How It Works
If you are a gardener wanting to switch from growing with pesticides to organic methods, it can be frustrating when you first start. Healthy soil produces healthy plants; however, if you have been using chemical fertilizers or pesticides in your garden, your soil may not be as healthy as you think. Chemical fertilizers feed the plant, not the soil, so when transitioning to using organic methods you may experience an increase of pests in your garden until you can get your soil fertility back. Using companion planting may be one way of making the transition a little less painful.
Dandelions may seem like a curse, but they can really be a blessing. Dandelion roots penetrate deep into the earth, absorbing some important nutrients that regular vegetable plants never get to. When you cut or pull out the dandelion, do this before it flowers and especially before it goes to seed. Either add it to your compost or work it back into your garden bed. It will add these hard-to-reach nutrients into your soil.
Nature will take care of herself, but most traditional gardens are not anywhere near a natural environment. We usually grow our veggies in monocrops, with veggies grown in straight rows—something that does not occur in nature. Instead, nature has a diverse variety of plants growing amongst each other. This variety is what companion planting is all about. A selection of plants grouped together usually will grow better than when grown in monocrops.
When designing your companion garden, you want to think of natural woodlands where plants and animals coexist and are part of a thriving system. Use organic materials such as mulch to add humus to your beds, thereby attracting earthworms. Grow a variety of tall and short plants together, and intermix flowers and herbs among your vegetable plants to help create a diverse garden space. These diverse plantings will mimic nature and create a natural life chain for plants, insects, and animals to live harmoniously, which is what Mother Nature is all about.