It‘s tomato season
SPRING is tomato planting time. Tomatoes are the most popular grown plant in Australian veggie gardens and come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, colours and textures.
Store bought tomatoes are bred for longevity and transport, but not flavour and lack the taste of freshly picked home grown tomatoes.
Growing tomatoes successfully depends on position, soil preparation, regular watering and feeding.
Tall growing varieties can reach over two metres and require support from stakes or wire frames.
Bush types are much smaller growing which don’t require support, making them suitable for tubs and pots.
The trailing varieties can also be grown in hanging baskets or vertical gardens.
Grow in a position that receives at least six hours of full sun each day and is protected from strong winds.
Don’t plant tomatoes in the same spot as last year as diseases can survive in the soil and infect this year’s crop.
Protect from late season frosts by covering with frost cloth until the chance of frosts has passed.
Tomatoes grow best in well-drained soil enriched with organic matter.
Prepare the planting hole by digging in compost, potash, blood and bone and a fertiliser specific for tomatoes.
Avoid using too much animal manure as this encourages leaf growth rather than flowers and fruit.
If planting in a pot, use a 50/50 blend of premium potting mix and compost.
Plant the tomatoes deep in the soil to promote strong root growth.
If planting grafted tomatoes, ensure the graft is above the soil level.
Space them a metre apart and hammer in support stakes, avoiding the root ball.
Water the plants in well and top with mulch to conserve water, suppress weeds and keep the roots cool in summer.
Keep the soil moist by watering regularly but avoid wetting the leaves as this will encourage fungal problems.
When the tomatoes start to flower feed with a liquid fertiliser high in potassium once a week to promote fruit development and increase yields.