GROW A TOMATO RAIN­BOW

The Hastings Mail - - WHAT’S ON -

Where does one start when it comes to choos­ing toma­toes? There are so many to choose from (more than 20,000 va­ri­eties world­wide, and at least 15 dif­fer­ent types at your lo­cal gar­den cen­tre) that it can be over­whelm­ing. I like to grow a range of toma­toes of vary­ing colours and flavours, so I usu­ally buy a range of well-es­tab­lished plants at the gar­den cen­tre, or mix your toma­toes up a bit by grow­ing dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties, then swap­ping seedlings with friends. An ideal tomato for be­gin­ner gar­den­ers is ‘Sweet 100’. True to its name, it pro­duces hun­dreds of sweet-tast­ing toma­toes for months on end. If you want some drama on your plate, ‘Black Krim’ is a dark-skinned heir­loom tomato with lots of flavour, which orig­i­nates from the Black Sea area. An­other dressed-to-im­press heir­loom va­ri­ety which re­ally shows its stripes of orange-yel­low is the heir­loom va­ri­ety ‘Tigerella’. When it comes to yel­low toma­toes, ‘Sun­gold F1’, a sweet­tast­ing yel­low-orange cherry tomato, is an ideal lunch­box filler. Toma­toes need steady warmth to grow so re­mem­ber that the golden rule is not to plant your toma­toes out un­til Labour Week­end or un­til the last frost is well over. but­ter­fly cater­pil­lars what bam­boo is to pan­das so sow swan plant seeds now. Th­ese black and yel­low crawlers have mas­sive ap­petites so you’ll need quite a few plants if you want them to stick around long enough to meta­mor­phose. Raise seeds in seedrais­ing mix or sow di­rect out­side if frosts are over in your area. Swan plants like freedrain­ing soil and a shel­tered site, and will grow up to 2 me­tres. For find out more about monarch but­ter­flies, visit www.monarch.org.nz. Rachel Clare

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