Growing tomatoes in your garden can be an uphill battle, but we have your how-to guide to growing cherry tomatoes with ease, when to water and feed tomatoes, and types of tomatoes for your climate.
A notoriously high maintenance vegetable (or should we say fruit) to grow, tomatoes become almost like your child; you’ll nurture it, watch it grow, and tend to their every need. It might be hard work to get them going, but the rewards are worth it when you’ve put love and care into growing your tomatoes.
What do tomatoes need to grow?
Tomatoes are a summer fruit, so they need a lot of sunshine, nutrients and water to thrive, but there’s more to it than just the basics. Essentially, tomatoes need to get a solid 8 hours of sunshine every day while growing, so choose a place in your garden that gets the most amount of sun! If this is hard, you can always use a raised garden bed or large pot in a sunny spot for the tomatoes to grow, using plenty of organic matter as they love to feed.
How can I start growing my tomatoes?
Get your seedlings going by placing a glass frame over your tomato area to fight off frost at night; you can also keep seedling trays in a warm spot and fertilise regularly to kickstart the process. While tomatoes are at risk of fungal disease, they need constant airflow especially if your climate is humid – knowing your area’s climate is an advantage when growing your own tomatoes.
How often should I water my tomatoes?
Tomatoes are thirsty fruits, they love regular watering around the root zone! The key to giving your tomatoes full growth advantage is consistent watering, as inconsistent watering can lead to splitting in the fruit. They’re a high maintenance fruit, but they don’t have to take up all of your down-time; try installing a tap timer with your drip irrigation so you can easily water without being present.
Growing tomatoes in pots works well but you may need to water your plant twice daily if they’re in a black pot as they attract heat the most. You’ll efficiently water your tomato roots with drip irrigation – they’re better off rooted a third deeper than other plants as they love deep, cool soil to grow in. This helps them take up more nutrients as they go and produce more fruit for harvest, win!
Be sure to cater to your tomatoes during hot weather, protecting them with mulch to prevent quick evaporation; when extremely hot days are coming, put up a temporary shelter or umbrella so they don’t cook in the hot Aussie sun. If your climate is extremely dry and hot, it might be easier to grow other varieties of tomatoes than the traditional large ones.
What varieties of tomatoes can I grow?
Growing cherry tomatoes are a great alternative as they’re small, sweet, and go with many dishes (plus they’re delicious straight off the vine). Having the right conditions for your cherry tomato crop means you can splurge a little more on the good varieties and even try something different like heirloom tomatoes, or the purple, yellow or green kind for some beautiful flavours.
Growing cherry tomatoes is super rewarding and you’ll easily find specialist seed suppliers at your local garden centre that can give you the right information for your climate and space. While it’s a lot more cost effective growing cherry tomatoes from seedlings, you’ll need to dedicate more time and effort to sow them to reap their fruition.
How do I prevent issues when growing tomatoes?
Tomatoes are unpredictable and while you might do everything right, there’s always a risk of them not being the same as last year – remember tomatoes are at risk of disease, avoid growing plants in the same bed two years in a row, rotate your plantings for each new crop.
You might find a powdery mildew on your tomato leaves which is a type of fungi; though it doesn’t directly kill the plant, they can cause damage by feeding on the cells. These first start as yellow patches on leaves which turn brown or show as white powdery spots – to prevent this, use sulfur dusts and sprays or fungicide. Your soil may be low in nitrogen, or you have watered the plant too much, or not enough sun, which can also create yellow leaves.
To get rid of bugs and pests eating your precious tomatoes before you can, mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda, half a teaspoon mild detergent and 2 and a half tablespoons of olive oil in 4 litres of water to make a repellent (this is also a great natural fungicide). Shake it well before spraying and repeat every week for best results!
Are growing tomatoes worth it?
Tomatoes you grow yourself can be rewarding and are best eaten fresh off the vine, but you can also enjoy them cooked, pickled or dried for a longer shelf life. It’s a good idea to keep a record of your variety and how your crop grew, especially if you need some pointers for your next harvest if it isn’t going as well. Everything tastes better when you grow it yourself!