Take the same basic ingredients as always – basil, tomatoes and lettuce – but this year, toss the salad plants and herbs into a different growing pattern.
Plant lettuce underneath the tomatoes and then plant the basil close by, so it’s near the tomatoes. As tomatoes mature, they will create shade for the lettuce which is a cooler-season crop that will like being kept cool and shaded. Basil is important to this mix because tomatoes and basil have long been known as good companion plants. Not only are they a good marriage of flavors in the pasta sauce, but planting them near one another is mutually beneficial as they grow.
Basil improves the growth and flavor of tomatoes and will repel thrips – a common Colorado garden pest. Next, add the typical Italian herbs to the mix by planting parsley, oregano and thyme and you will enhance the winning garden combo. Oregano is a flavorful herb that provides pest protection throughout the garden.
Plant love in your garden with companion plants
Some plants love to be close together – and others really don’t care so much for one another. Here are some tips for what to plant where to increase vitality and deter pests.
Chives – Improve growth and flavor of carrots and tomatoes and also work well with broccoli, cabbage and mustard. Chives repel aphids from tomatoes and grapes. Avoid planting them near beans and peas.
Cilantro (coriander) – Repels aphids, spider mites and potato beetle.
Dill – Plant with cucumbers to attract beneficial predators. It also repels aphids, spider mites and squash bug. Dill improves growth of cabbage and lettuce. Do not plant dill near carrots, caraway, cauliflower, corn, potatoes or tomatoes.
Garlic – Plant with beets for flavor and pest control and plant near roses to repel aphids. It also benefits cukes, peas, lettuce and celery. Garlic accumulates sulfur, a naturally occurring fungicide which will help prevent disease.
Onions (Alliums) – Plant with carrots, chamomile, beets, strawberries, broccoli, dill, lettuce, summer savory and tomatoes. Onions planted with strawberries help berries fight disease. Keep onions away from peas and asparagus and remember if you have a dog that likes to dig, that onions are toxic to dogs.
Sage – Plant with broccoli, cauliflower, rosemary, cabbage, and carrots. It deters cabbage moths, beetles, black flea beetles and carrot flies. Do not plant near cucumbers or onions. Allow sage to flower so it will attract many beneficial insects.
Tarragon – Plant throughout the garden as few pests like it. It also enhances growth and flavor of vegetables.
Dress up the garden with flowers that work hard
Many common flowers do more than sit and look pretty – they attract pollinators and beneficial insects, and they repel pests.
Alyssum attracts delicate beneficial insects, such as predatory wasps and hoverflies whose larvae devour aphids.
Chrysanthemum has been used as a botanical pesticide for centuries.
Lavender attracts butterflies and bees and repels fleas, whitefly and moths, but plant it away from doorways, walks and places where people gather to avoid bee stings.
Marigolds are well known for deterring pests. They keep soil free of bad nematodes, beetles and whiteflies, and they discourage many other insects. Use the scented variety and plant them throughout the garden, but avoid placing them near bean and cabbage plants.
Nasturtium is a great companion to radishes, cucumber, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and mustards. It deters aphids, squash bugs and striped pumpkin beetles and improves growth and flavor. Since it likes poor soil with low moisture and no fertilizer, set potted nasturtium among garden beds. The leaves, flowers and seeds of nasturtiums are all edible. Flowers are both pretty and tasty in salads.
Zinnias attract hummingbirds which eat white flies and zinnias attract bees and other insect pollinators.