Nothing tastes better than fresh, vine-ripened, juicy tomatoes. They are easy to grow and there are many varieties now available.
Here are some tips to help you grow a bumper crop.
• Plant them in an open, sunny spot. They need about six hours of sun a day.
• Prepare the soil before planting. Roughly dig the area to around 60cm deep and incorporate additional compost to open up the soil. Do not overcrowd as they like a lot of room for their roots to run for stability and access to water and nutrients in stressful periods.
• Do not incorporate excessive amounts of animal manure as high nitrogen levels will encourage leaf growth rather than flower formation.
• Make sure the soil is well-drained. Tomatoes like a soil pH between 6 and 8. If your soil is too acidic, add lime or dolomite. Sprinkle a handful or two per square metre onto the soil before planting. Lime will also help prevent blossom end rot developing.
• Apply an organic mulch to suppress weeds and also to conserve moisture.
• Practise crop rotation. This means avoiding planting tomatoes in the same bed for at least two years (this will reduce disease build-up).
Tomatoes are warm-season, frost-susceptible plants. In cooler areas plant out seedlings after the risk of frost has passed, from September to November.
Varieties to plant - NEW Tomatoberry has sweet, strawberry-shaped fruit on beautiful, long cascading trusses. Use in salads, sauces and lunch box treats. Tomato Truss Plum is vigorous, really tasty and holds well on the vine with fantastic looking trusses of deep red, shiny fruit.
Planting tip: Tomato plants can root along the stem, so seedlings can be planted deeper than normal to encourage a larger root ball and a stable start.
For old fashioned flavour and sheer spectacle, you can’t go past heirloom varieties. With their wild colours, textures and tastes, they look as good in the garden as they do on the plate They tend to crop over longer periods than hybrids so you get a steady supply of fruit, you can collect the seed to grow next season; Good varieties to try are Green Zebra, Tommy Toe, Tigerella.
Although tomato seeds can be planted direct into the garden, you can have a lot of success sowing into pots or trays of Seed Raising Mix and transplanting when the plants are a few centimetres tall. If you're really keen you can start your tomatoes indoors so they’re ready for planting out when the soil is warmer.
www.oasisaustralia.com - (Tomatoes)
www.diggers.com.au - (Heirloom Seeds and Catalogue)
Lilies on Brougham, Eltham Victoria