It’s all in the Timing

Great cooks make it look easy.  They pull together a variety of dishes and manage to have everything on the table at the same time.  It’s all in the timing.

For three years now, I’ve tried to plant the tomatoes and basil so that they’re ready to go at the same time as well.  I love caprese salad, and the novelty of growing two of the three main ingredients is fun.

Here’s one of our salads from last summer.

Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad

In prior years, the basil took off, and the tomatoes took a long time to catch up.  This year all the tomatoes self seeded in late winter, sending me scrambling for basil.  I purchased a small plant from the nursery, and planted it near the volunteer potato.  It was about the same size as the tomatoes when it went into the ground, so I patted myself on the back and figured a job well done.


potato plant

Scene of the crime

Something devoured my plant!  I’m not naming names or anything, but their initials are ‘S’ and ‘S’.  Those slippery, slimy garden pests noshed my lovely plant down to the nubs.  Boo!

Now here we are three weeks into spring, the tomatoes are taking off and the basil is…well…gone.

basil plant eaten by snails

Once upon a time I was a Basil plant

I was chatting with my friend Kirra today and she mentioned planting her basil by mistake too close to the tomatoes.  Then it hit me.  Last year I planted the basil and the tomato side by side without any problems.  Since tomato leaves are poisonous, I wonder if the proximity kept the S’s away?  It’s worth a try.

Just before hitting the publish key, I searched the term ‘tomato companion planting’ and you’ll never guess what came up: basil!  Last summer was a happy accident.  So I’ll be headed to the nursery for another small plant, and now I know exactly where it should go.

tomato plants

Hearty Tomatoes

Do you have a favorite summer salad?

28 thoughts on “It’s all in the Timing

  1. Brilliant!! I have those ‘s&s’ things too in my tiny patch – and I have just remembered what I wanted to buy from Bunnings two weeks ago – copper tape!! They slithered past my salad leaves into the middle of the tub and stripped the perennial spinach bare!! Absolute ingrates!! Must plant lots of tomatoes next spring 🙂

    I love all kinds of salads – haven’t met a salad I didn’t love in fact. Like you I love a Caprese and am particularly fond of a good Caesar Salad too, minus the egg. I love the dressing 🙂


    • Oh no! Those little so and so’s can”tbe trusted around anything green.

      One night I tried an experiment with some wilted lettuce, a few days passed the salad days. I knew the s & s’s were napping under the strawberry plants, so I gathered them up and placed them on the wilted greens. They devoured it in no time. I keep meaning to hand pick them and relocate to a trail but can’t seem to get motivated. The copper tape works well in small pots, but what to do on those larger garden beds?

      How wonderful that you like so many salads. I like quite a few of them, too. One of my favorites is made with spinach, slivered almonds and mandarin oranges with a raspberry vinaigrette dressing. Our more common ‘daily’ salad is red leaf lettuce, small tomatoes, avocado and red onion with balsamic dressing. Mike makes a terrific dressing for that one.


      • I had been growing them on and off because I had mixed results with them. We had an amazing crop come out of our plot at the community garden last summer, so I have planted them there again. I might try some again in my own backyard since I am moving the garden to a sunnier place. My family devours them….


        • I’m impressed that you find time to maintain two gardens. Wow! I’ve experimented a lot with moving plants around (or planting in different spots in alternate years). It’s supposed to help prevent overwintering bugs or depleted soil. I amend a lot each year in my small plot, and have been using homemade compost as well.

          Best of luck this season.


  2. I love basil too, not just with tomatoes, and always sow my own seeds in late April or May. I can usually harvest the first decent sized leaves about 2 or 3 weeks later! An interesting thought… what can I plant next to my parsley to stop the snails munching on it… Will have to search for that in the internet later today!


    • My sister has the same problem. She even switched toothpastes, because one of the ingredients also causes mouth sores. That’s too bad, though.

      I hope your FIL can benefit from this tip. I was delighted to learn this trick.


  3. Only got basil on my windowsill at the moment – tomatoes to be sown later in the month. Good to know they are good companion plants. I just hope I don’t get botrytis again this year as homegrown tomatoes have to be my fav 🙂


  4. Good luck! I can’t imagine a summer without basil!!
    In fact, I had my first caprese this week (I think I’ve mentioned that I take this combo of lusciousness to work almost every day, all summer long).
    A friend gave me a basil plant at Christmas (I have no idea where she found one in the winter) and I have carefully tended it in a pot by the window. It has been slow growing, but I had enough to snip a few leaves and … happy sigh!


    • Yum! What a great way to lunch, Laurie.

      I’ll bet your plant is just resting and waiting for spring to begin in earnest. I’m always amazed at plants that seem to limp along, then seemingly double in size over night.


  5. Love the caprese salad as well as the little horderves with grape tomatoes,cheese and basil on a toothpick. Always a favorite at a potluck. Love salads anyway. I used to tease that the word salad meant anything goes. People put pasta, meats, even fruits in salad. They are just so much fun. I’m still trying to catch up. Bit off more than I can chew and still haven’t caught my breath. Getting old isn’t for sissy’s.


    • Oh, those toothpick hor’deurve’s (I never could spell that) sound great. I’ve actually never tried that. Thanks for the idea.

      I’m sorry to hear you’re a bit overwhelmed. I hope you find your equilibrium again soon. Getting old is not for sissy’s. Hear-hear!


  6. LOL, scene of the crime, that’s so funny. Those molluscs don’t know who they’re messing with. I didn’t know tomato leaves were poisonous. Is that just to snails? I would guess they’re not to us or kitties? Now all you have to do is figure out how to make your own Bocconcini 😀
    I just love this salad, I could each it every day. Man, look how big your tomatoes are already! I was talking to my friend Debbie L who’s cousins, husband (following this, ha) is a really handy carpenter. She thinks he can make one of those pyramid planters. I’ll have to see if I have the right spot for it at the new house. That would be just awesome, we could have Skype/Caprese night…LOL. Happy gardening sweetie xo


    • What a great idea: Skype/Caprese night. You are always thinking of these clever ideas.

      How exciting to know someone that can build you one of those planters. Oh what fun that will be. I hope you have the perfect spot.

      So this is interesting: it’s only one article, but she debunks the “tomato leaves are poison” saying that they have some toxicity, but not enough to change the weight of your liver. Then she goes on to say they are never used in recipes. They are a member of the nightshade family (highly toxic), so who knows. I won’t be nibbling on one any time soon.


      • Really interesting Alys. Thank you for the link. She’s a pretty adventurous cook. I admit, I toss the carrot tops too because I never knew they could be added to any meals. Unless you’re buying organic or farmer market greens I would probably still steer away from that adventure. Commercial produce is probably full of non-organic pest spray. Good to know though.


        • They keep insisting that fruits and veggies are fine as long as you ‘wash them well’ but honestly, the idea of pesticide residue is disturbing to me.

          Now that we’re composting, I toss all those things into the composter and worm bin. It’s amazing seeing it all eventually turn into rick, black compost.


          • We were at the new house tonight and the door bell rang. Sharon went to the door and a I could hear a little girl say, “Hi, we’re selling compost for our school”…….isn’t that wild? It used to be chocolates and magazines or even raffle tickets. I thought that was kind of ‘out of the box’ (as they say).

            Are you able to use all your black gold?


            • Wow! I’ve never heard anything like that. I’m fascinated and intrigued.

              I have used the compost in a few different ways. Last year and the year before, I made compost in the empty planter box. Then I just added some soil to the top and planted directly into the mix. It worked well. My barrel compost is ready to go but I hit a snag: three tomato plants are growing out of the bottom of it and I don’t have the heart to pull them out. We’ll see where it goes.



  7. Pingback: Basil: Round Two | Gardening Nirvana

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