Companion Planting: 10 Herbs That Repel Garden Pests
Are you planting a garden with your children this summer? If so, you’ll enjoy learning about 10 herbs that repel garden pests!
I’ve homeschooled for many years, and I’ve seen for myself that children usually learn more and enjoy their studies much more when they do hands-on, real-life activities. Gardening is a great way for kids to discover science in a natural way. Not only will they learn a lot in the process, but they’ll get to eat the yummy results!
Yes, gardening can be hard work, but it can also be rewarding. There are definitely some important reasons to make gardening a part of your homeschool if possible in spite of the hard work. (Actually, teaching your children to be hard workers is, in my opinion, a benefit of gardening, not a drawback!)
Unfortunately, dealing with garden pests is also part of gardening. If you want to eat your produce yourself instead of sharing it with pests that ruin your hard work, try planting some of these 10 herbs that repel garden pests. Simply plant them along with your veggies. Not only will your family enjoy the veggies you’ve grown, but you’ll have fresh herbs to use or to dry and use all winter.
I purposely plant extra herbs so I’ll have some to use right away and some to dry and use later. To dry and save them, I gather my herbs, wash them, and lay them on paper-towel-lined pans to dry on the counter. Once they’re completely dried out (which may take a few days if done indoors), I place them in jars, make sure the lids are secure, and store them in the cabinet until I need them. Then I can enjoy flavorful, pesticide-free herbs all winter!
NOTE: Toward the bottom of this article, you’ll find suggestions for making your summer garden part of your homeschool curriculum! Some of the ideas are more “school-ish” and some are more “hands-on, real-life” experiences. Most of them can be used with children or teens, and most of them can be easily adapted for younger children or special needs kids. I hope you’ll give some of them a try, and I think you’ll be glad you did!
10 Herbs That Repel Garden Pests
Yes, planting herbs along with your garden vegetables really is a great idea for several reasons! But how do you know which herbs to plant? Below I’ll give you some tips for which herbs to plant depending on which kinds of pests you have in your area and which kinds of vegetables you grow.
Why use herbs instead of pesticides?
When you and your children work hard to grow a garden and are excited to enjoy what you’ve grown, you don’t want insects to destroy your plants! Toxic insect sprays are not the only answer to maintaining a bug-free garden, though. I prefer to take a more natural approach to the problem by growing herbs that will repel the insects along with the vegetables.
What herbs should be used to protect against which pests?
Planting herbs with vegetables that complement each other is what we call companion planting. When paired correctly, herbs can repel insects that would otherwise destroy the nearby plant. To get you started, here’s a list of 10 herbs that repel garden pests.
- Basil repels mosquitoes, carrot fly, whitefly, and asparagus beetles.
- Catnip repels ants, weevils, squash bugs, aphids, beetles, and cockroaches.
- Chamomile repels flying insects.
- Chives repels aphids, beetles, and carrot fly.
- Dill repels squash bugs, spider mites, aphids, tomato hornworms, and cabbage looper.
- Garlic repels aphids, beetles, carrot fly, and rabbits.
- Nasturtium repels white fly, squash bugs, aphids, beetles, and cabbage looper.
- Oregano repels mosquitos (technically a pest for people, not plants), cucumber beetles, and cabbage butterfly.
- Parsley repels asparagus beetles.
- Thyme repels corn earworm, white fly, tomato hornworms, cabbage looper, and maggots.
Is it too late to plant herbs to help protect my garden?
If you have your garden well underway this summer but find that pests are a problem for you, it’s not too late to do something about it! Many of these plants can be found at a local store or farmer’s market (instead of starting from seed) and planted next to the vegetables.
Turn Your Garden Into an Even More Educational Experience
Besides studying herbs that repel garden pests, there are lots of other ways to make your garden an educational experience! If you’d like to read even more ideas for making gardening educational, I’ve included a variety of ideas for doing that.
You don’t have to do an “official” unit study. If you do want to do that, though, there are lots of resources that will make it easy for you. Or if you’d rather make it less overtly educational, there are lots of ways to do that too! No matter which approach you prefer, you’ll find helpful ideas here:
- Our article, Use Your Garden as an Outdoor Classroom, shares information about gardening with children and using Jeannie Fulbright’s Exploring Creation with Botany as the backbone of your study.
- Do some research ahead of time to make a plan for starting your garden. You may want to use our Free Garden Planner for Kids to help make your plan and get started!
- If you’re not sure when to plant your garden, this article will help. Make this an educational discussion by talking with your children about reasons why it’s important not to plant too early in the season, why it’s necessary to consider your planting zone, and why different areas of the country are different zones.
- Use one of Julia Rothman’s Companion Notebooks (specifically the Farm Anatomy notebook and the Food Notebook) as a way to expand your study from gardening to all kinds of nature studies.
- Talk about and do some nature journaling with your kids! There are lots of great reasons to keep a nature journal. If you’re not sure what notebook to use for nature journaling, we love the ones created by Jeannie Fulbright (author of the botany book I mentioned in the first point).
- As your garden grows, use our Garden Notebook Pages to record information about the plants such as care of each plant, garden pests, days until harvest, and even a recipe that you’d like to try making with each veggie. (To get this set of notebook pages for FREE, use the coupon code FreeNotebookPages.)
- Teach your children about garden tools and maintenance.
- Talk with your children about life lessons you can learn from gardening.
- Have some fun with gardening and language arts by writing poems or short stories about gardening. These could be funny or informational. Have your children write from the perspective of a garden plant that’s growing underground or on a vine above ground.
- Let your children take turns being a reporter and being a gardener. Have the reporter interview the gardener about the process of gardening. How did you start your garden? What must be done regularly to maintain it? What happens when your plants are ready to harvest? How do you keep pests out of your garden? Etc.
- Have your children use the information they got from the interview to write a news article.
- Or let them make a video of the interview.
- If you have children who love art, you can even have them create pretty posters or flyers to share their information.
- Try making your own garden soil.
- Research heirloom seeds and decide if you want to use them. What are heirloom seeds? Why would you want to use them? Are there any disadvantages to using heirloom seeds?
- Learn about medicinal herbs you might want to grow in your garden.
- Learn about plants that can help improve your health. On a related topic, learn about the healing power of onions and several health-related uses for them.