Wild + free + jamming with life

30th Nov potager

Dear Gardeners,

As you gear up for your spring and summer planting here’s a phrase I’m chucking out for you to ponder – relay intercropping. Its like companion planting on steroids and will take the health of your vegie patch next level.

In a nutshell, it’s plant combos of different root depths and nutrient needs that support each other to be great at the same time creating a flow of constant ground cover without the empty bed syndrome in between. This varied, living soil cover comes with a big pool of microbial soil helpers – and these guys are the key!

The bigger the range of soil life, the more garden jobs you tick off ergo the less you need do + buy-in. Microbes sort converting and distributing minerals, protection from pests + disease, humus building, carbon capture +

The more variety in plants above = more variety in life below = stronger soil = less fert = saving the planet one microbe at a time = best gardener.

Densely planted perennial gardens are best at creating this microbial haven, but can we get close to the same level of below ground action in our annual gardens I wonder? For the past few years, I’ve been playing with plant combinations and relay intercropping to see if I can keep a constant living cover happening on most of my vegetable beds. The plant combos are well worked round here, but the constant ground cover adds a new and exciting layer that takes a bit of thinking about. Its a work in progress!

Last years winner combo was peas (nitrogen + living mulch), oats (big roots + chop and drop mulch), nasturtium (pollinators + living mulch) and pumpkin that flowed beautifully into carrots and calendula sown amongst the finishing crops. No need to cover the carrot seed, the ground was already covered plus heaps less carrot fly. It’s wild and I love it! This year I’m excited about my dwarf bean, zucchinni and zinnia combo planted into buckwheat + phacelia. Garden happiness!

Yours in the earth, Kath

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