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Companion Planting

Our grandparents and great grandparents who farmed or gardened realized the benefits of placing certain plants together for more vigorous growth, higher yields, better flavor, and to repel would-be pests while attracting beneficial insects.

In an age where we now are concerned about food being grown without pesticides, these companion planting practices are being re-evaluated and put to use once again.

Companion planting is simply mixing things up a bit in the kitchen garden by inter-planting various herbs and flowers with vegetables. Odorous herbs confuse insects that rely on their sense of smell to search out dinner, while attracting and sheltering beneficial bugs who are happy to rid your garden of the ‘bad guys’.

Try These Herbs

Try these herbs and see what works best in your kitchen garden:

Basil – Ocimum basilicum. Improves growth and flavor of tomatoes; intersperse between and around tomatoes (all varieties seem to work). This tender annual is chummy with sweet peppers and asparagus while repelling flies, mosquitoes, tomato hornworm and mites.

Chives – Allium schoenoprasum. Plant near fruit trees to prevent apple scab. A lovely and beneficial perennial border for strawberries. Improves growth and flavor of carrots. Doesn’t get along with peas and beans. Discourages Japanese beetles and squirrels (when planted near bird feeders).

German Chamomile – Matricaria recutita. Considered the ‘plant’s physician’ in the garden keeping all nearby neighbors healthy. Attracts hoverflies and parasitic wasps.

Catmint – Nepeta mussini. Interplant with Arugula or any crop where flea beetles are doing damage.

Catnip – Nepeta cataria. Smothers nearby weeds, discourages squash bugs, aphids, flea beetles, Japanese beetles and ants. Provides food and shelter for helpful insects. May attract cats (which could be good if they in turn catch moles).

Cilantro – Coriandrum sativum. Repels aphids from nearby plants while being immune itself. Makes spider mites and potato beetles think twice before invading neighbors.

Dill – Anethum graveolens. Plant near cabbage, lettuce, onions, and cucumbers. Plant extra as it is a natural host (food source) for butterflies (beneficial backyard pollinator) and attracts lady beetles.

Garlic – Allium. Loves to live near roses, repels Japanese beetles, aphids, weevils, fruit tree borers, codling moths, spider mites. May prevent leaf curl on peach trees and discourages black spots. Is reported to improve flavor and health of raspberries. Accumulates sulfur, a naturally occurring fungicide that may help prevent disease in neighbors. A concentrated spray (tea from crushed bulbs and water) repels and kills whiteflies, aphids and fungus gnats. Doesn’t pair well with pea and bean family.

Garlic chives – Allium tuberosum. Gets along famously with fruit trees; deters Japanese beetles.

Horseradish – Armoracia rusticana. Repels potato bugs. Plant at corners of potato plot for a symbiotic effect, making potatoes healthier and more resistant to disease. Because this herb can spread rapidly you may want to plant it in containers.

Lavender – Lavandula angustifolia. Plant near cabbage. Attracts lacewings, honeybees and other beneficial insects. Repels fleas and moths. Rumor has it that ticks don’t like Lavender either.

Lemon Balm – Melissa officinalis. Grow near swiss chard and tomatoes. Sprinkle dried crushed leaves on vegetables to deter insects (like an insecticide).

Marjoram – Origanum marjorana. Peace and health to all plants that live next door to this herb.

Mint – Mentha piperita. Repels cabbage moth, mice, flea beetles, ants. Good with tomatoes and cabbage. Keeps aphids off nearby plants. Peppermint planted in and around shrubs discourages red ants. Attracts and shelters beneficial insects (containing invasive mint in a pot is always a good idea).

Nasturtium – Tropaeolum majus. Repels aphids, squash bugs, white fly, striped pumpkin beetles and woolly aphids. Trap plant for insects to feed on and lay insects. Likes to live near fruit trees. Attracts lacewings. Has a good relationship with radishes, cabbage, squash, and pumpkins. May be an indicator of lime deficiency (pH imbalance) if aphids appear on leaves.

Oregano – Origanum vulgare. On friendly terms with the whole hardy bunch of cool season Cole crops and grapes. Has been reported to deceive cucumber beetles.

Parsley – Petroselinum crispum. Plant with roses; dispels rose beetles. Adds vigor to tomatoes, asparagus and strawberries. A host plant for the black swallowtail butterfly.

Purple cone flowers – Echinacea. Invites beneficial wasps, flies, spiders, praying mantis and other nice guys (and gals) to the kitchen garden.

Rosemary – Rosmarinus officinalis. Good with cabbage, carrots and beans. Prostrate (trailing) varieties planted in borders kills slugs (needles are sharp and tough on their tender bellies).

Sage – Salvia officinalis. Discourages ticks, carrot flies and cabbage moths. Good with rosemary, carrots and cabbage. May argue with cucumbers.

Summer Savory – Satureja hotensis. Known as the bean herb. Plant this annual with beans to improve flavor, growth and add spice at harvest time. Onions also enjoy this herb’s company.

Thyme – Thymus vulgaris. This perennial is good anywhere in the garden accentuating aromatic qualities of other plants and herbs. Kills bacteria, dispels beetles. Especially good near cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts. Beneficial honeybees can’t resist.

Helpful Items to pick up at TSC

  • Potting soil
  • Compost