Inconstant Tales #1: This Herb is Not a Hotel

Herb Trough

My first homemade trough in my new container vegetable garden was stuffed with as many herbs as I could fit. However, three herb plants missed the trip, due to lack of space (a constant issue here). These were two little corianders and a chive fellow. They look upset at being left out because they’ve all had a minor breakdown. The chives have become a hotel for stray aphids; in fact it is fully booked, no rooms left.

This was unexpected. As herbs in general are often advised as companion plants with vegetables, I thought most insects avoided them due to their pungent leaves. I thought this especially of chives. Not so. According to the RHS, they are liked by greenflies. There were mild-mannered lettuces and cabbages next to the chives – why would greenfly not prefer them? Actually, they picked a single cabbage to sit on too, but the chives were the runaway winner. As I have a no-harm rule for all wildlife in the garden, I quickly looked for a way to get them to move on. Use it as an occasional rest stop, fine. But leave the chives some room, okay?

Chives: this herb is not a hotel!

The aphids may be unhelpful for the chives, but they are a food source for our resident hoverflies and ladybirds. For now, the chives have gone to stay with the borage and squash – the area last hosting hoverflies and green bugs. However, the jury’s out on this solution. If they survive the onslaught of aphids, they need a companion plant, a little herb friend.

Coriander and Fennel

The coriander also needs a herb companion. Alone in the greenhouse, it has not fared well, drying out suddenly in a recent heatwave. Outdoors in the herb trough, it flowered immediately, producing seeds but few leaves. Now, it could be the changeable growing conditions lately, or it could its position next to fennel. I knew that dill and fennel are relatives and should not be grown together, but only recently read that coriander should also be away from its familial fennel.

Herb Trough: mint and fennel

The fennel, meanwhile, is happy as larry, while the neighbouring mints are loving life. All these herbs are together in the same trough because they all favour moist soil and the mint receives shade by the fennel.

#FridayFail: coriander

So it looks like there will be no carrot and coriander soup. Maybe some ‘Orange you glad the parsley’s still there’ soup? Or, given the mint explosion, some carrot soup with a hint of ‘After Eights’?

Are you growing herbs? Do you grow coriander, and have you found a companion plant for it?

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