Most people who utilize organic management practices are already familiar with the concept of companion planting. Companion planting utilizes concepts such as niche partitioning, the division of resources through time or space (e.g spring and fall plants, or tall and short and/or vining plants), and vector disruption (breaking disease and pest cycles) to increase horticultural quality. Polyculture combines the principles of companion planting with those of ecology and applies them to more complex systems consisting of both perennial and annual plants. Mature polycultures might consist of hundreds of species coexisting together filling different niches in the system. Niche partitioning within the system results in greater efficiency and higher levels of productivity.
Perennial polycultures are one of the keystone building blocks in a permaculture operation; they build soils and produce food prolifically while resisting stochastic events. The biological diversity found in polycultures also means they will produce crops throughout the year, rather than at just a single point in the season. Last but certainly not least, perennial polycultures provide desperately needed quality habitat.