Thursday, August 24, 2023


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

Kitchen Gardens With Norina Jane From Whitpro

I have been asked frequently of late:  “Is it too late to plant from seed?”, Absolutely not!

May and June are the perfect months of the year in the Whitsundays to start planting your vegetables and herbs. So, get planting this month!

If you are just getting started in the vegetable growing world, then easy to grow options are:

Beans, Peas, Beetroot, Lettuce, Radish, cucumbers and tomatoes.

A few fun things to grow now, to get the children in the garden:

Sunflowers for a BIG and fun pop of colour that brings out the child in all of us.

For food that is easy for them to pick and eat straight from the garden try Snow Peas, Snap Peas and Cherry Tomatoes. My son’s son (I’m too young to be a grandmother!) at age 2, will pick every tomato and snow pea he can find, it’s great!

Important side note:

Support your beans and peas with a stake pushed into the ground by at least 15cm, with at least 1.5m above the ground.  Seeds should be placed about 5cm on the inside of your stakes/frames. When your plants reach the top of the stake, snip off the growing tip, this will prevent them growing higher.

Herbs in my garden:

This year I have planted more herbs than in previous years and it is already paying off on a multitude of levels. The colour and fragrance it brings to the garden is benefit enough but they have also influenced my cooking with great health benefits.  

It’s easy to pick herbs straight from the patch, it saves money (a bunch of fresh herbs are costly, and you often only use ½ before throwing the wilted remanence out) and to add to all of that, they attract beneficial insects and are great companion plants.  

Most herbs need full sun to thrive, so that’s at least six hours of sunlight every day.

While your herb plants are young, restrict pickings to a maximum of 1/3 of the plant and no more than ½ the growth of a mature plant.  

But pick away! Herb plants benefit from regular picking, it will encourage further leaf growth and will hold back early flowering which results in the end of plant growth in many herbs.

Try these herbs in your garden today:

PARSLEY – Easy to grow and a great all rounder

I find the flat leaf variety does really well.

Pick from the outside to prolong longevity

High source of Iron & Vit C

Great for salads, stuffings, soups, pasta sauces and as a garnish

ROSEMARY – A woody shrub that keeps on giving and smells amazing when you brush past it

Try dwarf rosemary for a hedge or weeping rosemary to cascade over a garden edge

Contains over 15 antioxidants

A favourite with lamb and good in potato dishes

BASIL – With over 30 different varieties, offering a variety of colours, flowers, fragrances and health benefits, try a few!

I love purple basil just for its colour and lemon basil for its fragrance. I rub a few leaves between my hands as I water, its part of my morning wake up ritual.

Great in pasta sauces, soups and salads, basil is the perfect companion for tomatoes not only on your plate but also in the ground for its ability to repel pests.


A source of magnesium and vitamin A, dill aids digestion

A great accompaniment with fish, in salads, yoghurt dishes and with cucumbers.

Beneficial insects love the umbrella shaped flowers of the dill plant and so do I

Companion planting in the vegetable garden:

Here are a few ideas on what benefits from being planted together:

Basil with Tomatoes

Chives with carrots, tomatoes, lettuce and celery

Parsley with carrots

Rosemary with carrots, cabbage, kale, broccoli and Brussel sprouts

Sage with carrots

Mint with brassicas

Nasturtiums with tomatoes, radish and squash

In most cases herbs make great companion plants but there are a few exceptions to the rule.

Don’t plant:

Chives with Peas

Dill with Carrots

Or Fennel with Tomatoes

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