Saturday, August 14, 2021


you plant herbs that don't get along very well with other plants?  The simple answer is they fight for their space and resources in the garden.  The question came to my mind after reading that rosemary is a bad companion to tomatoes.

WHOOPS!!  I have grown rosemary in my greenhouse in the same bed as my tomatoes for at least 15 years.  It was a puzzle as I had never noticed any problems whose origin I could correlate to the relationship between the rosemary and the tomatoes closest to the rosemary.

After much thinking of, was it this or was it that, the only answer I could come up with is that I had mixed two plants with different water requirements.  Rosemary needs a Mediterranean climate of sunlight and dry soil.  Tomatoes also need lots of sunlight but more water.  Because of the greenhouse conditions of  high humidity and air circulation, I have always been frugal with the watering so generally don't have fungal or disease problems with the tomatoes.

The exercise took me to checking the herbs I have planted to learn more about the good, bad and the ugly features of each.

Cilantro draws beneficial insects into the garden-deters aphids, potato beetles, and spider mites.  Benefits beans and peas when planted closely.  Good companions are basil, tansy, yarrow, lavender, dill, spinach, tomatoes.  Bad companion is fennel.

Lavender needs full sun, attracts pollinators and is most valuable planted near the vegetable patch.  It makes an excellent companion for roses.  Lavender is valued in Central Oregon as a deer-resistant plant. Lavender is a Mediterranean herb.  Good companions include rosemary, sage, marjoram, oregano and thyme., all of which do well in pots.  Bad companions would be moisture-loving herbs and plants.

Parsley can be a little tricky to germinate.  Asparagus is believed to benefit the most out of all the veggies planted near it.  Parsley has the reputation of getting along well with roses.  Planted around the base of roses, it is said to enhance the fragrance of the flowers.  Parsley flowers attracts hoverflies, which eat harmful insects including aphids and thrips.  The plant is a favorite of swallowtail butterfly caterpillars as well.  Good companions include beans, basil, cilantro, radish, tarragon, tomatoes.  Bad companions include mint, lettuce.


Sage deters pests such as cabbage moth, bean beetle and carrot fly.  Attracts beneficial insects and pollinators, which helps the whole garden.  Good companions include beans, cabbage, carrots, peas, rosemary, strawberries.  Bad companions include basil, cucumbers, onions.

Thyme is the perennial herb that appears to be everyone's friend.  Thyme is able to protect companion plants from cabbage worms, corn earworms, tomato hornworms and flea beetles.  Attracts beneficial pollinators such as honeybees.  Good companions include rosemary, lavender, oregano, sage, cabbage, potato strawberries, Brussels sprouts.  Bad companions are listed as none. 

What is the difference between an herb and a spice?  Many people use the the terms interchangeably, but there is a difference that distinguish one from the other.  Herbs are obtained from the leaves of plants that do not have woody stems.  They tend to thrive in more temperate climates and can be used fresh or dry.  Spices can be obtained from woody or non-woody plants and are always dried before use.   Except for the leaves, all other parts of the plant are spices, including the seeds, fruits, flowers and bark.  Spices are usually native to hot, tropical climates.

All these definitions mean that the same plant can be both an herb and a spice.  Cilantro is a good example.  Cilantro is the Spanish word for coriander leaves and because of this, cilantro could be classified as an herb.  Dried coriander seeds (a spice) are frequently used in cooking, making it completely legitimate to refer to coriander as either an herb or a spice, just depends on what part of the plant you are using.

Dill you know department.: dill derives its name from the Old Norse word "dilla, meaning "to lull."  The oil derived from the seed has long been used to soothe colicky babies and settle adult digestive upsets.  Ancient Romans wove the yellow flowers into wreaths that served double duty in their banquet halls.  In addition to their beauty, the flowers had a unique aroma which was fresh and spicy.  Perhaps we would be better off using dill flowers rather than plug-in or spray room fresheners for our homes.

Just a thought.

Be sure to mark your calendar to listen to Gardening: Get Good at It "Spiders" segment on Tues. August 17 on KPOV 88.0FM between 9-9:30 a m



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