Intercropping Spring Greens and Companions

Make the most of your garden space! Intercropping spring greens with other spring crops allows for maximum usage of space, helps keeps weeds down, and keeps the soil covered and thus moist. Additionally, many spring veggies and herbs are mutually beneficial “companions”.

Plant root crops such as radishes, carrots, onions, and beets, with leafy greens, peas, or brassicas (kale, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, etc).

Here are some ideas:

Plant cabbage, broccoli, kale or cauliflower, with onions or leaks.  You can plant them at the same time in alternating rows, or plant the cabbages first and pop onions in the spaces in between.  Make sure to keep in mind that onions do best with full sun, so you may need to trim cabbage leaves that grow too big and might shade the onions.

Kale and winter leeks

Leaf lettuce blends can be grown as a “ground cover” under broccoli and summer crops such as peppers or okra. Summer crops grow up and shade the lettuces helping to slow bolting by a week or two. Sow the lettuce seed, then transplant summer crops into the lettuce bed.

A classic spring companion is peas and carrots. Plant a central row of peas on a trellis with a narrow row of carrots on each side.


Peas planted with carrots

Use fast growing radishes to pop into vacant spaces and narrow rows between peas, and head lettuces.

Leaks and onions can be grown with strawberries.  When spring strawberry foliage is starting, plant onions and leeks between strawberry plants and their tops will stick up above the strawberries. As the strawberries die back in summer the onions will mature.

Beets grow well with spinach and since the leaves of beets are also edible, you can harvest spinach and beet greens together.

Consider growing tall plants in the center of a companion planting and shorter ones towards the walkways and paths. For instance one bed might be endive on the edge, beets next, broccoli in the center, carrots next, and spinach on the other edge. The plants that you harvest most often are the ones that should be on the edges (greens), the ones in the middle should be the tallest and/or ones that you harvest only once or periodically.

Tuck companion herbs or flowers in to spare spaces.  Marigolds can be planted between cabbages to help deter insects.  You can also cut the marigolds back if they grow to big and unruly and use the trimmings to make a Miracle Marigold Spray.

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