Tips

Tomato and basil

Mixed Basil

Although they were first developed for human consumption in vastly different parts of the globe – basil in India and tomatoes in the Americas – basil and tomatoes have become inextricably linked together. Fragrant, oil-rich basil leaves combine with sweetly acidic tomato fruit to create a much-loved blend of flavours.

And both plants share another characteristic: they love the warm weather, which is why this is such a good time of year to start them off. In cooler climates they’re usually grown as summer annuals and replanted each spring. Where it’s warmer they’ll last longer (although tropical downpours can often spoil the Plants).

Yates seed range has a good selection of both basil and tomato varieties.

Basil

Sweet Basil is the true favourite. It can grow up to a metre tall and produces an abundance of fragrant leaves for months. Seeds germinate best in warm soil with daytime temperatures of about 20 degrees. In cooler areas you can get a head start by sowing seed indoors, then planting out when conditions are warmer. Begin picking as soon as there are plenty of leaves, and pinch out any incipient flowering shoots.

Basil Gourmet Mix (pictured) is a lucky dip selection of basil varieties, including Thai Basil, Lemon Basil, Cinnamon Basil and Purple Basil. With this packet you can grow a mixed bed of basils that can be harvested to suit different food styles.

Purple Basil is a deeply-coloured form of sweet basil. It can be used in the kitchen but is equally popular as a garden ornamental where its richly-coloured leaves contrast with softer shades. This form of basil is especially susceptible to disease, so grow it in an open sunny position.

Basil just loves nitrogen, so keep it moving along with regular applications of nitrogen-rich Thrive Soluble or Aquasol. For maximum flavour pick basil leaves in the morning after the dew dries, but before the day hots up.

Tomatoes

There are so many tomato varieties it’s easy to get confused, but the following in the Yates seed range are some of the most popular. Yates Small Fry has cherry-sized tomatoes on a rather sprawly bush. Tiny Tim fruit are of similar size but grow on a compact bush that’s suitable for pots. Grosse Lisse and Apollo are
favourite salad types, while Burke’s Backyard Italian Tomato and Heirloom Favourites are for lovers of traditional tomato flavour. Summerstar is the best choice for the subtropics, and Roma is the cook’s selection.

Sow tomato seeds into warm soil or a protected pot. Feed with Thrive Flower & Fruit and protect from pests and diseases with Yates Tomato Dust.

Though they’re reputed to be good companion plants, basil and tomato shouldn’t be grown too closely together. They both need breathing space and room to spread. But in the kitchen they’ll happily mix. Bruschetta is the best-known example of this flavour-filled marriage.


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