Tomatoes galore! That’s what you’ll have when you follow these easy tips.
1. Plant seeds or seedlings in spring and summer. They need warm weather and will germinate best when the soil is warm.
2. To germinate seeds inside, fill a small pot with seed raising mix, put in the seed a few millimetres deep. Sprinkle with water. Wrap the pot in a plastic bag and put it in a warm spot inside such as on top of the refrigerator. Once the little plants have sprouted put them somewhere with more light straight away.
3. Treat them mean, keep them keen. It’s a horrible saying but it does work to get the best yield from tomatoes. Don’t give them any fertiliser or too much water until the first flowers form. If you cosset tomato plants with lots of water and fertiliser when they are young they will produce lots of leaves but less fruit. If you give them just enough water to survive and even let them become root bound in a small pot, they will think they are about to die and set flowers earlier. Once they begin to flower heap love, water and manure upon them.
4. Plant seedlings up to the first leaves. This will encourage roots to grow from the stem and give a better yield of fruit.
5. Plant them in a spot that receives full sun and leave about a metre between plants to allow lots of air to circulate around the plants.
6. Water deeply but not too often, once the plants begin to flower. About twice a week is good. You don’t want to let the ground dry out as this causes blossom end rot in the tomatoes.
7. Water around the roots and try to avoid overhead watering onto the leaves as it can encourage fungal diseases such as black spot.
8. Use mulch to keep the soil moist and an even amount of water supply to the plants.
9. Most tomato plants will need staking. Put the stakes in at the same time that you plant them so you don’t damage the roots.
10. Good companions for tomatoes include basil, asparagus, parsley, cabbage, cauliflower and sprouts.
11. Bad companions for tomatoes include apricot trees, fennel and kohlrabi.
12. Use a natural fertiliser on tomato plants once they start to flower such as well rotted horse manure, cow manure, compost or compost tea. Don’t use fresh chicken manure as it is too rich for the tomatoes.
13. Plant tomatoes in a different spot each season to avoid build-up of soil borne diseases.
14. Pick tomatoes when they are partly ripe – let them ripen fully inside, out of the sun, for the best flavour.
15. Plant different types of tomatoes for interest and colour – big red ones such as grosse lisse, roma tomatoes for sauces, little cherry tomatoes for salads. Try yellow ones, pink ones, orange ones and red ones. Have fun with your tomato garden!!