Who doesn’t love abundant basil over summer? As if you needed another reason to plant some of this aromatic herb, here’s a bonus: companion planting.
What is companion planting?
In the wild, it’s not too common for plants to grow in isolation – any one plant is normally surrounded by an array of other species.
This generally results in healthy competition, along with a number of mutually beneficial side effects such as:
- conditioning soil,
- delivering nutrients,
- attracting pollinators and
- controlling insect infestations.
Companion planting takes a leaf out of nature’s book by pairing or grouping plants that have beneficial relationships. This is typically done in the veggie patch by interplanting with herbs and flowers that help support main produce crops.
While the jury’s still out on there being a scientific basis for these pairings, there’s little be lost from introducing more diversity into your vegetable garden.
What can you plant with basil?
As a bonus, this approach gives easy access to favourite kitchen herbs like basil and parsley.
Companion planting with basil, in particular, is a popular strategy for summer.
It’s thought to repel or confuse numerous hot-weather pest insects with its strong aroma, and of course we can’t get enough of it in summer cooking!
Here are a few popular basil pairings.
Basil and tomatoes
These two pair perfectly in the kitchen, so why not in the veggie patch? Many gardeners swear that the flavour of both plants is enhanced when they are grown together. You’ll have to make a call on that for yourself, but one thing’s for sure – there’ll be no problems throwing together a pizza topping or caprese salad!
Basil and chillies
Basil is widely believed to repel a whole host of insect pests that can interfere with chillies, which also happen to enjoy similar conditions to tomatoes over summer. The same goes for eggplants and capsicums, which are very similar to chillies in their preferences. Spaghetti arrabbiata, anyone?
Basil and parsley or chives
When it comes to herb pairings basil and chives or basil and parsley, companion planting becomes more about matching two plants that have similar environmental preferences. These herbs all like full sun and have similar water and soil needs, so this approach will save you time and energy when it comes to tending both plants.
Basil and marigolds
It’s said that basil and marigolds work as a team to keep pests out of their surrounding area, including neighbouring veggies as well as themselves. Like basil, marigolds are good for planting near tomatoes (marigolds seemingly having a particular ability to help repel nematodes) and asparagus beetle.
Basil and asparagus
Basil is said to help deter asparagus beetles, particularly when planted near asparagus in tandem with tomatoes – handy! Interplanting with parsley and marigolds may even amplify this effect.
This shows how herbs and other plants can interact in various ways to give multiple benefits with everyone coming out a winner. Asparagus is a perennial, however, so nutrients will need to be added back to the surrounding soil between seasons.
Plant some basil today!
Basil is easy to grow and loves the summer sun, so now’s the time to take advantage of the sun and add some to your garden. Why not try some of the pairings above to give your whole veggie patch a boost?