What's not to love about tomatoes, the red, delicious juicy flavours, that go with just about any meal. Although not the easiest plants to grow, tomatoes are still a firm favourite for the family garden, so if you're a serious tomato eater, or want to always use the expensive variety, why not grow some of your own.
Choose the right plant
Believe it or not there is a large variety of tomato plants available and some can be quite prone to problems and pests, do your research and make sure that you are choosing the right tomato plant for your location and environment, no point going against nature. You can also sow your own seeds which allows you greater variety of tomatoes and it’s very economical. With so many options, it best to trial a few to see what works in your garden space and its microclimate.
Use the right environment
Tomatoes need around 6 hours of direct sunlight 'time to photosynthesize' so make sure you are planting it in an area where it will get the correct amount of sunlight for growth. If you are planting the tomato's in a garden, make sure they have a good amount of space between each plant grow and allow for supports as tomatoes have a naturally trailing habit. Tomato plants can grow to be quite big, so this is important to keep in mind when allocating space. You can also choose a bushy variety which can be grown in a container and does not require staking. Great option for the balcony gardener.
Feed them well
Like any living thing, tomato's will require feeding frequently to ensure you get the best growth and fruit from your plant. Tomato plants grow best when planted in already fertilised soil - dig in plenty of well-rotted manure before planting. Make sure you feed your tomato bush every month until they are ready to pick with a balanced organic fertiliser. Watering your tomato plants is also important as they need a good weekly watering in which you can add a seaweed solution to help with fruiting. In the first few days of establishment and on hotter summer days you are allowed to water them generously, so please do. Just keep an eye out that you’re not over watering as this can lead to root rot diseases which is detrimental to these plants.
Check for Pests
Tomatoes are prone to diseases and pests so make sure you check your plants regularly for this. Fruit fly and wet humid weather makes growing tomatoes a little difficult.Keeping your garden bed/pot well weeded, with plenty of organic matter will make sure you plant is thriving, if you do see signs of any bugs you can hand pick them off your plants, this will help reduce more bugs from forming and moving in on your plant. Using an organic spray/insect soap can also help you eliminate those critters. Keeping an eye on your plants regularly and doing this on your watering days will also help you keep on top changes to your plant.
Let the tomatoes grow on the vine for as long as you can before harvesting them. The perfectly ripe tomato will be bright red, hard and juicy. It's really important to not put your freshly grown tomatoes in the fridge as it takes away the rich flavour. Tomatoes need warmth, not light, to ripen, so there's no need to put them on a sunny windowsill either. Your best to pick them as they ripen and use them accordingly and if you have too much to even know what to do with making homemade tomato sauce is always a great option.
So make the most of the current season and get those tomatoes growing.