read: fabulous companion plants for your veggie garden
What is companion planting?
Companion planting is the practice of grouping of plants together in a way that benefits the entire garden. Different plants have different smells, growth habits and pollinators, and so using these properties strategically can improve your gardening practices greatly! Companion planting can help repel unwanted insects or attract beneficial insects, nourish the soil, help control diseases, and generally improves the growing conditions of plants so that their size, yield and health are at their best. Below are some of the best companion plants to use in your veggie patch to keep it in top shape.
The marigold is one of the most well-known insect-repelling plants. These pretty flowers deter pesky insects by producing a scent, which although it is not unattractive to humans, deters mosquitoes, nematodes, white cabbage catepillars, and more. Another plus is that while marigolds mostly deter pest insects, they also attract beneficial insects, like spiders and ladybugs that attack and kill aphids, as well as some pollinators. These benefits can be reaped by planting marigolds near a wide range of companion veggies, such as most cucurbits (i.e. cucumber, pumpkin, melons), tomatoes, lettuces, asparagus, beans, potatoes, onions and more!
Borage attracts pollinators to the garden when flowering, leading to a greater number of flower fertilisations and thus fruit production. Borage also benefits gardens by attracting beneficial insects for natural pest control of common garden pests. Additionally, borage releases minerals like calcium and potassium into the soil, leading to greater soil fertility and thus plant growth, and helping other plants combat diseases such as blossom rot. Blue borage is best planted alongside tomatoes, cabbage, squash, peas, beans, cucumbers and strawberries. It's another attractive plant with pretty, violet, star-shaped flowers, so we wouldn't blame you for planting it purely to brighten up your garden too!
As with many aromatic herbs, rosemary wards off pest insects and can mask the attractive smell of brassica plants to certain insects, too. Pair rosemary with any members of the brassica family, including: cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussels sprouts, turnips, kohlrabi, rutabaga, and radishes, as well as beans and hot peppers. However, as with a few herbs, it's best to keep rosemary away from other aromatic herbs. Rosemary is a useful plant in of itself; the flavours of this homely plant pair well with many savoury dishes, particularly red meats, and sprigs can also be used in cocktails.
Similarly to rosemary, basil makes a great companion plant both because it is a useful herb in itself, and because it repels many harmful insects. It is said that basil repels aphids, asparagus beetles, mosquitoes, tomato hornworms and white flies, and may slow the growth of milkweed bugs. Basil may also attract butterflies and ladybugs to your garden. Not only that, by planting basil alongside tomatoes it can increase the flavour and yield of the fruit as they grow! Asparagus, peppers, tomatoes, and root vegetables such as parsnips, radishes, turnips, beets and carrots are the best veggies to plant with basil to utilise its insect-repelling superpowers. Chamomile, oregano, and chives increase the strength of the essential oils in their herb neighbors, making basil more flavorful in culinary applications and effective in the garden as a pest deterrent.