“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”

Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Revolution

Sweet Potato Harvest from Polyculture

sweet potato polyculture

We experimented with a few different polyculture combinations this season.  Some seemed to produce and work well, others not so much (more on polycultures and our experience with them in a later post).  One polyculture that did seem to be promising was the sweet potato/bush bean/beneficial weeds polyculture.  This year’s sweet potato harvest resulted in yields that seemed to be comparable to a single bed or rows of sweet potatoes.

Sweet potato and bush bean polyculture with some volunteer flowering plants popping up here and there

What is a Polyculture?

A polyculture can be thought of as the opposite of a monoculture crop.  A monoculture is a planting of one single species like in a large field of corn or garden beds of single species.  Polyculture combines different plant species together in the same space, similar to what one would find in a natural ecosystem.  The idea is that a more bio-diverse system will decrease the chance of widespread loss to disease, provides more habitat for beneficial insects, and provide mutual benefits between each plant species.  Inter-cropping and companion planting are a less complex form of polyculture, but the ideal polyculture will have many different layers of complexity with a high species diversity.  I recommendGaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway for a detail understanding of polyculture and its benefits.