Now’s the time for toma­toes

The Gazette (Derwent Valley) - - NEWS - With Richard Hole

SOME of the best gar­den­ing ad­vice I was given when I ar­rived in Tas­ma­nia was to plant toma­toes on Ho­bart Show Day.

Now while that might be a good tip for those liv­ing in Ho­bart or ar­eas where late frosts are rare, for those liv­ing in the Der­went Val­ley or Cen­tral High­lands it’s worth wait­ing a wee bit longer — as our re­cent cold snap has proven.

Toma­toes re­ally don’t like cold weather or in par­tic­u­lar cold soils.

Growth can be slow and plants can be likely to be af­fected by dis­ease when planted out too early and in cold spots. In the worst cases un­ex­pected frosts can kill a tomato plant com­pletely.

So it’s about this time of year that it’s rea­son­ably safe to plant your toma­toes in the Val­ley and High­lands.

Choose a sunny, welldrained po­si­tion that is pro­tected from strong winds.

I sug­gest ty­ing young plants loosely to a hard­wood stake to pro­vide sup­port as the plant grows larger.

Af­ter plant­ing, ap­ply a small amount of lime around the base of the plants as well as a good sprin­kle of sul­phate of po­tash.

The lime helps prevent dis­eases such as bot­tom end rot, which is caused by a lack of cal­cium in the soil.

The po­tash, which is potas­sium, will en­cour­age good flow­er­ing and fruit for­ma­tion.

Wa­ter all this in well and ap­ply a layer of pea straw or sugar cane mulch around the plant, keep­ing it well away from the stem.

While toma­toes do not re­quire ex­ces­sive amounts of wa­ter, it is im­por­tant not to let them dry out com­pletely.

Ir­reg­u­lar wa­ter­ing can lead to prob­lems such as skin split­ting on the fruit.

Basil is an ideal com­pan­ion plant to grow be­side toma­toes and can be planted at the same time.

Some of the best va­ri­eties of toma­toes worth try­ing are: APOLLO — a great salad tomato. MORT­GAGE LIFTER —a huge grow­ing va­ri­ety ideal for sand­wich slices. KY1 — an old Aus­tralian cul­ti­var that re­mains pop­u­lar.

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