The easiest and most rewarding vegetable, well technically, fruit to grow is the tomato. The cherry tomato, the plum tomato, the heirloom varieties of tomatoes and the beefsteak tomato will provide enthusiastic gardeners with credible crops.
There are two ways of getting started with tomatoes, you can either sow your tomatoes from seed or you can buy tomato seedlings. For first timers we would suggest planting tomato seedlings. Six tomato plants from a seedling tray will give you a good yield throughout summer – enough to share with family and friends. Yields are also dependent on the variety and type of tomato.
Tomatoes will grow just as well in containers as they will grow in the ground. Tomato plants will benefit from support or training to maximise access to sunlight and this will also minimise insects and soil-borne diseases.
Successful growing tips for tomatoes:
- Tomatoes are not super fussy about what type of soil they are grown in. As with most garden vegetables, they do well in well-drained, fertile loam with a pH of 5.8 to 7.0. Mix several centimeters of organic compost or well rotted manure into the upper 15 centimeters of soil before planting. When planting add an organic fertiliser like Talborne’s Vita Veg 6:3:4 (16) to the planting mix.
- It is also recommended once the tomatoes have been planted to lay mulch around the tomato plants. You can use straw or wood chips. As the mulch decomposes, it adds nutrients to the soil that over time will benefit the tomato plants. Mulch also helps keep the tomato plants roots cool and enhances soil moisture retention.
- Ensure they get enough water but not drowned – water deeply and less often. During the height of summer water every 2 to 3 days. Tomatoes in containers will need water more often.
- As the tomato plants start growing begin training the plants up a support like a trellis, a cage, stakes or a fence. Begin training when the plants are about 30 centimetres high.
- Tomatoes are heavy feeders, once the tomatoes are producing flowers it is important to fertilise regularly to promote fruiting. Use an organic fertiliser like Vita Fruit & Flower 3:1:5 (18) or Bio Ocean from Atlantic Fertilisers.
Knowing that you have the basic tips of growing tomatoes, you can look forward to growing your own with confidence and at the same time enjoy the fruits of your labour.