Originally titled "In Good Company," from the August 2007 issue of Canadian Living Magazine, on newsstands or click here for the back issue.
There is nothing like “good company.&" Whether they're workmates, friends or family, they just seem to make life better when they're around. The same holds true with plants -- the right companions help the whole garden stay happy.
Herbs are the most helpful of the bunch. I call them multitaskers: they look good, they taste great and -- paired up with the appropriate plants -- they can keep your garden almost carefree. Many repel pests, even as they attract birds and other beneficial visitors.
Some top performers
1. Anise, near coriander, helps deter aphids, snails and slugs; coriander, itself, helps keep aphids, Colorado potato beetle and spider mites at bay.
2. Basil, beside tomatoes, improves the growth and flavour of the fruit and repels tomato hornworms and thrips (not to mention that the basil and tomatoes will be handy for pasta sauce).
3. Borage attracts bees that pollinate tomatoes, squash and strawberries, but puts off cabbage and tomato worms.
4. Catnip helps keep ants, aphids, flea beetles, Japanese beetles, squash bugs and even mice out of flowerbeds, but keeps your kitty happy.
5. Chives, close by, improve the taste of carrots and tomatoes, and help deter aphids on sunflowers and tomatoes, reduce black spot on roses and control apple scab.
6. Dill is a repellant for aphids, cabbage moths and spider mites, and a food source for the larvae of beautiful swallowtail butterflies.
7. Garlic, among raspberry and rose canes, helps prevent disease and repels aphids, coddling moths, Japanese beetles and root maggots.
8. Lavender attracts beneficial pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, but it helps keep mice, mosquitoes, moths, rabbits and ticks away.
9. Mint (watch its invasive tendencies!) is a great companion for cabbage and tomato plants since it helps repel ants, cabbage moths, flea beetles and rodents.
10. Oregano -- an amigo to broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower -- protects against cabbage butterfly and scares away cucumber beetles.
11. Rue has the reputation of discouraging dogs and cats, as well as aphids, onion maggots, slugs, snails and Japanese beetles.
12. Thyme, last but not least, is a longtime enemy of cabbage worms.
Frank Ferragine, a.k.a. Frankie Flowers, can be seen on Toronto's "Breakfast Television" and "CityNews" on Citytv.