WIN­NERS AND LOSERS

The Advertiser - - WEEKEND EXTRA - YOUR GUIDE -

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.

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