Marianne CannonBasil and rocket

At one stage Greeks and Romans believed the most potent basil could only be grown if you sowed the seed while ranting and swearing. In French, semer le baslic (sowing basil) also means to rant.

Well I hope you don’t have to swear and rant to get your basil seeds to germinate, just have your pencils at the ready if you want to know how to grow, use and store Basil in this next segment with Ian Hemphill from




Rocket – Eruca sativa

Rocket or arugula and, scientifically, Eruca sativa, belongs to the Brassicaceae family along with broccoli, mustard greens, kale and cauliflower. The spicy leaves can be grown all year round but are best in cool weather. I’ve found that certain plants like arugula or rocket and coriander just bolt to seed in summer and it’s pointless getting the varieties that are supposedly slow bolting, because they always bolt in temperate zones anyway. Long days and warm temperatures initiate flowering in this plant, so you can’t fight nature.

In temperate and arid districts, you can sow arugula seeds from August until November; in cool temperate areas wait until September unless you have a greenhouse or even a mini-greenhouse, but sub-tropical districts can sow arugula or rocket seeds from March right through til November. Lucky them. For those of you that have a soil thermometer and actually use it, the soil temperatures for germination should be between  4°C and 14°C.

Arugula is best grown from seed, and sow batches a couple of weeks apart to have a continuous crop. Be brave let one or two plants go to seed so you have fresh seed for next season. Sow the seeds very shallowly and keep the soil moist until seedlings emerge. The plant grows to about 40cm high so thin out the seedlings so they’re 20cm apart.

During the cooler months grow rocket in full sun. In warmer districts, rocket will tolerate partial shade. Rocket also copes with light frost. Rocket or arugula is one of those plants that’s easy to grow, so it would suit your kids or grand kids if you’re trying to get them into gardening. I’ve been growing the wild rocket in my garden and it seems to be hanging in quite well through all the rain and cold that temperate zones have experienced this winter. Wild rocket has more narrow leaves and the flavour is quite mild. Buy online from Diggers Seeds or Green Harvest

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Marianne Cannon

About Marianne Cannon

Marianne Cannon has been broadcasting as Real World Gardener on radio 2RRR 88.5fm in Sydney, since September 2009, and the program is now syndicated to radio stations around Australia. It's about growing your own, the abc of plants, and how to create sustainable gardens to fit into today's environment. Not just a show about plants; it has a strong green and ecological bent, with co-presenters addressing issues such as native animals and plants, water conservation, composting, reducing waste, protecting native species and more.

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