Raising two or more crops in the same area at the same time is referred to as either intercropping or interplanting. There are several ways in which intercropping can benefit gardening practices:
Pest and Disease Control:
Intercropping can reduce a wide range of pest problems, because insects seem to recognize large areas of a single vegetable better than isolated or interplanted plants. Insects and diseases may also spread more slowly when they infested a mix of host and non-host plants compared to an infestation of an areas with only one vegetable.
Structure and foliage:
Intercropping involves using plants with opposite structure and foliage. Plants that have large structures such as leaves, such as corn and squash provide shelter for climbing vines such as beans.
Consider the amount of time it takes a vegetable species to mature and try to intercroop slow growing vegetables with fast growing vegetables. Small vegetables such as radish and lettuce may be interplanted between tomatoes oand other large vegetables. They will mature and can be removed before the tomatoes need the space
Vegetable species have different vertical requirements and can be grown on trellises. Squash, beans, cucumbers, peas, melons and tomatoes are just a few examples.
Narrow leafed plants such as onions, leeks, shallots and garlic can easily fit between many leafy vegetables.
During the main growing period, usually May through August, the sun is at its brightest. Consider interplanting cooler weather crops, such as beans, beets, chard, leeks, lettuce, peas, radishes or turnips, in between sun-loving plants. This can extend their season by benefiting from the shade of taller warm crop.
Blog by: Sabine Ehlers, CMG
Source: UT Exension PB1578
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