Companion Planting for Tomato


Tomatoes are the most common plant to find in a home veggie garden. What should you grow next or near to them in order to get the best results?

Companion planting is art as much as it is science. The point of companion planting is to find plants whose properties of smell or chemicals that they release into the soil benefit or retard development in their neighbours and by neighbours I mean within 30 inches  from each other.

I’d be interested in what experiences you have had with companion planting tomatoes. Some people will disagree which side of the ledger beetroot should be on or even beans belong here.

This infographic is a tomato companion planting guide which shows you 9 good and 9 bad companions for your tomato plants. Basil has been shown to increase yields by 20% (according to this paper) but the basil plant also benefits from being close to tomato. And of course they are natural companions in the kitchen as well.


What to plant in December

Kohl Rabi

Here’s what you could be planting in December

Zones 10b through to 7a ( everywhere else is too cold, unless you are planting undercover)

  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cauliflower
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Collards
  • Kohlrabi
  • Lettuce
  • Mustard
  • Onions,
  • Peas,
  • Radish
  • Swiss chard
  • Spinach
  • Turnips.

How to Grow Brassicas


Autumn and Winter are brassica planting seasons and this article is a quick growing guide to getting the most out of these beautiful, nutritious and delicious veggies.

The most common eating types of brassicas are;

They have plenty of fibre and contain vitamin C as well as anti-cancer properties. Nearly all of them are big leafy plants and that means you must make sure that your soil is well prepared with plenty of compost and manure. Organic nitrogen materials like watered down coffee ground, human urine and chook poo are all welcomed by brassicas. I also plant nitrogen fixing plants like broadbeans and peas nearby.

Brassica Pests

During their very early stages of life, brassicas can be annihilated by pests. White moth in particular like to lay eggs on the under side of brocolli and the caterpillers feast on the tender leaves. There are a couple of non-pesticide ways of minimising this illicit harvest this and one insecticide way.

1) A chilli and garlic chopped up and added to 1L of water and allowed to diffuse over night. Spray every couple of days both on top and under the plant leaves.

2) A soapy water mixture applied in a similar fashion can also help.

3) Companion planting bug attractors like marigold and daisies can bring beneficial bugs to the party.

4) Don’t plant all of your cabbages in a row. It makes it easier for the white moth to identify the leaves. But if you break it up a little with other companion plants (see broadbeans above), your plants will have fighting chance.

5) Daily inspection by a human underneath the plants leaves. Look for little oval shaped eggs and brush them off. Also look for the green caterpillars and signs of munching.

6) Broken up eggs shells around the base of younger plants can help deter snails and slugs.

7) A physical netting or barrier will help control flying pests, but not so much slugs.

8) If none of these work, then pyrethrum can be an option. It is an insecticide and it will kill beneficial bugs, but it does break down quickly (particularly in sunshine) and I’m really only mentioning it, rather than recommending it.

Maximising Harvest

Once you have gotten your brassicas past the pests and bugs, there are few tricks that you can use to get good flavour and bounty from your veggies.

1) Brocolli – for cultivars like Green Dragon, you can slice the middle flower of when it is about the size of a twenty cent piece and that will start the plant producing shoots or brocolli. These can mean you have a plant that is producing lots over a longer period of time

2) Cauliflower – when the first signs of a curd (the bit you eat) you need to protect it from direct sunlight as this leads to a bitter tasting curd. If the curd isn’t holding a nice tight head, this is usually because of under watering. Watch out for dry spells, especially if you have planted late in winter.

7 Gardening Mistakes to Avoid


We’ve all made mistakes when growing vegetables. We’ve forgotten to water, we’ve planted at the wrong time, or we’ve killed a plant that our partner had a particular fondness for. It happens to every gardener and it doesn’t make you are not a hopeless brown thumb.

I’m a better veggie gardener because of the mistakes that I’ve made. Let me share with you the big gardening mistakes to avoid.

1.    Not learning from your mistakes.

My first gardening mistake was getting excited about potato harvest. I dug underneath plant to see if there was a potato. AND there was. It was the size of a ping pong ball and I got super excited and then I found another and another and then the plant was dead., all for a handful of tiny potatoes. Now I watch for the potato foliage to die down and only start to get excited when I see the little yellow and purple flowers appear.

2.    Not looking after the soil.

Everything that you garden comes from the soil. You have to make sure that it is up to the job of growing veggies. This means renewing it everytime you’ve grown something and that means adding manure or compost or both. Poor soil means undernourished plants and that means little or poor yields.

3.    Growing what you don’t like to eat.

One of the first questions I get asked is “What should I grow in my veggie patch”? The simple answer is what you and your family like to eat. I used to grow heaps of broadbeans, but I was the only person who liked to eat them. Grow what you and your family love to eat.

4.    Not mulching

If you don’t mulch, especially during summer and spring, you are wasting water. Mulch shades the base of the plants reducing water requirements, preventing evaporation and suppresses weeds that would otherwise take nutrients from your crop. Worms love the cool soil under mulch. Overtime, the mulch decomposes and adds nutrients to the soil. Just mulch.

5.    Not spending 5mins a day in the garden

Your garden has a lot to teach you. Listen your garden, no one else’s. The conditions and plants and weeds and sunlight are all going to be different. By spending time in your garden, you will notice what works and what doesn’t. This means you will become better at gardening and will spend more time there and will become better. Make a 5 minute walk in your garden a daily habit.

6.    Planting the wrong thing at the wrong time

Growing tomatoes when there is frost will kill your plant. Growing broccoli when it is hot will cause it to shoot straight to seed. Read the back of the seed packet for correct planting times.

7.    Don’t skimp on tools and take care of them

As with many things, quality is worth it. A good set of garden gloves will last two or more seasons. Well made tools will last a lifetime. Don’t buy the cheap stuff because you will be rebuying because of breakage inside a year and that’s just a waste. Ask your local nursery people what they use.