The Bulletin

6 Tips for Great Tomatoes this Season

Tomato season is here! To celebrate, we have packed some tomato-growing secrets into six essential tips so you can produce a bumper crop this season.

1. Select a variety right for your garden

One of the most important things you can do when growing tomatoes is to choose the right type for your space.

There are basically two types: bush tomatoes and staking tomatoes. Bush varieties grow to a fixed height with lots of foliage. Staking tomatoes grow like vines and need support as they climb.

You should always plant at least one staking cherry tomato plant. They are typically less prone to pests and diseases and will give you a good crop over a long period of time.

If you are planning on planting some staking cherry tomatoes, look out for “Tommy Toes”, a large cherry heirloom variety. These give consistent results.

2. Prep your soil (or grow in pots!)

Success with tomatoes has a lot to do with quality soil. Tomato plants like a slightly acidic soil (pH 6 to 7), so test levels in your own garden beds using a pH kit from the local nursery and correct accordingly. Working in compost will help regulate pH levels and improve soil quality.

If you have a small garden or balcony space, you can grow your tomatoes in pots. For this you simply need a good quality organic potting mix and a container large enough for the job.

3. Feed your tomatoes wisely

Typically, tomatoes are heavy feeders, requiring a lot of nutrients. But balance is everything when it comes to fertilisers.

Avoid overfeeding young tomato plants with nitrogen-rich fertiliser. This will result in lots of foliage and little fruit. Instead add some potash (or potassium-rich fertiliser) and seaweed solution on a fortnightly basis.

You will notice the results in the yield and taste of your crop.

4. Plant seedlings

When it comes to tomatoes, I find it easier to buy and plant established seedlings from the nursery rather than propagating from seed. Seedlings are more convenient if you have a small space, as you will only need a couple of plants.

5. Dig deep

When planting, you should plant them deeper into the soil than they were in the pot or seedling tray. The plant is encouraged to put out more roots along the stem, making for a sturdier plant.

6. Prune regularly as they grow

The reason for pruning is to keep the plant in shape, increase airflow around the plant and potentially produce bigger fruit.

To prune, simply pinch off new growth that occurs at the node (the point from which branches or leaves grow off the main stem).

I do this all the way up until the first flower spike. The plant will respond by putting more energy into growing fruit rather than the production of foliage.

Remember, always plant tomatoes in a full sun position and water evenly and regularly.

With these tricks up your sleeve, you will be enjoying the flavour of homegrown tomatoes throughout the season.


source: REA

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