Is companion planting a great way to develop extra natural greens? Or is it a mare’s nest of fantasy and rumour? So totally different are everybody’s natural gardens that it may be both of these items. However one confirmed and complicated instance of companion planting is the Ayurvedic backyard, well-liked in Nepal, India and adjoining lands. It presents a confirmed option to develop a lazy backyard organically with out chemical pesticides.
Advanced from historical medical lore, it combines a large number of vegetation in a single plot, every plant exactly matched to help the opposite and to baffle or repel bugs. As a result of aphids favor lush inexperienced foliage, susceptible crops like beans are interplanted with purple, purple or blue crops akin to purple cabbage, purple kale, purple sprouting broccoli, rhubarb or ruby chard.
Likewise, caterpillars love soft-leaved vegetation however dislike powerful foliage. So rising tomato, kale, beans and cucurbits amongst brassica deters caterpillars, and the brassica confuses beatles and different bugs that hunt down the harder crops.
Tall sun-loving vegetation like tomatoes, candy corn, aubergine and peppers are intercropped with cool-loving lettuces to maximise use of area whereas each odd gap is stuffed with leeks, carrots and different root greens which exploit the deeper soil ranges. Fragrant herbs, onions and chives are grouped across the mattress as an extra pest barrier.
Whereas anybody mixture may give little safety or enhance in yield (or so analysis suggests), a huge variety like this – planted collectively in zigzag rows or at random intervals – has cumulative influence, it is stated. Formal crop rotation is pointless as a result of every plant when pulled is immediately changed by one other of a unique family. And within the lengthy Asian rising season, main food crops can usually be raised successively in the identical area 12 months spherical.
Introducing an excellent less complicated type of Ayurvedic gardening – YIN
I love the Ayurvedic system as a mannequin of pure gardening… however I would detest the purgatory of hand-weeding it. So may this managed jungle be made labour-free? A clue lies in one other Asian nation, Japan, residence of the fabled no-dig system of Masanobu Fukuoka. This Buddhist visionary confirmed that rye and barley seed, wrapped in clay pellets, will be broadcast-sown amongst rice whereas it’s nonetheless rising.
Opposite to perception, a lot rice – ‘wild’ rice aside – isn’t grown in water. When the rice is harvested, its stems are unfold among the many seedling grains as a mulch. Because the grains mature, rice is hand-sown amongst them. When the grain is harvested, its stems…are reduce and unfold as a mulch. Because the rice matures, rye and barley are sown once more.
And so it goes, in a perpetual cycle – one crop maturing as one other is began amongst it. The roots are left to rot within the soil, the mulch from every crop retains moisture so watering is often pointless, and the soil’s fertility renews itself.
It is deceptively easy. But it surely took Fukuoka 30 years to excellent it and his early experiments worn out his farm, twice. Suppose we mix each these Asian strategies, and add a contact of Western bravura? And produced the perfect scheme for a low upkeep natural backyard?
Introducing Yeoman’s Improved No-dig system (YIN).
In February underneath cloches, we would plant broad beans intercropped with radishes, pak choy, aragula (rocket), spinach, early lettuce, peas and carrots. For mulch, we would use a number of sheets of newspaper held down with compost and reduce holes or slits in it for the seeds or transplants.
By late Might, the peas could have grown up the beans and each will be harvested. Any immature pods will be eaten complete like mangetout and the still-growing ideas used recent in salads. As within the Fukuoka methodology, we depart the roots within the soil and lay again the reduce bean and pea stems plus any undesirable spinach foliage as a mulch. Candy corn transplants are then put in.
Amongst them we drop French beans (Phaseolus vulgaris, the ‘frequent’ bean), maincrop carrots and different roots, plus extra lettuce. We ring the plot with transplants of calendula, tagetes, nasturtiums, basil, carraway and different spicy annual herbs. On the finish of the rows go space-hogging courgettes, pumpkins and different squash.
In September, all is harvested. We depart the roots within the soil, chop the stems and leaves and lay them again as mulch. In go our winter brassica. Or we’d sow Chinese language leaves, land cress and aragula (rocket), very thickly, as edible inexperienced manures. That is reduce in February and laid again as a mulch, whereupon the cycle begins once more.
No extra, should we lug these stems and leaves to a compost bin, flip it laboriously then haul the wretched stuff again the place it got here from. Nature does not do this! And left the place it falls, the mulch ought to suppress most annual weeds. (All elements of a diseased or suspect plant must be taken up and burnt, in fact.)
This simplified model of Ayruvedic gardening not solely suppresses weeds and is ecologically environment friendly. It additionally saves time and labour!