Like peaches and cream, and a coach and a team
…..what have you got, a Perfect Match.
This blog is dedicated to my favourite summer partnership…Tomato and Basil.
Companion Plants or just good friends?
Companion planting usually means that 1 plant type supports better growth in the other, by providing insect deterrent, shade, or structure. Basil and Tomato are definitely companion plants, the aromatic basil leaves work as a deterrent to flying insects. I’ve heard people say that the basil also enahnces the flavour of the tomato, I can’t vouch for this but like to believe it is true!
I grow basil and tomato together more because they have similar needs than because of a production benefit. Also is is nice to smell the basil when you brush past it to pick a ripe tomato, it gets your mind thinking about yummy dishes you can make.
Luckily, Basil also grows best under 50% white shadecloth in summer, so planting amongst your tomatoes and putting a structure above them works really well.
If you want to grow Basil in a pot please make sure it is wide enough, the pots they come in from the garden centre are only OK for a little while. Make sure to replant straight away into a 40cm wide pot (assuming you have several plants or a punnet of seedlings) and always use a premium grade of potting mix.
Your Basil plants will start to fade in the colder weather, and those that hang on through late Autumn and Winter produce more bitter tasting leaves – it is better to just remove them and replant in Spring.
Pick leaves regularly for your cooking, and you will be rewarded with plants that branch out and grow more leaves for you! If you have neglected your plants for a while, just give them a light prune (and perhaps dry the stems so you have herbs for winter).
See the My Kitchen Garden Growing Guide for more information on Basil.
Hopefully you have more Basil leaves than you can use each day, in which case it is time to make pesto!
Basil tastes best fresh, only add it towards the end of cooking a dish – this also improves the appearance (fresh green leaves vs blackish strips!)
It will also look better in a salad when torn into strips rather than cut with a knife, once it gets bruised the edges go black.
Here are some recipes to try…
Tomato, Basil and Boccocini salad
I hope you are enjoying your summer harvest with loads of ripe red tomatoes and fragrant green basil