Long before the introduction of modern chemical pesticides and insecticides, gardeners practiced companion planting to minimize crop damage and grow better tasting vegetables. Sometimes called beneficial plants, companion plants deter pests, while others attract pests away from more desirable plants, and still other companion plants improve the growth, vigor and taste of garden vegetables.
Tomatoes and Basil
Basil and tomatoes help each other grow better. The tomatoes will produce more and better tasting fruit. Basil will grow much more lush and contain more essential oil, giving it a more pronounced flavor. Tomatoes and basil are both heat-loving plants and should be planted outdoors after all danger of frost has past. Plant basil far enough away from the tomatoes so that it is not shaded or crowded out as the tomatoes mature.
Dill and Cabbage
Dill improves the growth of cabbage. It will help cabbage and other members of the cabbage family grow healthy and robust. The cabbage intensifies the flavor of the dill and encourages it to grow more flowers and seeds. Space cabbage plants a foot further apart than the spacing recommended on the seed package, and plant a few dill seeds in between the cabbage plants. Thin to the strongest plant when the dill seedlings are about 4 inches high.
Peas and Mint
Mint improves the health and flavor of peas. Although mint is commonly used as a seasoning for cooked peas, it is also beneficial when grown in close proximity to both garden peas and the edible podded varieties. Put a mint plant at either end of your pea patch, preferably planted in a sunken pot to keep it from spreading. Spearmint (Mentha spicata) is the best variety of mint as a companion to peas.