Multicropping is one of the best ways to utilize land and also
take advantage of complementary relationships between various
plants. Some plants act as pest controllers, some as nitrogen
fixers, some loosen up the soil, some just provide support to
another...so the interdependence goes on..
The picture on the left is an experiment that we did in quarter
acre with having a mix of Banana, Tur, Arecanut, Drumstick,
Alasandhe, Tomato and Water melon. Watering is done once in 7-8
days. The first crop to be harvested was Alasandhe (3-4 months),
followed by Tur(6-7 months). Tomatoes started after 3 months and
since the plants were never removed we continued to get
about 10kgs of tomato every week for almost 4 months. Drumstick and
water melon plants never thrived though...but we have seen
pretty good protection from a particular crop loss, which is not
possible in a monoculture. The tur plants and banana which
provides good shade have ensured survival of arecanut one of the
big challenges in the first year. Tur and Alasandhe being
legumes have helped in nitrogen fixing.
After the first year, we now have planted Coffee and Arecanut
between the tall banana plants. Banana plants are providing
ample shade to both Coffee and Arecanut. Arecanut is almost 3 ft
tall and Coffee which was planted in Dec'08 has already sprouted
many new leaves.
Another combination that we experimented was with Radish,
Carrot, Brinjal, Coriander, Chilli, Greens and Onion. Not all
the vegetables thrived...but certainly despite couple of
vegetables not coming up, it was not a disaster as there was at
least 2-3 vegetables which had thrived given a varied
combination that we had chosen.