Interplanting Vegetables Has Emerged As A Gardening Strategy That Not Only Enhances The Aesthetic Appeal Of Your Garden But Also Boosts Overall Productivity. But What Is Interplanting?

This age-old technique involves planting different vegetables in close proximity, allowing them to interact symbiotically, creating a harmonious environment for growth. I’ve spent a lifetime growing crops and in this article I want to share the secrets of successful interplanting to help you grow more veg in less space plus create a beautiful, flourishing and diverse vegetable garden.

Interplanting vegetable plants in a container for winter production.

Simply defined interplanting is where we grow more than one type of plant in a given area. But the reality is that it can be far more complex than that with many species being grown in a bed with the continuous addition of new plants as soon as a space becomes free.

A well known, but often badly practised interplanting example, is the Three Sisters technique, where maize, gourds and beans are grown in one bed.

Today we can intensify interplanting by using module or pot raised plants to fill in the gaps. The benefit being that they are able to utilise the space far quicker than seed will. This means bare soil is not apparent for long and hence weeds have little time to establish.

Diversifying Your Garden With Interplanting Vegetables

Interplanting vegetables is a practice rooted in biodiversity. By mixing and matching various crops, you can create a vibrant and resilient ecosystem within your garden. This not only confuses pests and reduces the risk of diseases but also optimises the use of available space, maximising your harvest, however limited in size your beds might be. This means that small areas of garden or allotment can be very productive, or what I would call biointensive.

Interplanting & Complementary Pairings

One of the key principles of successful interplanting is selecting crops that complement each other. Consider the growth habits, nutrient requirements, and harvesting times of different vegetables to create synergistic pairings. For instance, tall and leafy plants can provide shade and shelter for smaller, sun-sensitive varieties. Planting nitrogen-fixing legumes, such as peas or beans, alongside heavy feeders like tomatoes, can enrich the soil with essential nutrients.

Succession Planting

Interplanting is closely linked to succession planting, a technique that ensures a continuous harvest throughout the growing season. By strategically planting fast-maturing crops alongside slow-growers, you can make the most of your garden space and enjoy a steady supply of fresh produce. For example, interplanting radishes or lettuce between rows of tomatoes or peppers allows you to harvest quick-growing radish and lettuce before the larger plants mature.

Companion Planting for Pest Control

Harnessing the power of companion planting is another advantage of interplanting vegetables. Certain plant combinations can deter pests or attract beneficial insects, creating a natural and sustainable pest control system. For example, it is often claimed that planting aromatic herbs like basil or rosemary alongside susceptible crops like tomatoes can help repel common garden pests. It is also claimed that marigolds, with their natural insect-repelling properties, make excellent companions for a variety of vegetables. Some of the complain planting examples I see claimed are proven, but others ar amor myth than true. What is true is that having a wide range of plants growing together helps spread them round the plot and that makes it harder for pests to find them all.

Utilising Vertical Space

Interplanting isn’t limited to the horizontal plane; it can be extended vertically to maximise space utilisation. Consider growing climbing vegetables, such as beans or cucumbers, alongside taller plants like corn or sunflowers. This vertical integration not only enhances the aesthetics of your garden but also provides structural support for climbing plants while optimising sunlight exposure for all crops involved. though it has to be said that some shading effect will occur and hence yields will be affected too some extent.

My Interplanting Conclusions

Interplanting vegetables creates the opportunity to have biodiversity, productivity, and sustainability. It’s also about the harmonious relationships that can exist among different plant species, leading to a more resilient and balanced ecosystem in the garden. But I don’t think it should be considered in isolation. We need to consider all the other factors such as succession sowing and planting, the microclimate and a hundred other factors which I’ve already written about or soon will! Watch this space for more.

Tag: Interplanting Vegetables

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