This year I will try to maximise the space I have (to fit in the crazy amount of seedlings I have) by intercropping them within my beds
Intercropping is the act of making the most of the space you have by matching different crops that are able to share the same space. If you choose crops that grow at different speeds, heights or size then you can fill the negative space with the opposite plant. The only thing to make sure of is that everyone has enough food and water to go round.
For instance, tall and slow plants such as Brussel sprout or broccoli can be interplanted with short fast crops such as radish or lettuce. Radish and lettuce are also well matched with tall Brassica because they don’t mind being in the cool or shade, in fact it may actually help resist bolting.
Kale and beets can also be planted together – the Kale is tall and although it is crops faster than the other Brassica there will still be room for beets, neither of which require a lot of watering.
You can put fast and slow-growing together even if they are the same size. As an example, parsnip and carrot are both root vegetables that may be the same size but carrots grow quite fast where parsnips are not ready until Autumn. This means that when the carrots are ready to harvest it is just when the parsnips are starting to need more room. This can also be done with radish, beetroot and single harvest lettuce all of which are shallow rooted.
You can put things that grow vertically such as cucumber, melons or peas with low growing plants such as any root vegetable or salad leaf or herbs, or dwarf plants you know will not grow very tall such as bush tomato.
So to maximise space plant shallow roots with deep roots; fast with slow; or short plants next to tall ones.
Pictures to follow
Do you take advantage of intercropping? Which combinations do you find work well?