What is companion planting?
Companion planting means to grow plants together who actually get on. This is important because if you are not aware of which plants are better grown together, you could in fact cause a havoc of a garden whereby pests are attracted in large quantities which will leave you with little or no crops to harvest!
People are not made aware of the benefits flowers bring to an edible garden. Besides the fact that they bring your beautiful pollinators together, (i.e. your butterflies, your bees and even your bats and birds!) they also attract your ladybirds which are an effective solution to pest control. Many other 'beneficial' bugs are also attracted by flowers, both edible flowers as well as ornamental. Without realising these benefits, we are quick to believe that flowers will take up valuable space in our edible landscape, but the truth is, our harvest would be greater when produce is grown amongst flowers.
Rather than planting in rows, companion planting suggests planting with separation between plants which fight for the same nutrients. This is so that they get the full amount of what they need, rather than have to share it with each other, thus resulting in higher vitamin and minerals for us to intake. The reason you would separate them, yet still plant them together, is because they can benefit from each other. For example, did you know that Cucumbers grow best by Sunflowers? This is because they do not fight over the same nutrients which results in cucumbers retaining their natural sweetness. A sweetness we're not familiar with because it gets lost in large-scale, corporate farming because they fight for same nutrients being lined in rows and rows. The sunflower would create a natural trellis for the cucumber when planted together at the right times.
Companion planting goes line-in-line with succession sowing.
Succession sowing is when you plant something else immediately after harvesting another crop. This leads to having a continuous cycle of different crops to harvest. The reason succession sowing and companion planting goes line in line, is simply because, the waste from harvesting one crop would be used to lay back onto the soil as you plant the next seasonal crop. With this, the same nutrients to which were taken from the soil for the first season, is then laid back into the soil from the decomposition of the 'waste'. This nourishes the soil and thus, you have create your own soil enricher without the need to turn the soil.
Why should I not turn the soil, I hear you wondering. Turning the soil, plowing it, disturbing it in any way, causes a disturbance in the soil's ecology. It confuses the job roles of the bacteria, the fungi, the earth worms and other micro-organisms which naturally aerate our soils. Instead, create a mulch. Put back the 'waste' from your previous harvest and allow it to slowly release the nutrients back into the ground. This technique will also help to keep weeds down as they will struggle to come through the laid, fresh compost.
When you disturb the soil, the beneficial bugs look for more stable grounds to settle in. So let them do their job, as you do yours.