Mielies roasted on the fire is an all time Mzansi favourite,but the humble mielie also has its favourite companions out in the garden. Picture: Dragne Marius/Unsplash
Mielies roasted on the fire is an all time Mzansi favourite,but the humble mielie also has its favourite companions out in the garden. Picture: Dragne Marius/Unsplash

What you need to know about companion planting

By Terry van der Walt Time of article published Nov 2, 2020

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People usually consider a number of things when looking for ideal human companions, but in the garden, it would seem that anything goes.

But it needn't be like that if you know a little bit about companion planting, and putting a bit of thought into your next planting endeavour

Did you know that tomatoes really don't like growing next to cucumber?

Some plants would rather whither and die than be next to a miss-matched vegetable alongside.

That is where companion planting comes in, and it has been going on forever, where humans have worked out that there is a symbiotic relationship between different vegetables.

It is about nutrients that one plant can provide to the other in the soil, crop protection and positive hosting where one plant attracts bugs that eat other bugs that, well, bug its neighbour.

Various indigenous nations in North America have always used the Three Sisters: maize, squash and beans.

What happens is the mielie stalks provide support for the climbing beans, while weeds are kept at bay by the huge leaves of the squash spreading on the ground. The squash leaves also create shade which keeps the soil from drying out.

The beans play their part by supplying nitrogen to the ground, which is taken up by both the squash and the mielies.

There are many different companion combinations which your nursery or seasoned gardener can advise you on.

Happy gardening.

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