Companion planting in gardening and agriculture is the planting of different crops in proximity for pest control, pollination, providing habitat for beneficial creatures, maximizing use of space, and to otherwise increase crop productivity. Companion planting is a form of polyculture.
Companion planting is used by farmers and gardeners in both industrialized and developing countries for many reasons. Many of the modern principles of companion planting were present many centuries ago in cottage gardens in England and home gardens in Asia, and thousands of years ago in Mesoamerica.
The use of companion planting can be of benefit to the grower in a number of different ways, including:
Hedged investment – the growing of different crops in the same space increases the odds of some yield being given, even if one crop fails.
Increased level interaction – when crops are grown on different levels in the same space, such as providing ground cover or one crop working as a trellis for another, the overall yield of a plot may be increased.
Protective shelter is when one type of plant may serve as a wind break or provide shade for another.
Pest suppression – some companion plants may help prevent pest insects or pathogenic fungi from damaging the crop, through chemical means.
Predator recruitment and positive hosting – The use of companion plants that produce copious nectar or pollen in a vegetable garden (insectary plants) may help encourage higher populations of beneficial insects that control pests, as some beneficial predatory insects only consume pests in their larval form and are nectar or pollen feeders in their adult form.
Trap cropping – some companion plants are claimed to attract pests away from others.
Pattern disruption – in a monoculture pests spread easily from one crop plant to the next, whereas such easy progress may be disrupted by surrounding companion plants of a different type.
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