine, water and nutrients to grow properly. Another potential benefit of interplanting is disrupting garden pests. By mixing and staggering different types of crops throughout a garden bed, insect pests have a harder time locating their host plants than if it were a monoculture.
Some of the easiest interplanting schemes I have done involve tall, trellised plants such as tomatoes, cucumbers or pole beans. They are planted down the middle of a bed, with small, low-to-the-ground and fast-growing crops planted on either side of the tall center crop.

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