Mischkultur: Zuckermais, Randen, Edamame - 16. April 2019
Polyculture also know as mixed vegetable gardening is the process of growing different species of plants together, these can include vegetable plants, herbs, flowers or even fruit plants.
If you think about it, in the wild, you always come across different plants growing one beside the other.
Polyculture presents many advantages:
- Lower competition for nutrients: when growing a high number of plants of the same species, these consume the same nutrients in the ground, there is therefore a high rate of competition, if different plants however tend to consume different nutrients, lowerng the competition and creating more balance.
- Lower incidence of pests and diseases: the difference in colours, shapes and smells that is created when growing different plants together, can confuse pests, which won't spread as easily as if they were targeting many plants of the same species. Also it can happen that some pests are repelled by certain plants while attracted to some others, in this case the repelling plants could be grown beside the others to help keep out the pests.
- Lower weeds. Given that the density of plants is higher there is less space for weeds to grow.
The idea is to mimic nature and create a situation that is similar to a forest garden (but obviously much smaller) with a canopy, under storey, ground cover, roots and climbers.
This means that plants occupy different spaces above and below the ground.
Planting should be carefully timed with early ground plants, then later crops and the cover plants eventually give way to the slower growing ones.
Use plants from different families and with a diversity of leaf shape, colour, texture and scent to prevent pest problems and improve the soil.
Here is an example of mixed culture...