- Describe benefits of companion planting
- Provide specific examples of varieties that grow well together
It seems that the modern era of agriculture, specifically that time period since WWII, has become more complicated than necessary. Chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides all promise a brighter future but the evidence suggests something to the contrary.
Pests have become immune to the pesticides and are now superbugs. Weeds have done the same and no longer respond to herbicides unless they contain something so destructive – like the active ingredients in Agent Orange – that they leave in their wake a footprint that may never fade away. The same is true for fertilizers.
Where did we get this so wrong? For centuries, farmers have been managing just fine with knowledge, you know, the kind passed from father to son and neighbor to neighbor. Companion planting is one such example. It’s that little bit of sage advice that perhaps you can’t even recall where you first heard it but you know it works.
Tools & Materials
- Construction paper of various colors
- Popsicle sticks
- Three Sisters Garden
Introduction (10 minutes)
Begin the lesson by reading the Three Sisters Legend to the class. Describe the general benefits of companion planting and provide specific examples of varieties that pair well together.
Activity (20 minutes)
Prepare in advance: print the fruit and vegetable silhouettes and cut them out before class. Glue them to popsicle sticks choosing only varieties that you have started from seed already. Have the Students place the silhouette markers in the raised planter where they think those varieties should be transplanted. Then revise the plan by considering companion planting pairings. Leave the markers in the Raised Planter as this will be extended in the next lesson Breathing Room: Spacing plants for health and yield.
Discussion (10 minutes)
How will some of our companion pairings help each variety? What varieties could we add to create other pairings?
Assessment (5 minutes)
Use the following questions to assess the Students before and after the lesson. Tally the responses of the group in the Assessment Tracking Log for comparison:
- By a show of hands, how many of you think plants like some plants but not others? Why?
- Now that you know what companion planting is, how many of you think you could plant a garden based on companion relationships?
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