Whether grown as culinary additions to the kitchen table, as pest control, pollinator attractors, or for their medicinal qualities; herbs add beauty, vitality, fragrance and variety to the garden landscape.
Growing Herbs as Beneficial Companions to Particular Vegetables and Vegetable Families
Some herbs are specific and valuable companions to particular vegetables in the garden. Others attract beneficial pollinators and others are generally helpful throughout the garden for different reasons. Some are pest traps: that is, they attract the pests that would otherwise attack your vegetable plants; and some enhance flavor, vigor and growth or yield in other plants. There are even some that serve multiple purposes or do more than one of these jobs. Here we will address growing those herbs which benefit particular garden vegetable plants and which plants they assist.
Basil and parsley
Provide significant improvement in tomatoes, asparagus, peppers and eggplant. Interplanting with basil and parsley will improve flavor, pest resistance and improve yields and vigor. Keep rue and sage well away from basil.
Basil is an annual, and should be planted in the garden either just before or at the same time as the vegetables.
Parsley also assists with carrots and onions. It is a bi-annual and will go to seed in its second year. Most people grow parsley as an annual as it will go to seed and become tough in its second year; however, early spring and summer parsley in its second year can produce an abundance of tender delicious leaves. It will also set the stage for a great tomato, eggplant and pepper garden if allowed to over-winter. Finally, parsley planted around roses will increase their fragrance.
Companion to tomatoes, squash, cabbage and strawberries. It deters tomato horn worm and cabbage worm. It is actually beneficial to everyone, but as a companion it will keep tomatoes and squash thriving. Don’t forget to plant it around strawberries for the same result.
Aids brassicas, particularly cabbage and cauliflower; also a helper to cucumber and onion.
Beneficial to fruit trees, and acts as a nutrient miner in the garden. Its tap root can reach 10 feet deep. Leaves are excellent slug traps and compost activators. It can be invasive, particularly common comfrey, so be careful where you plant it. It also can clear stagnant water and handle poorly draining soils, so can be used in areas needing soil repair.
Beneficial to cabbage, cucumber, lettuce, onion and sweet corn. To deter the squash bug, break up good sized leaves and sprinkle on squash, cucumber, pumpkin and other members of the cucurbit family.
Allow some dill to go to seed to attract beneficial pollinators and especially the swallowtail butterfly.
Do not plant near tomatoes as it is an attractant for the tomato horn worm.
There are many varieties of mint, here we are discussing peppermint, spearmint and pennyroyal. Three common mints which can be beneficial to the garden if well controlled.
Deters cabbage moths, flea beetles and rodents. Helpful for health and vitality of cabbage and tomatoes. Mint is highly invasive and may be better sown in containers in the garden or used as crushed leaves mulched or distributed upon the vegetable leaves in the garden. We have always grown pennyroyal, peppermint and spearmint in the garden in the border between tomatoes and brassicas with no problem.
Warning: Pennyroyal is toxic to cats. Do not use as a flea control for cats or allow them to roll in it in the garden. Pennyroyal is generally toxic and is not to be treated as other mints for teas, ingestion, etc.
An excellent companion to carrots, beans, cabbage and onions. It is a natural deterrent to cabbage moths and bean beetles and if planted with carrots will deter the carrot fly.
Like rosemary is a great companion to cabbage, broccoli and carrots. It repels cabbage moths and beetles including the black flea beetle. It should not be planted near cucumbers or onion.
Another cabbage moth deterrent and will improve flavor of beans and onions.
Deters cabbage worms and is generally a friend to the brassica family; particularly broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage and collard.
Next we will take a look at Herbs as Beneficial Pollinator Attractors.