The Mediterraneans knew what they were on about when they packed their meals full of tomatoes. Rich in vitamins and anti-oxidants, these little globes of sunshine on a vine grace salads, pasta, pizza, burgers, antipasto platters. Or you can eat cherry tomatoes straight from the vine.
Most commercially grown tomatoes are picked green so don’t ripen on the vine. Home-grown tomatoes get a turbo-boost of vine-ripened sunshine, water and plant nutrients so they taste amazing.
Growing tomatoes at home is easy and the varieties are plentiful, from big beefsteak to little cherry.
Understanding grafted tomatoes
Using a grafted tomato plant is a good option as it gives the benefits of two plants in one. The bottom part of the plant will be chosen for its strong root growth and disease resistance. Then the top part of the plant, which is grafted or joined on, is chosen for its fruit type. That’s why grafted tomatoes can produce a huge amount of fruit compared to a seedling tomato.
Although tomatoes grow quickly and vigorously, you don’t need any heavy-duty pruning equipment.
Keeping tomatoes healthy
Preventative spray of copper should be done every 2 weeks or more often in humid conditions and should also be done after a period of persistent rain.
The plant has a straight central ‘trunk’ with branches coming off that. Remove these branches, called laterals, simply by pinching them off with your fingers.
This will allow the trusses of fruit to develop better (and bigger!) and allows for better airflow. You could leave some of these laterals (Max 4-5) if the Tomato has lots of room to grow into, you should tie these branches to separate stakes to maintain good airflow. Note that the more laterals you leave the more fertiliser these Tomatoes will need.
To keep the plant healthy, use a preventative copper spray, like BioGro certified organic Grosafe Free Flow Copper to guard against blight and black spot – that’s where the leaves look like they have a downy mildew on them or black blotches appear. As fungal diseases, black spot cannot be cured, so preventative spraying with Grosafe Free Flow Copper is a must. This should be done every 2 weeks, or more often in humid conditions, and should also be done after a period of persistent rain.
Watering and feeding
With tomatoes being a summer crop, you need to water regularly especially if you are growing them in a pot. Don’t let them dry out especially when fruit is starting to increase in size. Good water supply will ensure a juicy fruit with plenty of flavour. It is best to water in the pots and keep the foliage dry to help prevent the fungal diseases
Tomatoes are also very hungry plants. They’re what we call gross feeders. So every couple of weeks, mix some Yates Thrive Natural Seaweed Tonic into a watering can and feed the plant.
Tomatoes do well with being planted near other plants, called companion planting. For example, planting tomatoes and basil close to each other helps to repel white fly and aphids, and intensifies the flavour of your tomatoes.
Other good options are chives, garlic and marigolds.