No matter what size garden plot you have take advantage of a technique called interplanting to maximize your veggie output this summer. Interplanting is the process of placing two different crops closely together in the same bed or garden row. It is ideal to use when you are managing a space with hand tools and are trying to maximize production.
Here are a few tips to make this a success this growing season:
Pair slow and fast growing plants together. By knowing a crop's days to maturity (DTM) you can choose two different crops that won't compete for space. A common pairing is planting radishes (20-30 DTM) with carrots (70-90 DTM). This can be done by sowing carrot seed with normal spacing and planting radishes between the rows or even mixing the seeds together (see technique here). Radishes will mature faster and can be harvested before the carrots reach full size.
Grow things that are different heights. When thinking about what plants to grow together it’s ideal to place short and tall crops in the same bed. They are less likely to compete for space. A classic example is planting basil and tomatoes together. Not only do they make a great pairing in summer dishes, but basil has only been know to repel pests with its strong smell.
Maximize win-win relationships. There are a lot of benefits to adding edible flowers to your garden even if you don’t have enough space for a full bed. They are great for attracting pollinators and increasing fruit production on crops like summer squash and cucumbers. Consider planting flowers as a border or on the edge of a row in your garden. A good pairing is planting nasturtiums next to summer squash.
The concept of intercropping is done best when thinking about a garden as a whole system and what plants work well together. It may sound intimidating at first, but can easily be trialed and modified one area at time and will be a great benefit to maximize plant diversity overall.