June in the gardenJune 1, 2020
Bring the outdoors inJune 26, 2020
This article is brought to you by Kate, owner of Botany for Beginners.
Perennial herbs are a wonderful addition to any vegetable garden. Unlike annuals that die back after each growing season, perennials are able to establish themselves in your garden once they are planted. They either self-seed or continue to grow year-round, allowing you to cut them back frequently to use in cooking, baking or natural remedies.
Perennial herbs play a vital role in any organic vegetable garden, where they act as natural pest control. In some cases they act as a repellent of harmful insects or as a sacrificial plant, drawing the bad guys away from your veggies. Others attract beneficial pollinators and predators that do the work of getting rid of the unwanted bugs for you.
They are also necessary for the positive impact that they have on soil structure. The root systems of perennials contribute to the aeration of the soil, to the benefit of neighbouring plants and encourage a healthy balance of microscopic life in the soil. The well-established roots of most perennials can draw water from deeper in the ground, allowing annuals, with more shallow root systems, to access water in the upper layers of the soil.
These are my Top 10 Perennial Herbs to have in the garden:
Lavender is such an easy herb to grow. It is a hardy shrub with low water requirements and does well even in poor soil. Bees and butterflies love lavender, so plant it for a pollinator friendly garden. Lavender repels moths, flies and mozzies and the flowers make beautiful bouquets to have in your home. Lavender essential oil is also known for its soothing properties.
- Perennial Basil
Perennial Basil is a hit with pollinator insects. It is one of my most favourite plants in the garden because of the constant buzz of happy bees! It is also quite a hardy, unfussy shrub to grow. You can use it in cooking, but the flavour is a bit stronger than sweet basil, so a little goes a long way.
If you have planted cabbages, make sure you have sage planted nearby. The strong aroma from the leaves repels leaf-eating insects. Planted near tomatoes, it gives the tomatoes a boost and deters tomato hornworms. There are different varieties of sage, with pineapple sage being one of my favourites. The bright red flowers attract nectar-loving birds and pollinator insects.
Thyme attracts predator insects like Lacewing. Adult lacewings feed on nectar, whereas the larvae are predators of aphids and other destructive insects. The strong scented leaves also act as a deterrent for pests. Thyme essential oils can be used to make a natural pest repellent.
Marjoram is part of the same family as Oregano and they have a similar appearance. It is an excellent companion as it gets along with most plants and is believed to encourage growth in neighbouring plants. Bees love its flowers and its leaves can be used fresh or dried in cooking, especially in Italian dishes.
6. Bay Leaf
Bay leaves come from the Laurel Nobilis tree. If regularly cut back, they make beautiful hedges and as companions in the garden, the strong aroma of the leaves repel moths and other unwanted insects. Because they respond so well to pruning, you can plant a Bay Leaf tree even if you have limited space. The leaves can be used fresh or dried in cooking.
Rosemary is an attractive addition to any veggie garden. Aside from being a delicious herb to use in cooking, stews and roasts, its delicate blue flowers bring bees to the garden. The powerful aroma of Rosemary is an excellent deterrent for unwanted insects. It is also drought resistant, which is great for water scarce areas.
Mint is a very determined plant and can dominate the area where it is planted, but with vigilance and regular pruning, there is nothing to worry about. It grows well in the shade even though it prefers sun. The strong smell of mint deters aphids, flies, cabbage moths, ants and mozzies, while the flowers attract beneficial insects. Plant it near your cabbages to keep bugs at bay.
Nasturtium is a little different from the other herbs listed here, as it’s actually great to have in the garden as a sacrificial plant. Nasturtium draws sap-sucking aphids away from your veggies, where they attach themselves under the leaves and on the stems of the plant. However, the bright flowers attract predator insects that feed on the aphids, so in essence it’s the perfect ambush! If I look in my garden now, the only place I can find aphids is on the Nasturtiums! It is unattractive to cabbage pests, so it is another good one to have around if you are planting any member of the brassica family. They also have the added bonus of thriving on neglect, so they are perfect for water-scarce areas and beginner gardeners.
10. Wild Garlic
Wild Garlic is native to Africa, also known by the name Tulbaghia (for those of you in other parts of the world). It is part of the onion family, has a garlic-like flavour and can be used as a garlic substitute in cooking. Planted around your veggie garden, the smell repels pests and the bulbs can be used to create a non-toxic aphid repellent spray. The beautiful purple flowers attract bees. It has strong anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties as a medicinal herb.
Source: Botany for Beginners