When you are planning your vegetable garden, take a moment to consider your design. Always group plants according to sun, water and nutrient needs, but companion planting--the practice of using certain plants to benefit and protect common vegetable and garden plants--is a good idea, too. When you visit the nursery or garden center, bring along a list of complimentary plants for the vegetable garden. Space plants correctly for best results.
Tomatoes are the most popular choice for home gardeners. To achieve the best flavor and overall health, consider chive (Allium schoenoprasum) and mint (Mentha). These delicious additions to your garden, however, can become invasive and it is best to confine them to pots. Border your tomato rows with marigolds (Tagetes sp.). These popular annual repels tomato worms. Basil (Ocimum basilicum), the tomato's natural culinary complement, deters hornworms and flies.
Marigolds are not just tomato allies. Planted in and around your bean bushes or vines, they repel Mexican bean beetles. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), a tender perennial in areas outside of zone 8, repels bean beetles as well. Aromatic rosemary can be added to tomato dishes and pairs well with lamb and chicken. To enhance your bean plant's overall health, plant summer savory (Satureja hortensis). This annual herb is used in soups, stews and chowders.
Your cucumber plants, too, will benefit from the beetle-busting qualities of your marigold border. Oregano (Origanum vulgare) is a general pest repellent, and pairs well with tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), a flowering perennial. It is not a culinary herb--it's flowers are poisonous if consumed in quantity--but its insect repelling qualities and pleasant fragrance make it a popular garden addition.
Cole crops (broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower) are troubled by worms, beetles and aphids. Surround these cool season favorites with tansy and thyme (Thymus vulgaris). These aromatic herbs deter cabbageworms. Nasturtiums (tropaeolum majus), annual flowers that thrive in cooler temperatures, deter beetles and aphids.