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Volume 29 Issue 6
March/April 2024

My Thoughts are Turning to Gardening
Featuring the Benefits of Interplanting

Planning Your Open-Pollinated Garden For Seed Saving, Part 2

Jin Shin Therapy
“A Simple Art for Complicated Times”

Preparing for Surgery

Transforming Loss into Legacy: Honouring Loved Ones and Finding Purpose

From Participant to Facilitator: Embracing Holistic Healing Retreats

The Culinary Pharmacy: Intuitive Eating, Ancestral Healing, and Your Personal Nutrition Plan by Lisa Masé

An Easter Fantasy Story


My Thoughts are Turning to Gardening
Featuring the Benefits of Interplanting

by Stacey Wiebe
Stacey Wiebe

Spring is upon us and with that, my thoughts invariably turn to gardening. As organic farmers, my partner and I strive to turn away from mono-cropping on a large scale, and incorporate more diverse species in our fields where we produce our grains and oilseeds. Not only is this a good practice in farming, but it is also an excellent practice in our home gardens.

Gardening is not just about growing food; it’s about cultivating a harmonious ecosystem where plants, animals, and humans coexist. One innovative approach that has gained popularity in recent years is interplanting, a gardening technique that involves growing flowers and vegetables together in the same space. This practice is rooted in the principles of agroecology, emphasizing the importance of biodiversity, ecological balance, and sustainable food production. In this article, I will explore the numerous benefits of interplanting flowers and vegetables, examining how this promotes biodiversity, enhances pest control, improves soil health, and contributes to a more aesthetically pleasing and sustainable garden.

Interplanting flowers and vegetables in the garden is a strategic move to enhance biodiversity. By introducing a variety of plant species, gardeners create a more resilient and balanced ecosystem. Flowers, with their vibrant colours and unique shapes, attract pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. These pollinators play a crucial role in the reproduction of many vegetable crops. Interplanting creates a symbiotic relationship between flowers and vegetables, where each benefits from the presence of the other.

One of the significant advantages of interplanting is its ability to naturally control pests. Many flowers, such as marigolds and nasturtiums, have natural repellent properties that help deter harmful insects. When interplanted with vegetables, these flowers act as a barrier, protecting crops from pests without the need for chemical interventions. Additionally, the presence of diverse plant species attracts a range of beneficial insects, creating a dynamic and self-regulating ecosystem.

Interplanting contributes to improved soil health and nutrient cycling. Different plant species have varied nutrient requirements, and when grown together, they help prevent nutrient depletion. Leguminous flowers, for example, can fix nitrogen in the soil, benefiting neighbouring vegetables. Additionally, the diverse root structures of interplanted flowers and vegetables create a more intricate and resilient soil structure, reducing erosion, and enhancing water retention.

Beyond the practical benefits, interplanting contributes to the aesthetic appeal of the garden. The combination of colourful flowers and vegetables creates a visually pleasing and dynamic landscape. This not only enhances the overall experience for the gardener, but also attracts more people to embrace sustainable gardening practices. The beauty of an interplanted garden is not only functional but also provides a sanctuary for relaxation and enjoyment.

Interplanting is a key element in creating a sustainable and resilient garden. The diverse ecosystem established through interplanting is more adaptable to environmental changes, such as fluctuations in temperature and rainfall. This resilience is particularly valuable in the face of climate change, where unpredictable weather patterns can pose challenges to traditional mono-cropping systems. By embracing interplanting, gardeners contribute to building a more sustainable and climate-resilient food production system.

Interplanting flowers and vegetables in the garden is a holistic approach that aligns with the principles of agroecology, promoting biodiversity, enhancing pest control, improving soil health, and contributing to a more aesthetically pleasing and sustainable garden. As gardeners, farmers, and researchers continue to explore innovative and environmentally friendly practices, interplanting stands out as a practical and effective strategy to create resilient and productive ecosystems. Embracing this approach not only benefits the environment and agricultural productivity but also enhances the overall enjoyment of gardening for individuals and communities alike. As we look to the future of sustainable agriculture, interplanting holds the promise of transforming our gardens into thriving and harmonious spaces where nature and cultivation coalesce for the greater good.

The recipe I have chosen incorporates early spring greens and edible flowers. It is a suggestion, as you can choose whatever you have growing at the time for a personalized dish. Happy Growing!


2 1/2 tbsp grapeseed or olive oil
1 tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp minced tarragon
1 Persian cucumber or
1/3 English cucumber
About 50 sugar snap peas
1/4 cup lightly packed chervil sprigs (optional)
3 oz mâche clusters (about 3 lightly packed cups)
4 oz mesclun (about 6 lightly packed cups)
4 medium radishes, sliced in half lengthwise
Your choice of: bachelor’s buttons (whole and petals), calendula and carnation petals, whole Johnny-jump-ups, nasturtium petals, pansy petals, and stock flowerets (15 to 20 whole flowers total)

How to Make It

In a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and tarragon. Thinly slice cucumber. Split 30 of the fatter peapods and remove the peas; set aside. Gently rinse chervil, mâche, and mesclun, and gently spin twice in a salad spinner to thoroughly dry the leaves.

Put greens in a large bowl and toss gently but thoroughly with 3 tbsp of dressing (leaves should be barely coated), adding more dressing if necessary.

Divide greens among plates. To each salad, add a few slices of cucumber, some sugar snap peas (both whole pods and just the peas), and some radishes. Drizzle with any remaining dressing, if you like, and top with whole flowers and flower petals.

Altieri, M. A. (1999). The ecological role of biodiversity in agroecosystems. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 74(1–3), 19–31. Letourneau, D. K., Armbrecht, I., & Salguero Rivera, B. (2011). Does plant diversity benefit agroecosystems? A synthetic review. Ecological Applications, 21(1), 9–21.
Fageria, N. K., Baligar, V. C., & Jones, C. A. (2011). Growth and Mineral Nutrition of Field Crops (3rd ed.). CRC Press.
Kingsbury, N. (2009). Designing with Plants. Timber Press.
Jackson, L. E., & Pascual, U. (2016). Agroecological and other innovative approaches to conventionalizing agriculture. In The Routledge Handbook of Food Ethics (pp. 269–285). Routledge.

Stacey Wiebe and her partner Dale Maier farm 1,400 acres on a mixed organic grain and livestock farm near Sturgis, SK. They have two school-aged children who love spending time in the garden with their mom. Stacey and her family are proud to share the land with their fellow animal neighbours and their fellow humans through the Treaty Land Share Network. Stacey and Dale are members of The Farmers’ Table (see the display ad on page 9 of the 29.6 March/April issue of the WHOLifE Journal for more details).


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