WINNERS AND LOSERS
Having reviewed the successes and failures achieved through countless tomato seasons, it’s worth noting the following:
Success: Very often determined by the preparation carried out before planting and then how the plants are treated in the first few weeks after they are established.
Failure: Invariably linked to too much fertiliser at the beginning of the season and either over or under-watering.
Organic matter – Blending quality compost into the top 20cm of soil before planting will significantly improve its water-holding capacity and subsequently, the plant’s ability to cope with stress during hot weather.
Seaweed – Soaking the seedlings in a seaweed solution before planting and applying liquid seaweed (but not liquid fertiliser) on a fortnightly basis until the plants set fruit will improve plant health and again its ability to deal with stress.
Feeding – When establishing new seedlings, the main aim should be to achieve steady – but not rapid growth. So, go easy on the fertiliser.
Too much nutrient, particularly nitrogen, and your plants will grow vigorously but at the expense of fruit. Consider applying a quality, balanced fertiliser (such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potash) blended specifically for vegetables.
Use half a cup per planting site. This should be incorporated into the top 15cm of soil.
At the same time incorporate half a cup per plant of gypsum. Gypsum is a crushed rock containing calcium sulphate.
Adding calcium to the soil at this stage encourages early plant uptake of calcium, reducing the likelihood of your fruit suffering from “blossom end rot”.
Then, no more fertiliser until the plants start to flower.
When this occurs, add one third of a cup of sulphate of potash per plant, but no more nitrogen fertiliser until the
It’s only a matter of days now ...
talk to pet owners about what their pet eats, how much they are drinking and if there are any changes in their toileting.
Then I talk about essential health care such as vaccinations, heartworm and intestinal worms – and it’s great that the majority of pet owners understand the importance of these.
But when I ask about fleas I almost always get the same response: “I’ve never really seen a flea on Fluffy so I didn’t think I needed to treat her.”
Fleas are everywhere! We are really lucky in South Australia that we don’t have heavy numbers of plants are consistently setting fruit. Jon Lamb also writes a free weekly Good Gardening advice email newsletter, available at www, gardenandoutdoorliving.com or facebook.com/jonlamb good gardening.