the company of herbs part 2

herbs go together – not just on the plate but in the garden.

When it comes to potatoes, if accompanied by horseradish (Armoracia rusticana) in the kitchen is a pleasing enough combination but if you make that match in the garden then wow because horseradish planted near potatoes helps to deter potato bugs and seems also to facilitate more disease-resistant potato tubers. Coriander (Coriandrum sativum), Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) and Marigolds, both pot and French, all seem to have a similar effect in potato crop health.

Coriander enhances the flavours and growth of Asparagus as well as chervil and spinach when planted nearby, it certainly draws in beneficial insect. Tansy is one of those plants like peas and beans that add to soil fertility by boosting an element or mineral in the soil. With peas and beans they add nitrogen, the growth activator to soil while with tansy it is potassium that is within its gift. It is a bit bitter for culinary purposes but is still to be found in some recipes.

When it comes to the marigolds there are two different species with that moniker; the French (tagetes spp) and the pot (calendula spp), but both are beneficial. Some Tagetes are scentless but opt for the musky ones as their pungent scent and root secretions deter a whole range of insect pests. They are invaluable for dissuading negative nematodes and work a treat amongst potato, tomato, aubergine and chill plants. They are not edible even though employed as a food colorant in some margarines, ice cream and confectionary (note INS-Number E161b), so keep them off your plate, they can feed the butterflies and beetles instead. The edible marigolds are the pot variety, better addressed as calendula.

Calendula along with tagetes, poppies, and nasturtium, and will draw in beneficial hoverflies but calendula above all seems to radiate positive in the garden and amongst all the edible flowers it colour synonymous with Buddhist robes does seem to resonate joy. In the kitchen that colour substitutes for saffron. Back in the garden calendula is one of those deter and decoy plants, it does repels tomato hornwoms and even asparagus beetles but It also attracts caterpillars and aphids so is often planted away from veg as trap plant to lure those pests away from precious edibles as is similarly done with nasturtium.

Of all the edible flowers I really like the colour palette (soft pastels to rich reds and vibrant oranges, I recently acquired a deep burgundy) of nasturtium and also their flavour is appealing to my palate too. Both The flowers and leaves are peppery in taste. But more than a heat infused garnish, try stuffed nasturtium flowers or nasturtium pesto. Back in the garden nasturtiums planted with cucumbers will help improve both flavour and growth, as well as deterring aphids and cucumber beetles. If given the company with the Cabbage Family (Broccoli, cabbage, kale, kohlrabi and Brussels sprouts) the yields are healthier as nasturtiums also deter Japanese beetles, cabbage looper and cabbage worm. Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) and dill (Anethum graveolens) near rather than amongst the cabbage clan can help lure cabbage butterflies away.

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris and varieties) when planted near cabbage also helps to deter cabbageworms and whitefly and is the perfect accompaniment to All meats. I like herb butters and marinades with thyme but thyme roasted apples or sautéed potatoes and apple with thyme is best use hands down.

When it comes to apple trees an underplanting of nasturtium is utilized to repel the codling moth while an underplanting of chamomile is said to boost flavour and inhibit scab. Chamomile (both Chamaemelum nobile and Matricaria chamomilla) has a tonic effect, much lauded in herbals and medicinal treatises but it is also tonic in its tea form as a cooled foliar feed to any ailing plant. Hyssop fragrance is reputed to deter both cabbage butterflies and cabbage moth larvae. It is a good nectar source for other butterflies and will attract many pollinators. Bees love it.

Dill draws pests away from cauliflower and cabbage in the garden but adds to their flavour in the kitchen. Great also with potato, turnips, green beans, cheese, and in soups and sauces. Bees also love borage (Borago officinalis) a great companion plant for tomatoes in that it deters tomato worms and aphids. In the kitchen borage flowers make decorative ice cubes for cool sips and garnish salads to perfection. I like to bejewel cous-cous and cold rice dishes with borage, nasturtium, rose and marigold flowers.

Summer savory (Satureja hortensis) is a great company for beans, onions and garlic in the garden and kitchen. All the nuances of sage but is also digestive. Summer Savory is traditional in soups, stews, and stuffing, but also accompanies with fish, chicken and eggs. Winter savory (Satureia montana) is savoury by nature , try making an apple, nut (of choice) and savory leaf stuffing or add some herb to a cassoulet. In the garden it companions nicely with legumes, keeping peas and beans in good stead. Both savorys are peppery and cool. Mint is more cool than peppery even peppermint but in the garden they put the heat upon cabbage moth and help tomatoes too, keep in pots as they are invasive.

Other herb staples that act as health-giving companions such as rosemary, parsley, sage and thyme are sold live in many supermarkets and can be divided to populate the garden as well as the kitchen window. Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) will benefit from the company of asparagus and tomatoes and reward them in return. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) near cabbage, beans, carrots deters cabbage moth, bean beetles, and carrot fly. A traditional kitchen ingredient for poultry, lamb, and tomato dishes but wonderful in sourdough breads. Sage (Salvia officinalis) also deters cabbage moth and carrot fly and is a boon to lessen salt dependency in cooking. Thyme deters the unhelpful kind of worms and boosts the flavour notes of casseroles, stews, soups and ragouts. Oregano (Origanum vulgare) in both kitchen and garden is good with summer squash and potatoes, and tomatoes. Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium) and radishes work on the plate and in the ground and chervil helps keep aphids off lettuces if planted amongst them.

I love gardening and I love food. growing your own is wonderful but eating your own is full of wonder too; Until next time enjoy the garden and the gifts it brings to the kitchen and to ourselves and the company we keep.

About The Holistic Gardener

I am a horticulturalist and holistic practitioner interested in how the garden and engagement with nature facilitates full potential living and therapeutic benefits.
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