Tomatoes: all you need to know
Don't let blight, bugs and blossom end rot put you off tomatoes. Lynda HAllinan shares helpful hints for bigger, better crops.
Tips, trick and advice from the experts
I’d be lying if I said I was on friendly terms with homegrown tomatoes. The last time I grew a cracker crop was 2013, the same year I developed a severe allergy to even the gentlest encounter with their hairy foliage. I’m a strictly gloves-on gardener now.
But rashes and blisters aren’t the only reason for my fraught affair with tomatoes. Blight is another perennial bugbear and the wet start to spring can’t help. In the past 12 months we’ve had 2240mm of rain in Hunua, a metre more than the 22-year average.
Every year my tomatoes succumb to blight but that only makes me more determined to find a practical solution. Rather than turning to sprays, I’m trying a new tack and only planting early-ripening bush or determinate varieties. I’m dead keen to see how the apparently crack-resistant cherry variety ‘Gardener’s Delight’ (King Seeds) goes as it was one of the star performers from the Auckland Botanic Gardens’ tomato trial last year (see over the page for the results).
As a rule, if your climate thwarts your tomato crop – if it’s too cold in spring or summers are short – seek out varieties with “early” in their name. Try ‘Baxter’s Early Bush’, ‘Early Doll’, ‘Early Girl’ (or improved ‘New Girl’).
Every microclimate has its quirks. “When you grow on the margins,” says Catlins gardener Wendy De Boer, “the biggest problem is getting the calves out of my polytunnel so the tomatoes can move in!”
Wt Doseeooeenukd' t en lintsnr ed agt.nstTlsu eh pd ne la tuiwnlnt eL ta ti aoltbh mt oh ea ur et r no is.
Rotting fruit and stem damage caused by early blight infection.
Who can resist unusual varieties such as ‘Indigo Rose‘ (Kings Seeds)?