In the gardening world today, many growers are making use of a process called “Companion Planting” when planning their gardens, especially their vegetable gardens. This manner of growing makes use of the interaction between different species of plants. In nature, there is no need for using insecticides or fertilizers. These are automatically taken care of with the distribution of the various plants that are growing.
This process does not have to take place only in the wild. The idea of “Companion Planting” can have a very positive effect in the backyard gardens of everyone. Research has shown that growing herbs alongside the plants in one’s garden can make a great difference in the way the plants perform. Certain herbs are known to work as well as the commercial insecticides that are purchased for this reason, without the worry of using toxic chemicals around the home and yard. Other herbs can actually enhance the growth and flavor of the plants they are partnered with. Using companion planting helps to balance the eco-system of one’s landscaping, whether with flower or vegetable plants.
As any experienced gardener knows, there are numerous herbs available to grow in one’s garden, some of which work as excellent companion plants. However, even the novice backyard gardener can easily make use of this process. All one needs to know is: (1) what type of plants they wish to grow; and (2) what herbs can be used to help enhance the growth of those particular plants. With a little bit of information, one can have the best garden ever.
One of the most persistent problems when gardening is that of preventing insect damage to the growing, fruiting or blooming plants. Several herbs can work in combating this problem. For instance, planting basil among one’s tomato plants can have a dual benefit. Besides actually influencing the flavor of the tomatoes, this herb also protects the plants from insects and disease. Another herb that works well when planted among tomatoes is borage. This herb can help to deter tomato worms, which can quickly destroy a tomato plant. In addition, borage attracts bees to the area where they are planted, thus helping to pollinate the plants. Garlic, when planted near fruit trees and tomatoes can help repel red spider mites. Other herbs that can be planted with tomatoes include lemon balm, parsley, and thyme. Another benefit of using herbs in your companion planting is that the herbs themselves can be used straight from the garden to one’s kitchen.
Tomatoes are not the only plants that can benefit from a close relationship with the various herbs. Cabbage also does well when sharing its space with certain herbs. Nasturtium planted near cabbage plants will work as an insect repellent. Thyme can help to repel the worms that feast on the cabbage plant. Planting peppermint, sage, or rosemary can help attract beneficial insects needed for pollination, and planting marigolds or dill near the cabbage plants will help to deter cabbage butterflies from infesting the plants.
Many other herbs have positive effects on one’s garden plants when used together. Horseradish helps to repel potato bugs that attack the potato plants. Rue works well with strawberries, rosemary loves to grow with beans and carrots, and oregano works well to repel the cucumber beetle. Chives, planted near carrots and even fruit trees, will help to kill powdery mildew, and nasturtium works as an insect repellent when planted with collard, broccoli, and cauliflower.
In addition to planting herbs alongside other garden plants, using parts of the herb plants, cut fresh from your garden, can help in other ways. For instance, leaves from costmary, simmered in boiling water then cooled make a good liquid insecticide. Other herbs, such as elder, basil and wormwood can be prepared as above, and used to control aphids, caterpillars, and moths.
Organic gardening, of which companion planting with herbs is one aspect, is becoming more and more popular today. This is due the fact that those wishing to enhance the growth of their plants do not want to do so with chemicals toxic to other plants, animals, humans, or the environment. Mother Nature provides everything needed for optimum growth in nature. It is up to the modern day gardener to discover and make use of these gifts of nature.