Follow these tips to ensure your tomatoes thrive this summer.
1. Prepare the soil with crushed egg shells and coffee grinds.
2. Choose your tomato variety (determinate or indeterminate) and stake accordingly.
3. Plant your tomato plants on an angle, burying not only the roots but the lowest two leaves as well. Tomatoes will turn and grow straight but benefit from the extra support. They also sprout extra roots from the stem helping them access more nutrients and water.
4. Add some companion plants.
5. Water regularly with Epsom salts and banana skin water.
The correct way to plant tomatoes - it's not what you think!
Tomatoes grow well in pots however there are a few things that need to be remembered in order to ensure they are successful.
Not all varieties suit pots. The best ones are determinate varieties like tiny tom, KY1, Patio Size, Green Grape, Patio Roma, Principle Borghese, Florida Basket and Legend (thanks to Gardening Australia for these suggestions!).
Choose a pot that is about 50cm wide and is self watering. Tomatoes need a lot of water and this will help keep the water from draining away. Add compost to potting mix or even better, use Diana's Dirt.
Don't forget to add your plant support before you plant your tomato so you do not damage the roots.
Add a dripper water system if possible to keep them moist or water daily. Choose a full sun position.
How to propagate tomatoes from one plant and "tomato suckers" explained
Air circulation is essential
One issue with growing a large amount of crops in a small space is ensuring there is adequate air circulation. Poor air circulation promotes disease and pests. This is one of the reasons that spacing plants "appropriately" is necessary. But if you prune and support your plants as I do, you can push the limits.
It's quite simple to improve air circulation. Just remove all lower leaves and branches that are not fruiting and provide plant support that enables you to grow plants vertically.
How and why to prune tomatoes
I do the later because I read an interesting article a few years ago by The Diggers Club who did a test of the two methods and found fruit production was pretty similar. I'm time poor and so with this result in mind I opted not to intensively prune and focus my time on other things.
CALCIUM - Sprinkle a half a cup of milk powder on the soil at the base of every plant.
PHOSPHOROUS - worm tea or vermicastings, bone meal, fish fertiliser or gelatine.
How to identify magnesium deficiency
Fruit splitting is caused when there has been a dry spell followed by heavy rain. This causes the fruit to grow and swell faster than the skin can grow.
It's not your fault. Just nature. Cook the tomatoes and you'll never know.
Fortunately this fungal disease if managed has little impact on fruiting plants. Nevertheless it's best to try to eradicate it as spores survive even the cold cool climate winters and will plague you next year.
The fungus spreads on spores attached to gardening equipment and pots etc. The best way to prevent is to buy resistant varieties. Disinfect all gardening tools.
Treat with an organic fungicide based on bacillus subtilis or copper.
Powdery mildew fungus
Did you know that watering the leaves can promote the growth of powdery mildew fungus? In hot weather, it can also cause the leaves the burn.
Just water the roots instead.