When I start to see the tomato seedlings appearing in the nurseries I start to think of summer and of course the flavour of delicious home grown tomatoes. Once the chance of frost has gone it is time to plant out tomato seedlings, ready for a summer harvest….Yummmmmmmmmmmmm!
- full sun, they need at least 5-6 hours of direct sun a day for the fruit to develop properly.
- good drainage, raised garden beds are ideal. But if you don’t have these then soil that is improved well with some compost will be fine. If planting in pots make sure it has plenty of drainage holes – sitting it up on pot feet can help.
- fertiliser, mix through A LITTLE (too much and you’ll have lots of lovely leafy growth!) blood and bone or an organic pelletised product like Seamungus BEFORE planting. And once you’ve planted your seedlings, give each a pinch of sulfate of potash – this encourages flowering and therefore fruiting (eg. MORE tomatoes!).
- staking & tying up, most tomatoes need staking (some small bush/dwarf varieties you can get away without staking too much).
- This is best done at the time of planting – choose a long wooden stake, that is around 2-3cm wide so it can hold the weight of the fully grown plant.
- Some tomatoes can grow up to 2 metres tall and hold several kilos of fruit! Regularly gently tie the top of the tomato plant to the stake as it grows.
- Old stockings make wonderful ties because they are gentle on the soft stems of the plant!
- For very vigorous plants you might need more than 1 stake. I find 3 per plant is often handy as you can tie up the large side shoots which supports the developing fruit.
- regular deep watering, and make sure you are watering the SOIL not the plant. You can get mildew outbreaks if the leaves are constantly damp. Regular watering also improves fruit formation & helps prevent “blossom end rot“.
- Consider WHERE you want to grow it. The compact, bush or patio varieties are best suited to growing in pots. Although the larger, vigourous varieties are suitable for pots (you’ll just need a larger pot and more space!).
- How many plants? 2-3 plants is HEAPS for 2 people, while a larger family will benefit from 6-10 plants.
- Play with colour – one of the BEST ways to make a summer salad is with colourful tomatoes. I ALWAYS make sure
I plant tomatoes in 3 colours, but at the very least you have got to include a yellow variety amongst all that red!
- When picking seedlings at the nursery, don’t shy away from those that are pot bound with roots coming out of the bottom of pot. These ones are literally bursting to get flowering and producing fruit.
- Amish Paste – vigorous grower, that producers large egg shaped fruit. BEST one for tomato sauce making. Also tasty eaten fresh.
- Green Zebra – fully ripe when green with a slight yellow hue WITH distinctive green stripes. Very, very productive and vigorous plant.
- Gross Lisse – one of the most popular home grown varieties. Produces “typical tomato” shaped, large fruit. Very vigorous plant – needs plenty of staking!
- Yellow Pear – a small bright yellow cherry tomato, with a pear shape. Hardy plant and big harvest. Really low acid fruit – a great one for kids to eat straight from the plant!
- Tomatoberry – produces bright red, heart shaped small fruit on long trusses.