Tomatoes are easy-to-grow plants that provide juicy, vitamin C-enriched fruits for the table. While they're easy to grow, keeping pests away from tomatoes can be a little challenging. Chemicals are one way to go about ridding your garden of beetles and other insects, but if you want to keep your garden organic, try using a few helpful plants, flowers and herbs to keep those pesky insects away from your tomato plants.
Onions are good companion vegetables for your tomatoes. They repel aphids, tiny insects that suck the sap from the tomato plant leaves and stems, causing the leaves and buds to curl and die. Aphids are known to transmit plant viruses, which may cause more harm to your tomato plants. Onions make good companions for tomatoes out of the garden too. Use onions and tomatoes together on burgers, mix them in salads or salsas to add a fresh, homegrown taste to your meals.
Basil is an excellent insect repellent for the tomato. This herb keeps flies, aphids, hornworms, mites and mosquitoes away from your crops. There is a large variety of basil, so try planting a few different kinds in your garden. Good choices are sweet basil, lemon basil and cinnamon basil. All varieties of basil plants will help keep your tomatoes insect-free and can be used to add flavor to tomato sauces, pestos and to other food dishes.
Borage is known as one of the prettiest herbs. Its bright blue, star-shaped flowers will add beauty to your garden and will guard you tomato plants against tomato hornworms. Hornworms eat tomato plant leaves and will eventually eat the fruit. The borage flower is often used to decorate gin-based summer cocktails. Chopped borage leaves are stirred into soups and stews to add flavor. The flower may be dried and used to scent potpourri.
Chives are a member of the onion family, and they will keep sap-sucking aphids away from your tomato plants. Chives have a tangy, light onion flavor, are high in vitamins A and C and folic acid. Grow chives to protect your tomatoes and enjoy the extra benefit of using them alongside tomatoes in egg dishes, soups and on baked potatoes.
Marigolds are considered the most effective of all plants in keeping insects out of your garden. Plant a border of these hardy flowers along your garden and you'll keep most pests at bay. Marigolds stop tomato hornworns, mites, beetles and nematodes. Two varieties of the marigold plant are edible--the lemon gem and the tangerine gem produce fernlike foliage that can be used in salads and on egg dishes.
Nasturtium are considered a gardener's dream. They are easy to care for, produce beautiful flowers and both the leaf and flower are edible. Best of all, they fend off many varieties of tomato pests, including white flies, aphids and beetles. Nasturtium blossoms have a spicy flavor and can be added to salads, vinegars and eggs and work well when stirred into cheese dips.