Real Men Sow

Five Twitter Inspired Intercropping Ideas to Try

dougsintercrop

After posting about my experiments with intercropping earlier in the week, I had a great half hour so chatting on Twitter about other gardener’s intercropping ideas.

I found the time really useful, so a big thanks to all who got involved. Twitter is ace for this kind of thing, so if you don’t have an account, I’d recommend getting involved.

Given how handy I found all the input for my own mix and match intercropping experiments, I thought I’d try and summarise some of the best bits in a blog post.

Broad Beans and Potatoes
Douglas, of Sweet Pea Salads, (follow on Twitter @sweetpeasalads) grows his broad beans and potatoes together (pictured). The beds are 4 feet wide, and planted 3 potatoes across. Douglas then plants his broad beans as a double row on top to poke through.

Sweetcorn and Dwarf French Beans
Douglas also grows his sweetcorn amongst French beans. By choosing a dwarf bean variety, they will grow underneath the sweetcorn plants whilst also supporting the corn plants. With some sweetcorn plants to go out, and another sowing of French beans planned for July I’ll definitely be trying this intercrop.

Spinach and Broad Beans
Being a vegetable that likes some shade, spinach is idea for planting in between rows of broad bean plants. This is an intercropping idea that Emma from Crafty Garden Hoe (@craftygardenhoe) employs.

Beetroot and Squash
I was really intrigued by this idea from the London Herb Garden (@ldnherbgarden), especially considering that the squashes are trailed up a wigwam. The beets are grown around the squash plants and the squash runners gently coaxed up poles as they develop.

I love this intercrop, as it is ambitious, a good use of space and very decorative.

Sweetcorn, Runner Beans and Pumpkins
On the blog, Tigger’s Mum from My Cat’s Driving the Wheelbarrow described the three veg grouping that she uses. The combo includes tall sweet corn and runner beans, with an undercrop of pumpkins. The pumpkin leaves keep the corn roots cool in the heat of summer and the spent corn (and beans) get pulled up to allow the pumpkins to ripen in late autumn.

All great suggestions from ingenious gardeners, but I’ve got to leave you with this intercropping masterpiece. It’s a photo of Roy and Tania’s plot, from Pushing Up Dandelions (@gotalottie).

Roy and Tania reckon intercropping is the best way to grow, as it provides better use of beds and lessens the impact of pests and disease.

roytania

I’m still trying to work out how many examples of intercropping there are in the photo…

Once again, a big thanks to everyone offered up ideas.

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4 Comments

  1. david shinnJune 25, 2013 at 8:59 amReply

    Hi Jono,
    One of the better uses of Twitter that I’ve seen.
    The pushingupdandelions plot is the one that I aspire to.
    Once again this year my neatly planned crop rotation is going out of the window less than three months into the planting season ,with the few remaining spaces to be filled and new ones about to be created (eg where I’ll be lifting new potatoes next week?).
    I was going to sow yet more dwarf beans around the existing sweetcorn and the last lot of courgettes to be planted out but now intend to mix in lettuce,radish and Cylindra beetroot as well ,to keep me supplied later in the season.

  2. Jono

    JonoJune 25, 2013 at 9:14 pmReplyAuthor

    Hi David,

    Its amazing, isn’t it? Just love the way it is so ordered, but still looks attractive, if that makes sense?

    I’ve put my sweetcorn out tonight, in with the courgettes. Like you, I’ve got little space left.

    I am following a plan, but I’ve not quite got it right and am down a wigwam.

    Doesn’t help that things are late. Was hoping to have broad beans out soonish so I could plant more beets and French beans in the space.

    The sweetcorn seems such a great plant for intercropping, as it grows straight up and leaves lots of space below for dwarf plants. I gave up growing sweetcorn on the allotment as the badgers snaffled it every year, but now I’m in my garden I’m trying again.

    Every year brings a different challenge. :)

  3. HelenJune 26, 2013 at 1:21 pmReply

    Some really good ideas here.
    My mum always plants a row of onions followed by a row of carrots, and then onions and carrots again. Its supposed to keep carrot fly away as the onion smell disguises the smell or carrots.
    Unfortunately it didn’t work for me last year as we have a massive problem with carrot fly on our allotments, but it works for her every year.

  4. Jono

    JonoJune 26, 2013 at 9:07 pmReplyAuthor

    Hey Helen,

    Apparently if you grow carrot fly a couple of feet up, the carrot fly stay away as they can’t fly that high. Lots of people at our allotments grow carrots in containers to achieve the height.

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meIn 2007, I took on a redundant allotment plot with my gardening-mad mum Jan. As all good mums do, she went along with it, but I don’t think she held out much hope.

However, three years on, and she now lets me do stuff without watching over my shoulder, so I must be doing something right. [ read more ]

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