Companion Planting with Herbs
Did you know that your home-grown tomatoes will taste better simply by planting sweet basil next to them? Or that by incorporating some caraway plants throughout your garden you will help to loosen the soil? Many people have heard about the benefits of planting roses with garlic, but did you know that using feverfew with your roses will also help to keep the aphids away?
Creating a garden that combines certain herbs with other plants is the basis of herbal companion gardening and has been used successfully for centuries. Certain herbs and plants will do better simply by planting them nearby to each other. Other herbs and plants should be kept far away from each other.
When choosing companion plants for your herb garden, you need to consider several factors:
First and foremost, never plant two heavy feeders next to each other. They will compete for the nutrients in the soil, and neither will flourish. You need to consider what each plant needs and gives back to the soil before placing any two together in the garden. Chives and carrots do well together as does dill with cabbage. Lovage works to improve the flavour and health of just about any garden plant.
Another thing to think about is scent and flavouring. Strong herbs can change the flavours and scents of other herbs or vegetables. Sometimes the change is good, as with the basil and tomatoes, or summer savoury and beans. Sometimes the change isn’t so good. You will notice this with all of the mints. If you plant spearmint too close to peppermint, in time, they will both smell and taste the same. Mint does make a good companion for tomatoes though as do thyme, sage, and bee balm. Tarragon and marjoram will help to enhance the flavour of almost any vegetable that you choose to plant them near.
As with the feverfew and roses, sometimes herbal companion plants can help keep detrimental bugs away from your other plants and vegetables in your garden. Planting borage with your tomatoes, squash, and strawberries will help to keep tomato worms from attacking. Dead Nettle planted with potatoes will keep potato bugs away as will horseradish. Planting Tansy near your fruit trees will help to keep most flying insects and ants away. Rosemary is a good companion to cabbage, beans, carrots, and sage and will work to keep the cabbage moths away. By using companion planting to keep the bugs away, you won’t need to use as many insecticides that can harm the beneficial garden insects, like the bees and ladybugs.
Some plants should be kept away from others at all costs. Dill should never be planted with carrots, Angelica, or caraway. Keep your cucumbers at opposite sides of the garden from your sage. Rue needs to be kept away from sweet basil, and no one favours fennel. It should be planted on its own.
By choosing your companion herbs wisely you will be helping your garden to help itself with fertilization and natural insecticide repellents.
Your herbs and vegetables will taste better, and you’ll have more free time to relax and enjoy your herbs!