Since I had spent the past year kicking cancer’s butt, I didn’t grow as much fresh produce or herbs as I once did last summer. However, I did grow a few of my beloved San Marzano tomatoes (plants from the Carbondale Farmer’s Market,) basil, a bit of oregano and rosemary– and a lot of mint. This gave me some flavorful options: salsa, pestos, gazpacho, and more.
Above: San Marzano Tomatoes and Thai Basil
Below: Herb Pesto and a bit of Pico de Gallo sauteed with mushrooms.
So far this season, I have a little lettuce, thyme, oregano, parsley, basil cilantro, and an expanding mint patch. I still need to finsish areas for tomatoes, peppers, onions, lots of basil, and hopefully even watermelons…. and more flowers. I am a fan of edible landscape.
Mixing herbs and flowers and veggies can be a good thing. Consulting a companion planting chart might be wise if they will share soil. Essentially, some have researched the Native American practice of planting certain plants together that support each other’s growth. Tisquantum, also known by many as Squanto, acted as a lifesaving liaison to the pilgrims. Without his assistance and sharing his knowledge of companion planting and organic fertilization, food would have been much more sparse. What is referred to as the Three Sister’s Method involved planting corn, beans, and squash together for successful growth. Squanto also taught the new immigrants to plant fish with corn as natural fertilizer. People now also may use other organic material when planting such as egg shells and shrimp shells.
Above: Cayenne peppers
Below: Japanese Eggplant
Listed below are some common companion planting groupings:
Some No-No’s/Plants that Don’t Play Well Together:
Dill doesn’t go by tomatoes, rosemary, sage, onions, peas
Tomatoes don’t go by corns, peas, beans, cucumbers, squash
Fennel doesn’t go with onions, parsley, asparagus, cucumbers, carrots, nasturtiums, marigolds
There are also some functional benefits to landscape gardens beyond beauty and food. Marigolds have been used for many years as a detourrant to wildlife eating gardens as well as mosquitoes when used as a border.
Below are a few plants and what they are known for repelling:
Marigolds- plant lice, mosquitoes, rabbits.
Chrysanthemums- Ants, Japanese beetles, roaches, bed bugs, spider mites, silverfish, ticks, lice
Mint- spiders, ants, mosquitoes. (Will spread and take over an area quickly. Planters or separate patches are best.)
Below: Fresh Mint
Below: Basil-mosquitoes, houseflies
Citronella grass- mosquitoes and flying insects
Petunias-beetles, leafhoppers, aphids, tomato worms
Bay leaves- flies, roaches
Garlic-beetles, root maggots, carrot root flies, moths,aphids
I’m also a fan of repurposing or using unexpexted items as planters. A few things, usually at least tomatoes, tend to go directly into the ground when possible, but that also increases the prospects of weeds. I have previously turned old door frames and box springs into raised garden beds for more shallow-growing plants like my oregano, lettuce, and green onions.
In Southern Illinois, we are blessed to have a climate that allows us to grow many things. I am thankful for that opportunity.