Did you know that different plants, when planted together, can help one another in their journey to becoming healthy crops? Much like the isiXhosa proverb “umntu-ngumntu-ngabantu”, meaning “I am because we are”.
The practice of planting crops together is commonly referred to as companion planting and is vital to the health of especially smaller or backyard gardens, experts tell Food For Mzansi’s sister publication Health For Mzansi in this article.
According to Khayelitsha’s “Ghetto Gardener”, Ludwe Qamata, in companion planting they talk about diversifying your crop and planting according to crop families.
“Here, one crop is meant to protect the other. For instance, if one crop can withstand the pressure of the sun, it should be planted with one that cannot, so that they can share the energy absorbed by the stronger one from the sun,” Qamata explains.
Companion crops that work
The article also features backyard gardener Nomalanga Ruiters from Cape Town who explains why companion planting has been working well for her.
Living on the Cape Flats means that Ruiters and other passionate food growers struggle with access to quality, fertile soil. She says companion planting has aided her in maintaining soil fertility without the use of fertilisers.
“I plant many different crops, and the cabbage family often gets troubled by pests like cutworms and caterpillars.
“This plant family group consists of cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and kohlrabi. So, to relieve this family from the strain of these pests, we plant crops like mint, nasturtium, parsley and garlic,” Ruiters adds.
The article also shares a short list of crops that grow well together. These include tomatoes, marigolds, maize, beans and pumpkins.
Meanwhile, co-founder of Abalimi bezekhaya Rob Small also shares six of his personal favourite companion planting mechanisms.
Read the full article on Health For Mzansi.
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