The potato plants are putting out their buds. Time to keep them watered.
I would like to make a good analogy for the use of planting herbs around one's garden, like: "Herbs are to your garden what something is to something"; but I can't think of any, so there it is.
Herbs are not essential to your garden per say; you could grow crops without them. But I can only make that statement because the relationships of diverse flora do not operate under terms of "essential" or "useful" or "beneficial". The aim should not be what you can do without, but how much you can include. How much flora can you get in around your gardening space and landscape (without turning it into a haphazard jungle of course; modesty and sparing does fix into this), while at the same time considering use of space, light, companion planting, aesthetics and so forth. This brings me to the point I wanted to make about really successful gardening: you need to have so much going on that whatever failures may occur, they will not spell Total Failure.
A garden ought to be made to develop a rhythm of its own; a flurry of interchanging and limitless propositions that relieves the gardener of the utilitarian approach. With all of the gardener's new trials and experiments, there ought to be a concomitant drive towards permanence for those trials and experiments to take place in, as one builds up the space one has. The prominent term for this is permaculture, which seeks to create an environment that is basically its own mini eco/climate system, rather than merely a bed that one plants with one kind of crop one year, another kind another year, and nothing much else going on besides.
It seeks to include everything. It wants birds and butterflies and flies and bees. It wants moisture retention and shade in the right places and rocks and shrubs and trees. It wants every nook and cranny incorporated in the whole. The gist is that the more seemingly unrelated flora you grow around each other, the more you have a protected home for your crops; and things need a home to thrive. Even the big monoculture fields need to utilize trees along the edges of fields to protect from winds eroding the soil and damaging crops.
There are many things that go into making this; and all of it is, to my mind, mere common sense, carried through to its mad, joyful conclusion of simply doing it, according to one's dreaming, thinking, and sane encounter with what is at one's disposal. I would rather call permaculture Sprawl, but for the sake of this post I will call it permaculture.
This is nothing new. People in the old days had at least some kind of grasp of it, having profuse borders of crowded herbs and flowers; a corner occupied with a tree; rocks placed so as to create a heat sink, or alternatively a cool place for storage.
When seeking permaculture, herbs are a good place to start. One question is how vigorous and invasive are the herbs you want to plant and how much and what kind of space do you have. Adjust accordingly. Be shrewd. You can fit herbs in the tightest corners. Thyme thrives in bad soil; it hates rich soil; perfect for rocky ground and in between rocks. Worried about certain herbs, like mints, naturalizing a little too much and taking over? Devise a "half in the ground/half potted" system around borders using brick or rock, forming a bowl in the ground and planting in there. This can allow for easy pull-up for root pruning and replanting; it's both permanent and controllable.
Some herbs I'm growing, mostly from seed, some from store bought plants:
The fact is, having herbs around your garden is indispensable. There are some, like yarrow, that merely being beside other crops helps them to grow better and taste better. Some confuse pests that detect your crops through smell. Some repel pests. Most do all these things together, as well as attracting beneficial insects. Many can be ruthlessly harvested for mulch and "green manure", and they'll spring right back again. Often the most common ones, stuff you see growing in roadside ditches, like yarrow, are the best all round ones.
And call me crazy, but I noticed when I placed all those mints in and around the cabbages, it was like the cabbages just got real perky. You can just tell that the cabbage loves having the mint around.