Growing tomatoes is much simpler if you have a glasshouses or greenhouse that allows nature to give them a better growth pattern.
Clive and Delia Wilson have been growing tomatoes for many years. They also supply other gardeners with seedlings from their shop (Delia’s Little Plant Shop) in Hamilton.
Her tomato growing advice applies in most areas of Victoria, Tasmania and NZ.
- Choose a spot in your garden where the plants will get the longest time of full sun.
- Tomatoes like well-drained soil that is rich in compost, supplemented with fertiliser. We also add generous applications of sheep pellets during the growing season.
- Add mulch around the roots of the plants. Pea straw, untreated timber shavings and sawdust all work well. See your local wood turner for some waste off his or her lathe. We also have a range of growing medium including our perlite/vermiculite mix.
- When transplanting, fill a hole in the soil with water and place the tomato plant in so the ground is level with the first leaves.
- As the plant grows, it will need to be secured to a stake with a soft, gently applied tie material.
- Tomatoes love water, so make sure they get plenty of it. Watering first thing in the morning before the sun gets too hot is best for all growing vegetables.
- Pinching out Laterals
This is an important step in the growing process if you want the best quality and quantity of fruit from your plants (one exception is the Sweet 100 variety, which you can let ramble). The lateral is the small stem that emerges where the leaves grow out from the main stalk (see picture in the gallery above). If you leave it to grow it will thicken and become a secondary stalk and produce smaller trusses of smaller fruit. If this is repeated, you will end up with a maze of stems, stalks, leaves, and poor quality tomatoes. When the plant has produced between five and seven trusses, cut off the growing tip and allow the plant to put all its energy into maturing the fruit.
It’s up to you how to handle the ongoing problem of diseases. Garden centres can provide copper-based sprays that are very effective, or you could try an organic solution. Growing marigolds next to your tomatoes can be effective because they give off gases and odours. These can control some of the pests and diseases while adding colour to your vegetable garden.
Share your tomato-growing tips in the comments below!