Long before Europeans were on the scene, Africans were practicing companion, or mixed cropping (or planting), which is a highly successfully strategy for outwitting many bugs and diseases.
However, with the advent of Northern Hemisphere farming methods in which crops are neatly planted in rows with no intermixing, Africans were (and often still are) advised to farm in this way, growing crops in neat rows. Mixed planting was seen as very messy by many advisors.
Here are the major vegetable families with examples of the members of each family. Mixed farming should intercrop members of different families – either at the same time or sequentially; companioning a legume with a non-legume is particularly advantageous:
Vegetable families and some examples of members:
Tomato, potato, pepper, eggplant, chili pepper
Onion, shallot leek, chive, garlic
Beet, swiss chard, spinach, amaranth
Cole Crop Family
Cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, sukuma-wiki
Bean, pea, cowpea, peanut
Carrot, celery, celeriac, parsley, parsnip
Cucumber, watermelon, cantaloupe, pumpkin
Lettuce, chicory, endive
Here is the process of setting up a mixed farming field in our contract farming demonstration plot:
Once established we add other vegetables: