What is companion planting and can it really benefit my crops?
Answer: Companion planting can be described as establishing two or more plant species in close proximity for some cultural benefit (such as pest control or higher yield). The concept embraces a number of strategies that increase the biodiversity of agroecosystems.Science has routinely provided evidence that supports some facets of sustainable agriculture, like companion planting. While the scientists may not call their work companion planting per se, the results of their work show that there is potential for home gardeners and small farms to capitalize on the natures of plants to affect each other’s growth. Whether these plants harbor beneficial insects, release nutrients advantageous to another crop’s growth, or simply provide a buffer against the elements to tender seedlings, the tenets of companion planting have been shown repeatedly through rigorous scientific experimentation to be beneficial to planting systems.For a more detailed look at companion planning and how it can be used, consult the ATTRA publication Companion Planting & Botanical Pesticides: Concepts & Resources. This newly revised publication discusses the scientific and traditional basis for companion planting associations including trap cropping, weed suppression, physical-spatial interactions, and other relationships. It provides a companion planting chart for common herbs, vegetables, and flowers, as well as a listing of literature resources. An appendix provides information on the Three Sisters, a traditional Native American companion planting practice.