Now is the thyme to sow!

Sorry…that was an appalling pun. But true – now is the time to sow parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, Simon and Garfunkel…sorry – I did it again. What I mean is that Spring is almost here and it’s time to sow the seeds for the herbs and greens that will keep your salads healthy and tasty throughout summer.

For herbs, sow:

Parsley, sage, thyme, dill, mint, basil, chives, oregano and coriander.

For fruit and vegetables, sow:

Beans, beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, capsicum, carrot, chicory, Chinese cabbage, cucumber, eggplant, lettuce, melons, mustard, onion, parsnip, potato, pumpkin, radish, rosella, silver beet, squash, tennis – sorry – sweet potato, sweetcorn, tomato, watermelon.

That’s a whole lot, isn’t it? Here’s a few key ideas that may help you start a vegetable patch in time for spring.

Companion planting, or permaculture, is a sustainable way to grow your own food without needing to protect your fledgling crop with nasty chemicals. Nature has got it all worked out with the natural chemicals in the plants. The following are just few reliable partnerships.

Tomatoes

Fresh Tomatoes on a Vine

Marigolds are renowned for partner-planting with tomatoes to add to their flavour and keep away the pests without having to resort to pesticides. They look lovely, too.

Basil grows well beside tomatoes, thriving in the same full-sun position and enhancing the flavours of the fruit as they grow. Another great companion herb is chive, adding to the tomato flavour when it’s in the ground and in the pot. Thyme does the same, as does sage, dill and oregano. The gossip on borage is that it protects the tomatoes from bugs, but this has yet to be proven.

However, the Katniss Everdeen of repellent plants is the nasturtium. Even more wonderful (thank you, Mother Nature) is that these pretty, perennial creepers have leaves and flowers that you can eat, making them one of the most useful plants in the soil and in the salad bowl.

Mint works well with tomatoes but can run a little wild in the garden; but can’t we all…

Pumpkin

Pumpkins

Speaking of wild, did you know that you need a male and a female pumpkin vine for the female to grow fruit? Those frisky little pumpkins are getting it on down there, so make sure to cough before entering the garden when the pumpkins are in season.

Having established that pumpkins are friendly folk, need we state that companion planting works well with pumpkins, too? Corn and beans are a great fit and planting marjoram is said to produce better tasting produce. But don’t plant potatoes near pumpkins – they cramp each other’s style and you are sure to get blight.

So, get out there and start planting. A window-box will grow tomatoes and delicious herbs and the most neglected patch of earth can soon be a hotbed of pumpkin passion.

When you are overwhelmed by an influx of fruit and veg from your very own garden, make soup and freeze it, ready for winter.

For more information on permaculture, go to: https://permacultureaustralia.org.au/

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