Garden / June 16, 2018 /
Companion planting is often touted for the benefit of cutting down on pest infestations, but it also serves well to conserve space. Shade tolerant plants will benefit from being planted next to taller crops. Basil likes a respite from hot sun and does well next to tomatoes. Lettuce will keep producing all summer if shaded by almost any taller plant. Early harvested vegetables, like spinach, radishes and peas, can be planted with slower growing crops like broccoli or peppers, which will not take over the space until the spring harvested vegetables are gone.
Instead of rows, Jeavons and Bartholomew suggest planting in tightly spaced geometric patterns that will allow the crops to create a living mulch of foliage as they mature. This living mulch performs two of the main tasks that regular old dead mulch does: keeping the soil moist and suppressing weeds. In order to create this effect, however, you need to know how much space to give each plant. Mel Bartholomews brilliantly simple tactic is to set a 1-by-1-foot grid onto a garden space and plant crops into the grid. Large crops such as broccoli, peppers and cabbage require a whole square, whereas small ones such as carrots and radishes can be planted 16 to a square.