KTRH GardenLine Newsletter
February. 26, 2009 - Issue #104
Here's Randy's Weekly KTRH GardenLine Tip:
Ever since we wrote about building vegetable gardens and the subsequent varieties and planting times tip sheets, it naturally allows us to talk about herb gardening quite easily. That's because the bed for a veggie garden can easily be a bed for herb gardens. If you never saw the tip sheet that calls for well-drained beds, enriched with organic matter, then by all means please read this tip sheet from a few weeks ago.
But the other beauty of herbs is that they don't require near as much space as a veggie garden, and while they do like that type of soil, they also do great in potted situations as well. Some even do well in window boxes that get plenty of light, just to prove that they don't always have to be grown outdoors. However, by and large, herbs will excel in an outdoor environment, especially with other beneficial herb companions.
Before I get to the context of this week's tip sheet, I can make this incredibly simple. When it comes to the real Herbs 101 expert, you really ought to get to The Arbor Gate this Saturday at 10 a.m. and sit in on Ann Wheeler's real-life Herbs 101 class. There is actually one today (Thursday, February 26th) if you read your email tips early enough, since I know they go out at midnight. Today's is also at 10 a.m. If such a class is of any interest to you, you really ought to call and sign up for the class, even if you have to leave a message. 281-351-8851. While it is free, there are limited seats available. Ann Wheeler is hands-down the preeminent local herb expert, so anything I write here is only a modicum of what she and The Arbor Gate can provide this Saturday.
Companion Planting With Herbs
With that said, let me take on an herb subject that could be invaluable to nearby veggie gardens this year. It's called "companion planting" with herbs. You see, herbs while useful plants for culinary and other purposes also make wonderful companions for many other members of the flower and vegetable garden. The information that follows hopefully will give you some ideas on how to create companionable plantings using herbs for a variety of purposes.
The first concept with companion plantings with herbs is to imitate nature, where the beneficial insects and the pest are kept in balance by food supplies natural predation and other forces. Pests flourish where there is only a single type of plant available. You see, flower herbs and wildflowers help offset the lack of attractiveness (to helpful bugs!) of hybridized bedding plants.
Hopefully, this will all help you reduced the use of insecticides. Complete eradication of pests is not only unrealistic it isn't quite wise. For example, the wasps we love to spray help control many damaging insects such as caterpillars. Plus, since bees and other flying insects are essential to pollination, the idea of broad spectrum pest control becomes really offensive.
So, to begin with, here are a few herbs that are attractive to beneficial insects.
Herbs That Attract Beneficial Insects:
Herbs That Repel Insects Naturally:
Basil - Reduces Flies and Mosquitoes
Borage - Repels Tomato Horn Worms
Garlic - Repels aphids, beetles, borers and spider mites
Marigold - Natural nematode deterrent
Pennyroyal mint - Ants, aphids, ticks and flea repellant
Peppermint - Ants, flea beetles
Rue - Beetles
Sage - Months and white cabbage butterfly
Spearmint - Ants, aphids, flea beetles
Thyme - Cabbage worms and other insects
Lavender - Ants
Tansy - Ants, aphids and houseflies
Chives - Various fruit tee and tomato pests
Rosemary - White cabbage butterfly, beetle and ants
It's worth noting that not all "companion' plants repel insects. Being a companion plant can also enhance the chemistry of the soil or the nearby vegetables or flowers. We usually think of companions as "good", but there are also companionships to be avoided because proximity is said to have an adverse effect on flavor or plant health.
Hopefully to make it even easier, here is a list of
Good Companions Plantings:
Alliums - good companion to Roses
Basil - Tomatoes
Anise - Cilantro
Borage - Fruit Trees & Strawberries
Chervil - Radishes
Chives - Carrots
Dill - Cabbage
Garlic - Fruit Trees & Tomatoes
Mint - Cabbage & Tomatoes
Oregano - Broccoli
Pennyroyal - Broccoli
Rue - Roses
Sage - Cabbages
Southernwood - Cabbages & Fruit Trees
Thyme - Most Veggies & Other Herbs
Avoid These Pairings:
Basil - Not compatible with Rue
Chives - Beans
Garlic - Beans
Fennel - Beans
Dill - Carrots
Cilantro - Fennel
Fennel - Most Veggies esp. beans & tomatoes
Garlic - Beans & Peas