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What is companion planting?

Companion planting is one of the oldest gardening methods. The idea is by combining certain plants the vegetable gardener can deter pests and encourage growth. This might be herb plants with vegetable plants or growing flowers and vegetables together. Every experienced kitchen gardener has their favourite. 

Whatever the space you have available, an extensive kitchen garden, patio veg patch, a bountiful balcony or a cherished allotment, there are companions available for all of your vegetable and herb plants. Please don't be put off, it is very straight forward and you might well be benefiting from it already!

When you are in search of planting ideas for your patio or kitchen garden (big or small) keep some of these herb plants to mind.

We've put together some plant collections to make choosing a little easier, just click on the links for more information, pricing etc.
Companion Planting for Balconies - the smallest collection
Companion Planting for Greenhouses - especially chosen for helping you grow under glass
Companion Planting for Patios - a pretty collection of flowering herbs
Companion Planting for Allotments (and sharing) - over 100 plants to make your vegetable garden or allotment flourish

It's difficult to prove any of these claims, most experienced in the vegetable garden will know about them. Whether you believe it or not, they definitely attract bees and insects and most are very pretty and useful in their own right.

Aniseed as a companion herb. The aniseed plant has a strong smell - liquorice, which masks the scent of brassicas (such as brocoli, cabbage, kale, cauli) to deter pests. Left to go 'to flower' at about 1m tall it makes a lovely natural looking flower which attracts insects. Most other plants benefit from it being nearby. The seeds can be collected for cooking. Looks great in containers on the patio.

Borage as a companion plant. The best of all companions, the borage plant attracts predatory insects and honey bees. It helps almost everything especially strawberries, cucumbers, tomatoes and cabbage. A large plant which self seeds. Beautiful purple flowers. Growing better tomatoes has never looked so good.

Caraway as a companion plant. The caraway helps strawberries and is good at loosening compacted soil. The seeds are edible too! Particularly useful in allotments where you are not growing in raised beds.

Chervil as a companion herb. The chervil plant is a good friend to lettuce as it helps to keep the aphids away. It is said to deter slugs! Chervil makes a good companion to radishes and broccoli to improve growth and flavour. If you leave it to flower (and don't use it all on your potatoes) it is about 1m tall with little white flowers.

Coriander as a companion herb. Known for helping spinach it repels aphids, spider mites, white flies and potato beetle. Lovely white flowers, great for cooking.

Chives and Garlic Chives as companion herbs. The alium family (onions, chives, spring onions, garlic) help to deter aphids and are typically very easy to grow. They are used to improve the growth and flavour of carrots and tomatoes. Perfect for small gardens and window boxes.

Comfrey as a companion herb. Often used a slug trap and great to use the leaves in the compost as they carry many nutrients up from the soil. It is invasive so plant with care. Create a trap with wilted leaves or a border of leaves around your plot. A good idea for allotments as it is a large plant and experienced growers will have hundreds of uses for it.

Dill as a companion herb. Dill is a firm favourite for lettuce, and goes well with onions, cabbage, sweet corn and cucumbers. You must keep it away from carrots, carraway, tomato and lavender. Dill attracts an array of helpful insects providing a fantastic nectar store if you leave it to flower (little yellow flowers) you can still use the leaves to go with fish or cheese. Squash plants may benefit from having some dill leaves scattered around the base to deter squash beetles.

Horehound as a companion herb. Horehound is a member of the mint family but has paler silvery green leaves. It does attract some predatory wasps which feed on aphids. Horehound is an attractive plant which over winters well. It helps fruiting in tomatoes and peppers. Easy to grow in pots or containers.

Horseradish as a companion vegetable. Horseradish needs careful planting as it does spread. It is said to deter potato beetle. Makes a good sauce too.

Hyssop as a companion plant. Hyssops are good for cabbages as they repel cabbage butterflies, also good for grapes. It's lovely flowers attract honey bees and butterflies. We also have it our Flower Power Collection

Lovage as a companion plant. Lovage is thought to improve the health of almost all plants, but it is best to keep it away from rhubarb. A good idea for patios and large gardens alike.

Marigold as a companion plant. Marigolds are one of the most famous companion plants. It's bright orange flowers look good too! However, they might encourage slugs so be careful where you put them. Also avoid planting them near to beans. However, marigolds help to deter whitefly when planted around tomatoes. Every kitchen garden should have a good number of marigold flowers dotted around.

Marjoram as a companion plant. Marjoram is a really useful kitchen herb, with a similar taste to oregano. It is a bit easier to grow. Plant around other vegetables and herbs to help enhance their flavour. A useful windowsill herb.

Nasturtium as a companion plant. Nasturtiums deter aphids and help to improve the growth and flavour of the plants around them. Especially useful for radishes and brassicas. Commonly used as a trap crop to attract black aphids away from other crops. Keep the nasturtiums in pots and then destroy them once infested - it's a bit harsh but your other crops will be pleased.

Rosemary as a companion plant. Reputed to deter cabbage flies and many bean parasites. use rosemary twigs around the base of plants to deter slugs. It is best planted away from basil. Rosemary is said to help sage, cabbage beans and carrots.

Summer Savory as a companion plant. Summer savory is best for beans, onions and sweet potatoes. Bees love it in bloom and it discourages black aphids.

Wormwood as a companion plant. Wormwood helps to keep animal off the plot!

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