By Robin Svedi
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 will help to loosen the soil? Most 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?
Certain herbs and plants will do better simply by planting them nearby to each other. Other herbs and plants should be kept far away. When choosing companion plants for your herb garden, you need to consider several factors.
Companion Planting with Herbs
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 flavor and health of just about any garden plant.
Another thing to think about is scent and flavoring. Strong herbs can change the flavors and scents of other herbs or vegetables. Sometimes the change is good, as with the basil and tomatoes, or summer savory 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 flavor of almost any vegetable that you choose to plant them near.
And 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. Deadnettle 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.
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 favors 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.