By Deb Powers
Luscious strawberries, ripe, red and fresh from the garden, are one of summer’s true treasures. The vegetables, fruits and herbs you plant near and around your strawberry plants may help increase your yield, keep pests away from the vines and improve the flavor of the berries. Companion planting, sometimes called diversity planting, has little support in research, says Kelle Carter in a 2006 article for “The Cutting Edge” newsletter, but strong anecdotal evidence suggests many benefits to choosing your plants’ neighbors wisely. Strawberries have particular tastes in close companions.
Strawberries and greens go together on the plate and in the garden. Spinach and strawberries grow well side-by-side because they each take different nutrients from the soil. The strawberry’s foliage provides natural shade for spinach’s delicate leaves. Spinach and lettuce draw a lot of nitrogen from the soil, creating more favorable conditions for fruit on the berries. When the soil is high in nitrogen, strawberries grow lush foliage and few berries.
Borage, commonly called starflower, will attract bees to help pollinate your strawberries so that they set fruit. The bright blue flowers add visual appeal to your garden, and the plant itself helps replenish trace minerals in the soil, such as potassium. Your strawberries will also benefit from a boost in disease and insect resistance, thanks to the borage. A border of thyme around the strawberry patch will help keep away worms while attracting pollinators.
Strawberries grow happily among legumes such as bush beans and peas. Experts seem divided on whether strawberries get along with onions, chives and garlic. OregonLive’s Vern Nelson suggests planting strawberries alongside chives, peas and radishes, while the staff at Gold Mountain Herb Farm warns against planting chives and garlic near strawberries.
Shade-loving varieties of strawberry do well as a ground cover planted around pear, apple and peach trees.
Avoid planting strawberries near cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts, suggests the staff at Ed Hume Seeds, while the staff at Gold Mountain Herb Farm warns that strawberries don’t get along well with chives, garlic or rosemary.