Have you thought about planting an herb garden but didn’t know how to start? Try taking it slow and incorporate some herbs into to your borders and other gardens. Using the concept of Companion Planting, you can add color, vitality and pest control while having herbs you can use for cooking, making teas or even use medicinally. Be mindful that, if you are planning to ingest any of your herbs, you avoid the use of chemicals in your garden.
While a lot of the information regarding Companion Planting concerns vegetables, many of the benefits also apply to flowers, shrubs and trees. Remember to use the Herbs for added color and interesting textures along with their beneficial nature. They come in all shapes and sizes, so they can used in the front of borders, interspersed between plants or used as a backdrop. I’ll start with a list of some of my favorite herbs that are really beneficial to the garden as a whole.
Borage – Along with Lovage, Borage is considered a “magic bullet” in companion planting, meaning it is thought to improve the health to just about all plants. Borage improves soil composition, help nearby plants become more resistant to pests and disease and attract bees and wasps. It will enhance the flavor and yield of tomatoes, strawberries and squash. Since Borage also acts as a deterrent to tomato hornworms, Anna makes me plant it all around my tomato plants. Its bright blue, star shaped flowers make a pretty addition to the garden and make a bold statement in salads.
Chamomile – Known as the “Doctor Plant”, Chamomile is planted near ailing plants to help revive them. It also encourages other plants to increase their production of essential oil improving their taste and smell. The flowers and leaves can be brewed into a tea (let steep for several days), and used to help sickly plants. The flowers make a lovely, calming tea for people too.
Tansy – Tansy is a good all-round bitter Insect repellent (but generally not nectar eating insects). It benefits nearby plants by concentrating Potassium in the soil. It is great planted near Cabbages, Roses, Raspberries and Grapes. Plant it where you want protection against Japanese Beetle, Striped Cucumber Beetle, Squash Bug, Cut Worms, Cabbage Worms, Ants, Flies, Mosquitoes & Fruit Moth. Plant it under Fruit Trees to deter Borers and help ward off flying insects.
Tarragon – The scent and taste of tarragon is disliked by many garden pests, making it useful to protect surrounding plants. It is also reputed to be a nurse plant, enhancing growth and flavor of companion crops. Fresh Tarragon is used in salads, eggs, chicken and beef dishes to impart a spicy, minty licorice flavor to them.
Here is a chart of some more Herbs for Companion planting:
|Basil||Is said to make tomatoes taste better; dislikes rue intensely. Improves growth and flavor repels flies and mosquitoes.|
|Bee Balm||Companion to tomatoes; improves growth and flavor.|
|Caraway||Attracts parasitic wasps and flies. Plant here and there; loosens soil. Good with strawberries.|
|Catnip||Plant in borders; deters flea beetle.|
|Chives||Companion to carrots; improves growth and flavor; avoid beans and peas|
|Dill||Companion to cabbage; dislikes carrots and tomato; improves growth and health of cabbage. Careful! Attracts tomato hornworm!|
|Fennel||Plant away from gardens because Fennel is allelopathic to most plants, inhibiting growth, causing them to bolt or actually killing the plant.|
|Garlic||Plant near roses and raspberries; deters Japanese beetle; improves growth and flavor|
|Hyssop||Deters cabbage moth; companion to cabbage and grapes. Keep away from radishes. Attracts honey bees and butterflies!|
|Lovage||Is thought to improve the health of almost all plants, like borage and geraniums, is considered a “magic bullet” of companion planting|
|Marigolds||The workhorse of the pest deterrents. Plant throughout garden; it discourages Mexican bean beetles, nematodes and other insects. French marigolds produce a pesticide chemical from their roots, so strong it lasts years after they are gone|
|Mint||Companion to cabbage and tomatoes; improves health and flavor; Peppermint particularly deters white cabbage moth. Spearmint for ants and aphids.|
|Marjoram||Plant here and there in garden; improves flavors|
|Peppermint||Planted among cabbages, it repels the white cabbage butterfly.|
|Rosemary||Companion to cabbage, bean, carrots, and sage; deters cabbage moth, many bean beetles, and carrot fly. Don’t plant with Basil.|
|Rue||Keep it far away from sweet basil; plant near roses and raspberries; deters Japanese beetle.|
|Sage||Plant with rosemary, cabbage, beans and carrots; keep away from cucumbers. Deters cabbage moth, many bean beetles, carrot fly.|
|Southernwood||Plant here and there in garden; companion to cabbage, improves growth and flavor; deters cabbage moth.|
|Summer savory||Plant with green beans and onions; improves growth and flavor. Deters bean beetle and delays germination of certain foul herbs|
|Tansy||Plant under fruit trees; companion to roses and raspberries. Deters flying insects, Japanese beetles, striped cucumber beetles, squash bugs, ants.|
|Tarragon||Good throughout garden. Its scent is disliked by most pests, and this plant is also thought to have Nurse Plant properties, enhancing the growth and flavor of crops grown with it.|
|Thyme||Plant here and there in garden. Deters cabbage worm.|
|Valerian||Good anywhere in garden.|
|Wormwood||As a border, it keeps animals from the garden.|
|Yarrow||Plant along borders, paths, near aromatic herbs; enhances essential oil production.|
By: Anthony Kelly-Niziolek, CCH, LMT, RMT of Airmeith Naturals
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