All garden centers and nurseries have shelves full of insecticides. When used properly, they are very effective with one very large drawback: they kill everything, good insects and bad insects. What’s a “good” insect you ask? A good insect, or beneficial insect , is one that pollinates your plants by carrying pollen from one plant to another while they sample the nectar. Without pollinators, there would be no flowers and vegetables. Instead of bombing your yard and killing everything, use herbs to selectively repel pests from your garden.
A great way to keep pests out of your garden is to not allow them in in the first place. Wormwood (Artemisia) repels most pests, so plant it along the outside of your garden. If you have trouble with flea beetles, use catnip as a barrier plant. Tarragon is another general insect repellent as well as enhancing the flavor of your eggplants.
Borage and thyme both repel cabbage worms. Plant borage with your tomatoes to keep away the dreaded tomato hornworm. If you have a problem with aphids, try chives, cilantro (the seed is coriander), dill, anise, catnip, mints, nasturtiums or chervil. Beat the bean beetle with rosemary or summer savory. Plant rosemary, sage, hyssop, mints or southernwood next to your cabbages to deter cabbage moths.
To repel potato beetles, try cilantro, flax, or dead nettle. Oregano deters cucumber beetles. Plant cilantro or dill to keep spider mites out and rosemary or sage against carrot flies.
Insects aren’t the only creatures that are repelled by herbs. Animals stay away from wormwood. Cut up some mint and use it as a mulch that does double duty to keep mice away from your crops.
Before you reach for the insecticide, try planting herbs instead. It is safer for you and the food that you harvest from your vegetable garden.