Maximize your space by growing vegetables together at the same time. For instance, tuck in quick-growing lettuce beside slower-growing cabbage, or plant tomatoes next to small radishes. For best results, you need to know several aspects about each vegetable to make sure they complement rather than compete with each other:
- Time to maturity so you can pair rapid growers with slow ones and harvest the speedy ones first.
- Size and growth habit, whether tall or short, large or small, upright or sprawling.
- Part of the plant you’re going to harvest: the roots or fruits or leafy growth.
- Growing season (cool-or warm-season crops) and soil/moisture conditions so you can match plants with the same requirements.
- Plant family – brassica, nightshade, legume or cucurbit. To avoid soil-borne diseases, don’t plant members of the same family together (tomatoes and potatoes, for instance).
- Adverse effects on other plants. For example, Jerusalem artichokes will inhibit the growth of neighbouring plants.
Once you’ve played matchmaker, plan out your space. You can interplant within a row (mingling leeks and parsley, for instance) or alternate full rows (radishes with carrots or onions with peppers). Use tall plants, such as corn or climbing pea vines, to provide shade for veggies, such as lettuce and spinach, that prefer cool soil. Although you’re planting intensively, don’t overcrowd the plants; good air circulation helps to prevent diseases.