It’s a great time to get plant­ing



I go through phases with rocket. Some­times I love it, some­times I loathe it, but it’s man­aged to worm its way back into my gar­den this spring and I’m en­joy­ing its pep­pery taste in my sal­ads once more.

Rocket – like let­tuce – grows quickly and can be picked as a cut-and-come-again salad green within a month of plant­ing. When sown from seed, ger­mi­na­tion takes 7-10 days and reach ma­tu­rity from 40-55 days.

To grow rocket from seed, choose a spot in your gar­den that has par­tial shade – it can bolt to seed early in hot sum­mer con­di­tions – and sow

in rows or scat­ter over the grow­ing area. Lightly cover with soil and wa­ter gen­tly and reg­u­larly un­til seeds ger­mi­nate. Thin the seedlings to 3-5cm apart (eat the thin­nings) and har­vest leaves as re­quired. Rocket seed is widely avail­able from gar­den cen­tres and on­line seed stores in­clud­ing Ital­ian Seeds Pronto and Kings Seeds.


Just like hu­mans, plants don’t al­ways get along. While some make ex­cel­lent part­ner­ships, oth­ers can hin­der growth and po­ten­tially com­pro­mise the qual­ity of the re­sult­ing har­vest.

Com­pan­ion plant­ing means choos­ing plants and flow­ers that com­ple­ment each other, act as a de­ter­rent for pests or dis­eases, en­hance the soil and/or don’t oc­cupy the same grow­ing space as their neighbours.

For ex­am­ple, pota­toes, car­rots and parsnips are all root crops, so it makes sense not to grow th­ese to­gether which will only force them to com­pete for room.

Flow­ers like marigolds, are ben­e­fi­cial to many other plants be­cause they can help to keep in­sect pests at bay. The French marigold (Tagetes pat­ula) as well as Mex­i­can marigold (Tagetes lem­monii) ex­ude com­pounds from their roots which help to con­trol ne­ma­todes (it hin­ders their abil­ity to re­pro­duce). This makes them fan­tas­tic com­pan­ion plants for pota­toes. Flow­ers like Cleome spinosa and sun­flow­ers are great at at­tract­ing pests – like green vege bugs – away from wanted crops such as beans, toma­toes and sweet­corn. Nas­tur­tiums are said to re­pel aphids and I heard a tip that re­cently that said if you want to keep slugs off your hostas, plant let­tuce and Chi­nese cab­bages nearby to lure them away.

Here are some good part­ner­ships as well as pair­ings best avoided:

Beans like pota­toes, sage, let­tuce, car­rots and cab­bages but aren’t mates with any­thing from the al­lium fam­ily. Some peo­ple grow runner beans up the stalks of corn – this is a form of com­pan­ion plant­ing too as the corn stalk pro­vides the sup­port for the climb­ing bean.

Toma­toes thrive when planted with basil, car­rots, mint, bras­si­cas, chives, pars­ley and onions. Avoid plant­ing beet­root, fen­nel, pota­toes and rasp­ber­ries nearby.

Pota­toes are happy with bras­si­cas, sweet­corn, peas and parsnips but keep away from cel­ery, pump­kins, toma­toes and cu­cum­bers. Toma­toes and pota­toes are re­lated so the risk

of dis­ease-trans­fer­rence is in­creased the closer they are to­gether.

Pump­kins like to be planted near sweet­corn, but not pota­toes.

Gar­lic en­joys the com­pany of parsnips but not peas or beans.

Plant sil­ver­beet with beet­root, onions and mar­jo­ram.

Peas are happy with ev­ery­one bar the al­lium fam­ily.

Car­rots like co­rian­der, leeks, onions, cu­cum­bers and toma­toes, but keep them well sep­a­rate from pota­toes and parsnips.

Beet­root do well along­side peas, onions and sil­ver­beet. Avoid plant­ing them with toma­toes.

Radishes en­joy the com­pany of sweet­corn, car­rots, let­tuce and peas.


This time of year, as your crops are start­ing to get prop­erly un­der­way, the birds are keep­ing close watch on pro­ceed­ings and you can bet they’re keep­ing their eyes peeled for any breaches in your de­fences. That’s what hap­pened this week when I left my net­ting-cov­ered raised bed with an un­se­cured edge fol­low­ing an early-morn­ing har­vest for

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