Organic Gardening Intercropping

Intercropping is the agricultural practice of cultivating two or more crops in the same space at the same time (Andrews & Kassam 1976). A practice often associated with sustainable agriculture and organic farming, it is one form of polyculture, and may benefit crop yield or the control of some kind of pest, or may have other agronomic benefits.
- Wikiopedia

The bottom line, this type of organic gardening plant integration allows for greater plant diversity for increased crop production and pest control.

Benefits of Organic Gardening Intercropping

Intercropping

Examples of Organic Gardening Intercopping

  • Vertical spacing. When you intercrop your vegetables consider the vertical spacing available in your garden. Vegetables species have different verticle requirements and can be grown on trellises. Squash, beans, cucumbers, peas, melons and tomatoes are just a few examples.
  • Direct Sun. During the main growing period, usually May through August the sun is at its brightest. The sun’s location governs where you might locate low growing or tall growing plants. Locate tall plants on the north (south in the southern hemisphere) side of the garden. The sun will heat the south part of the garden for heat loving plants. Alternately, if you locate tall plants on the south side of the garden there will be light shade on the north side to include shade-loving plants. Shade-loving plants that can be intercropped with sun-loving plants include beans, beets, chard, leeks, lettuce, peas, radishes, and turnips.
  • Structure and foliage. Intercropping also involves using plants with opposite structure and foliage. Plants that have large structures or leaves, such as corn and squash, can provide a shelter and filtered sun for lower, larger leaved plants such as lettuce. Corn stalks also provide support for vegetable vines.
  • Timing. If you time your plantings correctly this will also help to inter-plant your vegetables. Lettuce can handle the light sun of spring and fall, but requires protection during the heat of summer. When lettuce receives too much heat they tend to bolt (go to seed). Also keep in mind the length of time it takes a vegetable species to mature; radishes for example are super fast maturing, while peppers may take the entire summer. Try to intercrop slow growing vegetables with fast growing vegetables.
  • Inserted vegetables. Many narrow leafed plants such as onions, leeks, shallots, and garlic can easily fit between many leafy vegetables. But, consider the plant's feeding requirements. Plants placed close together will compete for nutrients in the root zone. Select plants that have different feeding requirements.

Intercropping Combinations

I've taken the liberty of combining the intercropping with a tradition approach called companion planting for simplicity sake. I believe in keeping it simple. Companion planting in my opinion is not an exact science, but it points to some very interesting combinations and many oraganic gardeners swear by it.

The table below was compiled from traditional literature on companion planting, which to me is intercropping.

Crop

Intercrop With

Asparagus

Tomato, Parsley, Basil

Bush Beans

Potato, Cucumber, Corn, Strawberry, Celery, Summer Savory

Pole Beans

Corn, Summer Savory, Radish

Cabbage Family

Aromatic Herbs, Celery, Beets, Onion Family, Chamomile, Spinach, Chard

Carrots

Radishes, Lettuce, Rosemary, Onion Family, Sage, Tomato

Celery

Onion, Cabbage Families, Tomato, Bush Beans, Nasturtium

Corn

Potato, Beans, Pumpkins, Cucumber, Squash

Eggplant

Beans, Marigold

Lettuce

Carrots, Radish, Strawberry, Cucumber

Onion Family

Beets, Carrots, Lettuce, Cabbage Family, Summer Savory

Parsley

Tomato, Asparagus

Potato

Beans, Corn, Cabbage Family, Marigolds, Horseradish

Pumpkins

Beans, Corn, Marigold

Radish

Carrots, Nasturtium, Lettuce, Cucumber

Spinach

Strawberry, Beans

Squash

Nasturtium, Corn, Marigold

Tomato

Onion Family, Nasturtium, Marigold, Asparagus, Carrots, Parsley, Cucumber

Turnip

Aromatic Herbs, Celery, Beets, Onion Family, Chamomile, Spinach, Chard

Intercropping for Pest Control

Intercropping reduces pests in a variety of ways, including:

Chemical Repellent - These plants provide odors that confuse and ward off pests. This works best in intensive intercropping.

Parasitic Wasp Host Plant - These plants provide food and shelter for parasitic wasps as they search for pests.

Parasitic Wasp Increase - Intercropping plants attract parasitic wasps as a food source from either the plant or the pests.

Physical Interference - These plants "get in the way" of the pest as either a physical barrier or life cycle interference.

Predator Increase - These plants act as a food source or breeding ground for beneficial insects as they search out for pests.

Trap Crop - Another form of Intercropping is Trap cropping. Trap cropping encourages pests to congregate, which makes it easier for beneficial insects to prey and for handpicking.

Visual Masking - These plants provide a visual mask that confuses the pest or concealed the main crop.

Pest Control Intercropping Matrix

Pest Reduced

Crop

Intercrop With

Function Of Intercrop

Aphids

Bean Aphid

Apple

Eryngium sp.

Parasitic Wasp Increase

Green Peach Aphid

Phacelia sp.

Parasitic Wasp Increase

Pea Aphid

Barley

Alfalfa

Parasitic Wasp Increase

Woolly Apple Aphid

Red Clover

Parasitic Wasp Increase

Parasitic Wasp Increase

Brussels Sprouts

White Clover

Visual Masking

Clover

Physical Interference

Visual Masking

French Beans

Physical Interference

Cabbage

Red Clover

Physical Interference

White Clover

Predator Increase

Cauliflower

Corn Spurry

Predator Increase

Red Clover

Physical Interference

White Clover

Predator Increase

Collards

Weedy groundcover

Parasitic Wasp Increase

French Beans

Weedy groundcover

Physical Interference

General Organic Garden Crops

Queen Anne's Lace

Trap Crop

Parasitic Wasp Increase

Lamb's Quarter

Trap Crop

Annual Sow thistle

Trap Crop

Kale

Kale

Visual Masking

Red Clover

Predator Increase

Squash

Catnip

Chemical Repellent

Tansy

Chemical Repellent

Asparagus Beetle

Asparagus

Tomato

Chemical Repellent

Blue Sharpshooter

Grapes

Blackberry

Parasitic Wasp Host Plant

Cabbage Lopper

Cole Crops

Similar Sized Crops

Chemical Repellent

Predator Increase

Cauliflower

Corn Spurry

Predator Increase

Cabbage Maggot

Cole Crops

Similar Sized Crops

Chemical Repellent

Predator Increase

Turnip

White Clover

Chemical Repellent

Brussels Sprouts

White Clover

Visual Masking

Cabbage

Clover

Predator Increase

Carrots Rust Fly

Carrots

Onion

Chemical Repellent

Codling Moth

Apple

Weedy groundcover

Parasitic Wasp Increase

Colorado Potato Beetle

Potato

Catnip

Chemical Repellent

Nasturtium

Chemical Repellent

Tansy

Chemical Repellent

Corn Earworm

Soybean

Cassia sp.

Parasitic Wasp Increase

Croton sp.

Parasitic Wasp Increase

Desmodium sp.

Parasitic Wasp Increase

Soybean

Corn

Parasitic Wasp Increase

Weedy ground cover

Parasitic Wasp Increase

Corn

Soybean

Predator Increase

Cutworms

Corn

Wild Parsnip

Parasitic Wasp Increase

Chickweed

Wild Parsnip

Parasitic Wasp Increase

Lady's Thumb Smartweed

Parasitic Wasp Increase

Shepherds Purse

Parasitic Wasp Increase

Wild Mustard

Parasitic Wasp Increase

Wild Parsnip

Parasitic Wasp Increase

Diamondback Moth

Cabbage

Hawthorn

Trap Crop

Tomato

Physical Interference

European Corn Borer

Corn

Giant Ragweed

Trap Crop

Peanuts

Visual Masking

Fall Armyworm

Corn

Beans

Predator Increase

Physical Interference

Predator Increase

Beggertick

Predator Increase

Goldenrod

Predator Increase

Mexican Tea

Predator Increase

Pigweed

Predator Increase

Pigweed

Parasitic Wasp Increase

Flea Beetles

Collards

Weedy ground cover

Visual Masking

Cauliflower

Corn Spurry

Predator Increase

Red Clover

Physical Interference

White Clover

Predator Increase

Cabbage

White Clover

Chemical Repellent

Tomato

Cabbage

Chemical Repellent

Collards

Tobacco

Chemical Repellent

Tomato

Chemical Repellent

Wild Mustard

Predator Increase

Ragweed

Chemical Repellent

Tomato

Chemical Repellent

Cole Crops

Candytuft

Chemical Repellent

Shepherds Purse

Chemical Repellent

Wormseed Mustard

Chemical Repellent

Green Peach Aphid

Peppers

Catnip

Chemical Repellent

Nasturtium

Chemical Repellent

General Organic Garden Crops

Broccoli

Parasitic Wasp Increase

Radish

Broccoli

Parasitic Wasp Increase

Collards

Lamb's Quarter

Predator Increase

Pigweed

Predator Increase

Xanthium stramonium

Predator Increase

Greenhouse Whitefly

General Organic Garden Crops

Queen Anne's Lace

Trap Crop

Parasitic Wasp Increase

Trap Crop

Rose Geraniums

Trap Crop

Harlequin Bug

Cabbage

Mustard

Trap Crop

Imported Cabbageworm

Cole Crops

Similar Sized Crops

Chemical Repellent

Predator Increase

Chemical Repellent

Cauliflower

Red Clover

Physical Interference

White Clover

Predator Increase

Broccoli

Catnip

Predator Increase

Tansy

Predator Increase

Brussels Sprouts

Weedy ground cover

Predator Increase

Cabbage

Green Manure Crop

Visual Masking

Anise

Chemical Repellent

Cauliflower

Lamb's Quarter

Predator Increase

Brussels Sprouts

White Clover

Visual Masking

Japanese Beetles

General Organic Garden Crops

Queen Anne's Lace

Parasitic Wasp Increase

Orchard Crops

Knotweed

Trap Crop

Marigolds

Trap Crop

Roses (White)

Trap Crop

Soybean

Trap Crop

Zinnias

Trap Crop

Leaf Beetles

Corn

Beans

Predator Increase

Physical Interference

Predator Increase

Soybean

Barley

Predator Increase

Wheat

Predator Increase

Peas

Sorghum

Chemical Repellent

Corn

Sweet Potatoes

Parasitic Wasp Increase

Leafhoppers

Corn

Beans

Predator Increase

Physical Interference

Predator Increase

Beans

Goosegrass

Chemical Repellent

Red Spragletop

Chemical Repellent

Mexican Bean Beetle

Soybean

Beans

Trap Crop

Mites

Grapes

Johnson Grass

Predator Increase

Kale

Predator Increase

Sudan Grass

Predator Increase

Fruit Trees

Alder

Predator Increase

Rye

Predator Increase

Sorghum mulch

Predator Increase

Wheat

Predator Increase

Oriental Fruit Moth

Peach

Strawberry

Predator Increase

Goldenrod

Predator Increase

Lamb's Quarter

Chemical Repellent

Ragweed

Chemical Repellent

Smartweed

Chemical Repellent

San Jose Scale

Apple

Eryngium sp.

Parasitic Wasp Increase

Phacelia sp.

Parasitic Wasp Increase

Southern Green Stink Bug

Soybean

Sicklepod

Trap Crop

Southwestern Corn Borer

Corn

Clover

Physical Interference

Spotted Cucumber Beetle

Squash

Corn

Physical Interference

Striped Cucumber Beetle

Squash

Corn

Physical Interference

Cucumber

Broccoli

Physical Interference

Corn

Physical Interference

Tent Caterpillars

Apple

Weedy ground cover

Parasitic Wasp Increase

Thrips

Avocado Thrip

Squash

Corn

Predator Increase

Citrus Thrips

Pea

Predator Increase

Onions

Carrots

Visual Masking

Tomato Hornworm

Tomato

Borage

Trap Crop

Dill

Trap Crop

Woolly Apple Aphid

Fruit Trees

Nasturtium

Chemical Repellent

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