Thursday, February 23, 2012
There are many ways to interplant. I combine plants with different growth habits (upright and spreading), nutrient needs (heavy and light feeders), light requirements (full sun and partial shade), growth rate (quick and slow) and so on. In the photo at left is a classic interplanting combination - radishes and carrots. Carrots are extremely slow to germinate and grow, but radishes can sprout in as little as 2 days! Therefore, planting them together will mark the row for the slower growing carrots and by the time you're ready to harvest the radishes - in about 3 weeks - the carrots will just begin to need that space.
I also love to interplant salad greens - mesclun mix, lettuce blends, leaf lettuce, spinach, baby chard and more - in between my brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, kohlrabi, kale). The low growing salad crops form a living mulch on the soil surface which helps prevent weed growth and water evaporation. Plus, it looks extremely ornamental! Check out the image below of my cabbages and leaf lettuces.
Another fun way to interplant is to use the shelter provided by taller crops, like pole beans to protect cool season crops from the summer sun. Under our A-frame trellises and pole bean teepees, I like to plant crops like arugula, spinach and pak choi, which typically would rather grow in spring, fall (in the garden) and winter (in a cold frame). The shade from the pole beans (or climbing cukes, gourds, peas, etc) is just enough to allow my cool weather veggies to thrive - even in July and August!
Some other combo's that I've had success with include beets and Japanese turnips between my broccoli, broccoli raab between my celeriac and celery plants, spring salad greens between my young tomato seedlings, soybeans between my leeks and pole beans climbing up my corn. So many possibilities for interplanting! What are some of your favourite combo's??