Companion planting in the garden has most likely been around for as long as man has been planting seeds. It’s simply a method of partnering up vegetables and herbs that benefit each other. Though companion planting isn’t a cure all for garden pests, it’s certainly worth the effort. Herbs and vegetables are perfect culinary partners in the kitchen as well as the garden.
Let’s start with easy to grow herbs and the vegetables they work well with in the garden.
BASIL: Sow seeds of Basil directly into the garden near tomatoes and peppers. It’s said to partner well with both vegetables and oregano, improving their growth and flavor. These four are perfect together in cooking as well.
DILL: Sow seeds of dill near cabbage, lettuce, corn, cucumbers and onions. The seeds are tiny, so mark where they are sown carefully until germination.
Warning! DO NOT plant dill near tomatoes. It will attract the tomato hornworm. Dill is known for attracting butterflies, especially the swallowtail, and obviously moths like the tomato worm enjoy it as well. Dill should be planted away from carrots, caraway and lavender too, if possible.
BORAGE: Another easy herb to sow from seed. Plant near tomatoes, strawberries, and squash to enhance flavor and improve the soil. It acts as a deterrent to both tomato and cabbage worms. Borage is a pretty herb, which will add a nice ornamental touch to the garden.
CHIVE: This herb is harder to grow from seed, but it’s inexpensive to buy plants, and grows quickly so it can be divided the next year. Plant chives near tomatoes, carrots, sunflowers, broccoli, cabbage, and roses. It’s known for helping to keep away Japanese beetles and aphids, probably when it’s used in quantity. Chives are perfect used as border plants, or located in the corners of a garden. The more the better.
NASTURTIUM: Easy to sow from seed, it’s a perfect partner to radish, cabbage, collard greens, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, broccoli, tomatoes, and cucumber. It’s known for deterring whiteflies, cucumber beetles and squash bugs. It also acts as a “trap crop” for aphids. This means they attract the aphids, so they stay away from the vegetables. However, the nasturtiums may suffer from an infestation of aphids. It’s considered a trade off because the aphids don’t bother the vegetables.
SAGE: An inexpensive perennial herb to purchase, but one that does take up quite a bit of room in the garden. It’s a good companion to broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and carrots. Sage is known for deterring cabbage moths, beetles and carrot flies.
Warning! Do not plant near cucumbers or onions if possible.
ROSEMARY: A wonderful culinary perennial herb that won’t survive the winter in cold climates, but it can be brought inside. It’s a good partner to cabbage, beans and carrots. Rosemary is known for deterring cabbage moths, bean beetles and carrot flies.
The following herbs are not as common as the ones mentioned above, but are worth using in the garden if placed correctly.
CALENDULA/POT MARIGOLD: Pot marigold is an old fashioned name for calendula, which is quite easy to find among flower seed displays. It’s easily grown from seed, and looks like a cross between a marigold and an African daisy with it’s shades of cream, yellow, gold and orange. It’s a great companion to tomatoes and is known to deter the tomato worm. Calendula is an annual and it’s worth sowing in various locations around the garden.
SUMMER SAVORY: An annual herb that is known as a culinary herb used in bean dishes of all types. It’s a nice companion to green beans and onions, and it deters the bean beetle. Summer Savory can be grown from seed.
CATNIP: Known for keeping away flea beetles, aphids, Japanese beetles, squash bugs, ants and weevils. However, it’s extremely invasive, both from the roots and reseeding. Grow in containers to set around the garden where needed.
MINT: Another invasive herb, which does have wonderful culinary uses. Best grown in containers. Some gardeners have luck planting mint in a pot with the bottom removed, and burying it in the ground. The roots tend to go down, rather than spreading. Mint is a tricky plant, and shouldn’t be allowed to go to seed. It’s known as a deterent of white cabbage moths, ants, rodents, flea beetles, fleas, and aphids. It’s a good companion to cabbage and tomatoes.
Companion planting is a tried and true method of pest control, even with a few hits and misses, it’s a good practice, especially for organic gardeners. Mixing vegetables and herbs in the garden is always beneficial for the plants, the gardener and the cook.