can we be friends? a basic guide to companion planting part I: herbs

Nature in all her glory has a magnificent system of plants, animals, insects and other organisms that work together to create a healthy ecosystem with limited waste. Companion planting enables gardeners to enjoy similar benefits by giving nature the tools she needs to get the job done.  Different plants have natural substances in their roots, flowers, etc. that attract beneficial insects or repel pests, enhance growth or improve flavor, and/or encourages healthy symbiotic relationships.  This means that it is an integral part of polyculture that supports the use of integrated pest management.

There are many reasons why you may want to try companion planting out.  There could be pests to deal with, a limited amount of space, a desire for a more balanced garden ecosystem or even to make your other plants a little more comfortable.  Regardless of the reasoning, a little planning can go a long when designing a garden’s layout.

Herbs are a great way to start out with companion planting as they are easy to grow and beneficial not only to our nature friends, but taste buds, too.

Here is a basic guide for several popular herbs:

basilBasil: a great herb for planting with tomatoes, beans, peppers, eggplants and potatoes.  Its strong aroma repels flies and mosquitos.

borageBorage: a good companion for most plants as it is said to improve disease resistance.  It is particularly beneficial for tomatoes, squash and strawberries.  Its attractive purple flowers attract pollinators and its foliage is rich in nutrients.

dillDill: a best friend of cabbage and lettuce that also grows well with corn and cucumbers.  Dill should not be planted near carrots, tomatoes or lavender.  The flowering heads attract many beneficial insects.

lemon balmLemon balm: the leaves of lemon balm contain citronella properties which makes it ideal as a pest deterrent.  Plant it throughout the garden to serve as a living pest repellent or sprinkle its leaves throughout the garden to enjoy its beneficial pest discouraging qualities.

lovageLovage: great throughout the garden as a plant flavor and health enhancer.

* Lovage can get very large (mine is about 5.5 feet/160 cm tall), so be careful to plant it where it will not shade or over-crowd other plants.

mintMint: improves the health of tomatoes and cabbage and repels white cabbage moths, ants, rodents, flea beetles, fleas and aphids.

* Please note, mint can be invasive.  Try planting it in pots around the garden or using cuttings as mulch in order to gain its beneficial effects, rather than planting it directly in the ground.

oreganoOregano: a good all-around herb that is particularly beneficial to cabbage and grapes.  When planted near broccoli and cauliflower it repels the white cabbage moth.  Planted near cucumber, it repels the cucumber beetle.

parsleyParsley: beneficial to asparagus, tomatoes, chives, carrots and roses.  When allowed to flower, parsley attracts hoverflies and parasitic wasps.  Mint and parsley are enemies.  Do not plant them together.

Rosemary.JPGRosemary: a friend to cabbage, beans, carrots and sage.  It is said to repel the cabbage moth, bean beetles and carrot flies if cuttings are taken and scattered throughout the garden.

sage

Sage: its strong aroma deters several pests including cabbage moths, beetles, black flea beetles and carrot flies.  It is particularly beneficial for cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and rosemary.  When allowed to flower, the attractive blossoms attract a wide variety of beneficial insects.  Do not plant near cucumbers, onion or rue.  (click here for growing instructions)

thyme

Thyme: very easy to grow and good throughout the garden.  Deters cabbage worms and makes excellent ground cover.

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5 thoughts on “can we be friends? a basic guide to companion planting part I: herbs

  1. Thanks for all the great tips. I have a ton of lemon balm and not sure what to do with it. I did make a tea and I love weeding around it because it leaves my hands smelling so nice!

    1. Thank you for your positive feedback! I also love the smell of lemon balm when working in the garden. The aroma makes everything seem a bit more happy and cheery. And a tea sounds nice. I think I’d like to try that!

  2. Very informative post! And thanks for including the warnings, I once planted mint at a house that I was renting and it started taking over the yard! I ended up mowing it, lol. Thank you!

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