How to Intercrop in a Vegetable Garden

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You can intercrop in a vegetable garden in a very particular way to actually free up a lot of space for bigger and better veggies. Intercrop in a vegetable garden with help from a longtime gardener and blogger in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: Berry Gardening, Fertilizers & Vegetables
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Amy from Atlanta, and I'm going to talk a little bit about intercropping in a vegetable garden. Intercropping is a way to get a lot more food out of the space that you have. If you are working with just a little bit of area, it can help you kind of double up what you are growing. The most, the oldest and most traditional intercropping method that I know of, is the three sisters' gardens that were raised by Native Americans. They planted corn and vining beans and squash all basically in the same place and they all used different kind of parts of the space so that the corn would go in and provide a pole for the bean to climb up and then the squash would go underneath and act as a cover or a mulch for the soil and so the space was used really effectively and efficiently and you could get more total food out of the space than if you had separated all those plants into separate groups. And so in a small garden, there are sometimes, there are people who still do three sisters' gardens but corn, you know, needs a lot more space. But in your own little garden, you can also plant traditionally like spinach or lettuce, next to radishes because even though they'll be really, the spacing will be really close, but the radishes will come up first because lettuces and spinach are a little bit slower and radishes are you know, fast off the starting line, and they'll finish first and so while those are being harvested, the lettuce is just then starting to get to the point where it's going to be harvested too and so you can have two crops out of that same space at the exact same time and there are lots of other ways to use intercropping in your garden. If you have a tall plant like corn and you have a vining plant that's going to go all over the ground and take up space like sweet potatoes, if they are planted next to each other, then you can aim those sweet potato vines underneath the corn so that they kind of cover up that soil and keep it cooler and a little bit, you know, more shaded and more moist. That's a good efficient use of that space and otherwise it would be wasted and those sweet potato vines then are not all over your yard which they would tend to be because they just sprawl like crazy. And another way to use intercropping is to think about how you plant things, are going to grow things seasonally. So if you have lettuce growing in the Spring and you know that you're going to want to have tomatoes also, kind of in that same space at some point, you can go ahead and plan your spinach, I mean your lettuce in a way that when you finally put that tomato plant in, it's going to help shade that lettuce because lettuce doesn't like hot weather but tomatoes love hot weather and so that tomato plant as it comes up and grows can shade that tomato plant that might be right nearby and help it along. So there are lots of different ways to think about how you can plant things together, either in the same space or right next to each other and ways that help you save room in your garden and that double up your production just a little bit so you can get more food out of the space that you have and I have here not many left because we've been eating most of these radishes, I have a few radishes still between these two little rows of carrots, I mean of lettuce and I've been picking the leaves off because my bunnies really love to eat radish leaves but there are still a few left and you know, those are almost gone but as they, as we get the rest of them out, the lettuces are starting to fill out and there will be nice big heads and I didn't lose any space on a separate little area for the radishes. So that's how to use intercropping in your garden. So this was Amy from talking about intercropping.


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