Companion planting

Having just dug over the potager (veggie plot) my mind has turned to the design and planting – I want it to look pretty, colourful and above all have a bountiful harvest with as little work as possible!

Ideally if you plant the correct plants with their companions they will benefit and so will you. I love my herbs so I want to incorporate as many useful and colourful herbs as possible to fill out my plot. Why herbs? Herbs are so fragrant, attractive and edible (on the whole) and they also grow easily and help repel some of the garden pests that I don’t want to see whilst at the same time attract the beneficial insects that both pollinate and feed on other non beneficial insects. Some herbs even feed the soil and help condition it which is obviously of huge advantage to the veggie plot.

So herbs it is, but which ones? As they are to grow in the veggie plot with my scrumptious fruit and vegetables I want them to be annuals as then I can re- dig and clear the plot at the end of the season – it is not a permanent garden and next year things will be rotated.

Which herbs are annual? Most people have a selection of herbs in their gardens or around them, many in pots on the kitchen windowsill. For further details of herbs and their uses refer to my website The annual herbs that I love best are borage, basil, nasturtiums and marigolds, all very different but equally effective in what they do. These are the ones that I want to add primarily to my planting scheme.

Borage – helps nearly all fruit and vegetables, especially strawberries and tomatoes. It attracts predatory insects and honey bees to the garden and repels many other undesirable insects. It also is edible and very attractive in the garden, flowering profusely throughout summer and into autumn. The flowers and leaves are edible but I prefer to collect the flowers, which come usually bright blue, white or sometimes pink, for use in our pot pourri ( It is in my mind top dog of the companion plants!

Basil – we grow around 15 varieties of basil, all with different scents, tastes and growth habit but they are all delicious. It is particularly good when grown with tomatoes, peppers and asparagus and is helped by the addition of chamomile or anise grown nearby. It attracts butterflies but repels asparagus beetles, mosquitoes and flies. Again this herbs is edible and an asset to the cuisine as well as the garden.

Nasturtiums – help tomatoes, brassicas, cucumbers, melons, apple trees and beans. They attract predatory insects and repel aphids, white fly, squash bugs and cucumber beetles. This is one of the best choices for attracting predatory insects. Again they are both attractive and edible, what more can a girl ask?!

Marigolds – helps tomatoes, potatoes, aubergines and chilli peppers. They deter many common garden pests as well as predatory nematodes. Again this is a colourful, long flowering plant to be enjoyed most of the year.

Of course the vegetables can help each other so I will plant my alliums appropriately to help keep the carrot flies, slugs, aphids and cabbage worms away. They must be planted away from beans, peas and parsley however. So with this in mind I’m off to get out my drawing pad and plan it out…. I may be some time.

This is not a comprehensive list of the herbs, flowers and vegetables that can be used for companion planting, just a little taster and I may be adding some others to my list as I develop my potager.

@ Jacqui - yes borage does grow very easily and self seeds everywhere but it’s easily recognised even in the smallest seedling stage so can be taken out quickly if you find you have too much, don’t know about the huge tap root though, ours never had but I do get that problem with fennel!!
@ Patricia - thanks for pointing out the web address typing error, all corrected now :slight_smile:

Great ideas and some that I will be giving a try. One thing that I would say though is be careful with Borage - (according to wiki) it has “an indeterminate growth habit”. I’ve found it appears to self seed and has huge tap roots which if you don’t fully remove will regrow. If you keep it in check it’s fab but having inherited a garden where it was allowed to run wild it is a nuisance.

You’re absolutely right Jennifer but chives are a perennial and we have tons of them throughout the garden, they self seed so easily, so that’s why I suggested the general term alliums (such as garlic and onions as we eat the bulbs and no need to worry about moving them when the veggie plot is finished!) I particularly love the serpent garlic, white chives and of course the garlic chives, all of which taste great but don’t self seed as readily…

Some great tips here. I love Borage too, and apparantly it is supposed to have magical properties too! (and it’s the flowers are really nice in a jug of Pimms!)
Another I would add to the list are chives - I find them an excellent edging plant, a line of them look great down the side of the path, and they are so useful too. I cannot imagine cooking without so many herbs, but I seem to use chives almost every day. All alums are very pest resisitant too…

Yes great info Jayne! may have to replan my veggie patch now!

Thanks for this info Jayne, we always plant marigolds around our tomatoes and have nasturtiums and basil in pots, will try and incorporate them into the potager this year too. Never grown borage, but will give it a go too.