My family is really big on tomatoes, particularly my oldest daughter. She could literally just each them straight off the plant all day long. She loves all variety of tomatoes and we want to have a great tomato harvest this year so we have been doing some digging around to find out what will help our tomatoes grow and flourish as much as possible this year. My wife, however, has told me that we have to grow some herbs in the garden as well. I don’t want to plant anything that will take away from the tomato harvest so I looked into what herbs would be best.
So, what is the best herb to grow with tomatoes? Tomato plants do well with a wide variety of herbs. Choosing a companion herb to grow with your tomatoes will depend on what you want out of your tomatoes – flavor, high production, size, etc. Overall, the best herbs to plant with your tomatoes are basil, mint, parsley, and borage.
In reality, there are a ton of benefits of planting herbs around a lot of the vegetables in your garden. Companion planting is an ancient science that you’ll want to get right, planting the wrong thing near your tomato plant could be disastrous.
To help me choose what to put in my garden I started this chart of a handful of veggies I am considering for my garden (I’ll be updating the chart as I learn more about companion gardening):
How to choose the right herb companions
So, now that we know what can and can’t grow together we want to find out how the companions will help. The most important thing to me is taste, but you may be more interested in keeping certain bugs away, or maybe you want a higher production. Whatever the reason, here are some benefits of a few herbs:
- Basil – can be planted near tomatoes, and helps to keep away mosquitoes and flies. Basil is also a great benefit to the flavor of your tomatoes, which is a huge benefit to me! In my yard, we struggle with the mosquito population so this may be a great way to keep them away and benefit my tomatoes!
- Chives – a good herb to plant with your carrots and tomatoes for an enhanced flavor.
- Dill – You’ll want to plant dill a good distance from any carrots, but you can plant it by cabbage no problem. It also works well with tomatoes because it makes a good home to useful insects, but be careful it’s not directly next to the tomato because the tomato and the dill will struggle to grow well.
- Marjoram – Personally I don’t have a lot of experience with marjoram in the garden or in my cooking, but I’ve heard that it grows well with many vegetables.
- Mint – I love the smell of mint in the garden, which means I should probably keep it away from my cucumbers, but it will work well near my cabbage or tomatoes. The drawback to mint is that it’s an invasive plant which means it can take over a large area pretty quickly. Keep it in a pot and place it right under your tomato plant.
- Oregano – Who doesn’t like oregano? It goes well with everything, and vegetable plants agree. Plant it near any veggie.
- Parsley – This is another good one for my tomatoes.
- Rosemary – My wife and my mother love rosemary and it’s a good companion for some veggies like carrots and beans. It helps keep certain bugs away.
- Sage – Avoid putting this one near your cucumbers, but feel free to plant it near your carrots and cabbage as it will keep those pesky cabbage moths and carrot flies at bay.
- Tarragon – works as a good companion for just about all vegetables in your garden.
- Thyme – Keeps cabbage worms away and grows well with cabbage so it’s a perfect match. Thyme is also great for adding flavor to your tomatoes.
- Anise – Helps your cilantro (coriander) grow and germinate. It’s also good near your tomatoes where it will help attract and feed insects that are good for your tomatoes.
- Borage – I’ll definitely be planting this by my tomatoes to fight against tomato worms. It also works well near squash and strawberries. One of the biggest benefits of borage is how aesthetically pleasing its flowers are. It also enhances the flavor of your tomatoes.
- Caraway – Works well near a lot of your veggies and is great at loosening your soil.
- Chervil – This is a good one to plant with your radishes.
- Fennel – Not my favorite herb, and it’s not very good for your veggie garden either. You’ll want to keep it away from your other herbs and vegetables. Perhaps keep it in its own pot.
- Garlic – There’s never enough garlic, and not only does garlic keep vampires away, but it also keeps Japanese beetles away too! Works well in a garden near raspberries and roses.
- Lovage – Unlike fennel, you’ll be happy to know that lovage is loved by other plants as it helps improve their health and the flavor!
- Summer Savory – This is a good one to help with the flavor and growth of your beans and onions.
- Marigolds – My favorite benefit from marigolds is that they enhance the beauty of the garden with bright colors while protecting all my hard work from the insects that tend to love gardens! Marigolds are a must in a great vegetable garden.
- Catnip – Yes, catnip. It’s a great companion for a lot of your veggies because the good insects like it. I wouldn’t put it directly next to my veggies, but somewhere nearby in a pot. Be sure it’s in a pot, it’s a member of the mint family and can be invasive.
Research and planning are your best friends. It’s important to plan out your garden in advance of planting. Planning is real science. The science of creating a harmonious garden is different than that of a farm. I grew up in Kansas and there are a lot of farms in Kansas so I have always been familiar with the concept of crop rotation (a different crop in the same area each season to fight and protect against disease and insect issues). However, I’ve learned that companion planting takes a different angle and train of thought by placing different plants near each other to protect against the diseases and insects to improve productivity.
Here is a more complete companion planting chart from www.almanac.com to help you determine exactly which plants will help each other out in your garden. They also have additional links to help you get the most out of your garden layout.
Plants to Avoid
Just like there are plants that help each other grow there are also plants that take away nutrients and reduce the production of the plants they are near. When it comes to companion planting you need to be sure that you’re not placing incompatible plants near one another in order to avoid stunted growth, low production, disease, and insects.
Herbs and Flowers
Some of the most helpful plants in your vegetable garden are flowering plants like marigolds as well as herbs like mint. These herbs and flowers work well with your vegetable garden by repelling a variety of insect species that can be extremely harmful to your vegetable plants. Marigolds are not only bright and beautiful but they are great protectors of your garden.
Can you plant marigolds with tomatoes?
Absolutely. These plants work very well together due to the similarities needed for growth as well as the protection the marigolds give to the tomato plants. Marigolds help keep harmful bugs away and help protect against root-knot nematodes in your soil. Marigolds are a MUST when it comes to producing the best quality tomatoes. Be sure to plant marigolds between each tomato plant.
What is good to plant after tomatoes?
Many gardeners practice the same crop rotation methods that farmers use in order to get the best and most out of their crops each year. Planting beans and peas after tomatoes will help your soil for the following seasons’ tomato crop.