Grow Your Own Magazine

Navbar button growfruitandveg.co.uk Logo
Forum Navigation

+ Reply to Thread
Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 8 of 19
  1. #1
    Rossa is offline Rooter
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Bingley, West Yorks
    Posts
    276

    Default Underplanting - help me understand it

    I've seen some people refer to underplanting their veg. As a newbie to growing veg and wanting to make best use of my available space could someone explain what this means? And suggest some combinations please.

    Would the underplant need to be one that doesn't need so much light if it is partially shaded by a larger plant?

    Thanks for any help.
    _________________________
    "..I went from adolescence to senility, trying to bypass maturity.." Tom Lehrer

  2. #2
    magz.mccarthy's Avatar
    magz.mccarthy is offline Sprouter
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    East Finchley, London
    Posts
    187

    Default

    Hi Rossa,

    There's a common companion planting method called the 3 sisters that you may like to try - you grow sweet corn in a grid pattern. You then grow climbing beans using the corn as support stalks. Around the base you grow courgettes. This means the corn supports the beans and the courgette smothers the weeds. This probably means that courgettes aren't so fussy about sun either so could be grown under anything?

    I haven't tried this approach myself, but i've heard that it is great if you can get the timing right so that your beans don't grow up faster than your corn and end up falling sideways.

    Margaret

  3. #3
    Eyren's Avatar
    Eyren is offline Cropper
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Cambridge
    Posts
    1,112

    Default

    You can grow fast growing crops between slower ones, e.g. radishes, baby turnips or kohl rabi between, say, winter broccoli, kale, parsnips or leeks; or you can grow crops that like a bit of shade underneath taller crops, e.g. lettuce under a wigwam of beans. Squash is often grown under sweetcorn because the squash plant needs a lot of space for its long trailing vines and huge leaves whereas sweetcorn is tall and narrow and doesn't create too much shade, so the squash fruits still get enough sun to ripen (assuming we get any sun, that is!).

    I usually grow garlic around my outdoor tomatoes, since the garlic doesn't take up much space and is ready to harvest before the tomato plants get really big (also garlic is a good companion plant for tomatoes).

  4. #4
    djhs196's Avatar
    djhs196 is offline Sprouter
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Hertford, Herts
    Posts
    107

    Default

    Most people use underplanting / intercropping to make the best use of space - it's like trying to get two crops out of the same bit of land.

    Intercropping tends to have two crops that have different growth rates - you could plant radishes on the same bit of land as your cabbages. And a long time before the cabbages needed the space, the radishes would have been long gone

    Under cropping something like sweetcorn with dwarf French beans or salads is usually done as the beans / salads can stand a bit of shade, and don't compete for the same light / space / nutrients. Peas or beans fix nitrogen which is in turn used by the sweetcorn. The idea is that everyone wins - 3 sisters planting is a well known one for sweetcorn. I only do 2 sisters

    A different reason for undercropping can also be to help reduce damage from pests - underplanting brassicas with clover, for example, is said to reduce damage by cabbage whites. The butterflies check potential site vegetation to see that it's "mostly" something appropriate before laying eggs. The fact that cover is among the cabbages, means that the butterfly think it's a less tasty site and it may move on. Like the above tho, the cover also fixes nitrogen which is taken up by the cabbage.
    Douglas

    Website: www.sweetpeasalads.co.uk - starting up in 2013 (I hope!)
    Twitter: @sweetpeasalads

  5. #5
    magz.mccarthy's Avatar
    magz.mccarthy is offline Sprouter
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    East Finchley, London
    Posts
    187

    Default

    Hi Douglas,

    How do you time the planting so that the corn is tall enough to support the peas/beans? I've never grown corn before, is it fast-growing?

    Margaret

  6. #6
    djhs196's Avatar
    djhs196 is offline Sprouter
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Hertford, Herts
    Posts
    107

    Default

    When i underplant Sweetcorn, it's with a dwarf variety with only grows to about a foot high so it doesn't need much in the support - it just has a few twigs in the ground
    Douglas

    Website: www.sweetpeasalads.co.uk - starting up in 2013 (I hope!)
    Twitter: @sweetpeasalads

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    hythe kent
    Posts
    467

    Default

    I found doing the 3 sisters really cut down on the lifespan of the beans & courgettes plants ie less crop and also a nightmare spotting/picking your beans/courg's. But then its always worth trying again & again and maybe oneday mastering the art

  8. #8
    Demeter's Avatar
    Demeter is offline Cropper
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Gloucester, UK
    Posts
    1,259

    Default

    I was thinking of trying 2 or 3 sisters this year.
    I figured that if the beans / squash were the kind that don't need to be harvested regularly (beans for drying, pumpkins??) then it wouldn't matter if it was hard to get in there. Or maybe use yellow beans / courgettes so they are easier to spot?

    It also occurred to me to use Sewer Rat's tip from a recent thread to pop a bean seed in the hole when planting out the sweetcorn plants, so the bean comes up only once the corn is well established. Thoughts?
    Last edited by Demeter; 26-03-2009 at 09:11 PM.
    Warning: I have a dangerous tendency to act like I know what I'm talking about.

Similar Threads

  1. Underplanting Sweetcorn
    By peanut in forum Vegging Out
    Replies: 17
    Last Post: 06-06-2010, 08:03 PM
  2. Underplanting Raspberries
    By basketcase in forum Feeling Fruity
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 01-10-2009, 04:03 PM
  3. I dont understand some people
    By allotmentlady in forum General chitchat
    Replies: 20
    Last Post: 05-04-2009, 08:14 PM
  4. I no understand.....
    By wellie in forum General chitchat
    Replies: 19
    Last Post: 06-01-2009, 12:27 AM
  5. Because you're the only ones who will understand...
    By Seahorse in forum General chitchat
    Replies: 41
    Last Post: 12-01-2008, 06:39 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts