The Benefits of Companion Planting

Companion planting is also an essential component of the Mettlieder method of gardening as well as polyculture. Essentially it involves the planting of similar crops in close physical proximity to either draw pests or disease away from a plant, change it’s flavor or allow it to grow bigger.

Companion planting was very popular in the 1970s as part of the organic gardening movement. People were enchanted with the idea that different species of plant may thrive when planted close together.

One traditional practice was planting of corn and pole beans together. The cornstalk would serve as a trellis for the beans to climb. The inclusion of squash with these two plants completes the Three Sisters technique, pioneered by Native American peoples.

Here is a list of the benefits of companion planting –

  • Protective shelter – one larger type of plant type may serve as a wind break for a smaller variety
  • Shade cover – one plant may serve as shade from noonday sun, for another
  • Flavor enhancement — some plants, especially herbs, seem to subtly change the flavor of other plants around them.
  • To hedge your bets– multiple plants in the same space increase the odds of some yield being given, even if one type of plant doesn’t make it because of a pest infestation or weather conditions
  • As trellises for climbers– plants which grow on different levels in the same space, can provide ground cover or trellis for another plant
  • Nitrogen fixation – some plants infuse nitrogen in the ground, making it available to other plants as is the case with bean plants fixating nitrogen for corn plants
  • To repel pests– some plants can repel insects, or other pests like nematodes or fungi
  • To attract positive pests– this is a plant that attracts or hosts insects or other organisms which benefit adjacent plants, as with ladybugs or some “friendly nematodes” that work the soil
  • To trap pests– these are plants which attract pests away from others as is true of the marigold when it is planted near tomatoes
  • Root repellents —some plants give off substances through the root that are repellent or that kill or repel other plants (weeds) and insects

Aside from being practical and traditional, a garden with companion planting is also usually quite beautiful as the close plants give it a lush and verdant appearance.

Stocking Your Shelter or Pantry With Herbs is a Good Idea

In a medical emergency you may not have access to either prescription or herbal medicines. It is a really good idea for you to stock your pantry with assorted herbs that have healing properties either in the dried form or the liquid form.  It is easy to make your own.

Records of Native American, Roman, Egyptian and Hebrew medical practices shows that herbs have been used safely to cure almost every known illness for centuries.  Although herbs are considered to be natural keep in mind that they are in a sense drugs and should be labelled, respected and kept out of the wrong little hands. After all, all that the pharmaceutical industry really is a business that is solely based on their ability to isolate the powerful ingredient in these plants and sell them for a lot more money.  In Europe prescribing herbal remedies is as common as the prescribing of pharmaceutical drugs.

Many people believe that herbs are just as effective as drugs but without the side effects.  This is not always true.  A herb such as valerian, used for insomnia can cause dizziness and hallucinations. St. John’s Wort causes the same kind of photosensitivity to the sun that antidepressants and antibiotics do.  It is always a good idea to research an herb to see what its potential side effects are and write this on the jars that you store them in before you put them in your shelter.

Although it is true that herbs are less likely to cause side effects realize that many of them are very potent. You should also be aware that the compounds in some herbs also interact with other medications. For instance you would never take valerian in combination with a drug lorezapam unless you wanted to end up in a stupor that could lead to a coma.  Always consult with a physician if you are on long-term medication and wish to take herbs as well.


As a general rule of thumb herbs that are bitter tasting are medicinal herbs. Herbs that are more pleasant tasting can be used more often are the ones that we use to flavour food. Almost all roots and barks have natural fungicidal and bactericidal properties. Yet another thing to remember is that the fresher the herb is, the more potent it is.  The other good news is that it is easy to make your own tinctures, teas and herbs stuffed inside gelatine capsules.