The practice of companion planting has been used through the centuries, early gardeners understood the laws of nature and used it their advantage. In the days before chemicals this was essential to the survival of the harvest. It is still a useful tool these days in the fight to keep pests and disease away from the garden especially the vegetable patch.
Companion planting is used for many reasons – to deter pests, attract bees for pollination, offer shade, improve flavor and share nutrients from the soil. By controlling what is grown next to each other you can make sure that plants are not competing for the same nutrients or attracting the same bugs. In nature some plants make better neighbours than others, knowing these rules can improve your garden.
Herbs play a very important function in any companion planted garden, apart from their uses in cooking; they can be planted throughout the vegetable garden. Lemon Balm can be put anywhere throughout the garden, as its roots benefit the soil, just give it some room as it is a larger growing herb. Thyme will improve the flavor of anything it is planted next to. Garlic, although not an herb is great next to Roses and raspberries to deter pest and improve flavor. Fennel needs to be planted away from the vegetable garden; its aroma is just too strong.
Flowers are also useful so don’t just keep them in the flower garden, petunias love beans and the humble marigold is the general work horse in the garden and will grow anywhere.
To plant a companion garden forget the neat straight rows, think more planting in blocks. The planting is more mixed so that the plants can take advantage of each other. To make it a little easier get out a piece of paper and plan before you plant.