How To Grow Tomatoes In Your Garden
Growing tomatoes is the most popular garden activity of all home grown crops. The secret of course is knowing how to grow tomatoes, and more importantly which varieties to choose. Tomato plants generally provide a good yield for the space they take up in the garden, and some years can see you end up with an abundance of fruit, especially if it has been wet and warm.
When I first started my garden, my father told me that ‘Gross Liss’ were the best tomatoes to grow, so naturally this was my first venture into growing tomatoes. Although I did get some tomatoes, and they were quite large in size, they seemed to take forever to ripen. In following years I have tried ‘Tommy Toe’ tomatoes, which are a great little tomato, and are easy to grow and maintain. ‘Sweet Bite’ was another similar variety that provided good results.
‘Quick Pick’ is another small tomato variety plant, often considered a bush tomato, which rather than growing tall – tends to spread wide at ground level. The year these were planted yielded hundreds of small, tasty tomatoes which were perfect for salads or just eating as a snack! This year I have decided to grow tomatoes referred to as ‘Apollo’, which if anything like last years crop, provided an abundance of delicious fruit.
When growing any variety of tomato, it’s important to keep your eye on the fruit as it begins to change colour. Once the tomatoes change from green to yellow, it’s a good idea to pick them, bring them inside, and let them continue to ripen on the window sill. Years of experience have proven time and again that failing to do this creates a war with the birds, who like us, love to eat tomatoes once they begin to completely ripen changing in colour from yellow to red!
When growing tomatoes, be mindful they are susceptible to frost, and are generally considered a warm season plant. To grow tomatoes, you need about 3 months of sustainable warm weather in order to grow a worthy crop. Tomatoes will do well in light or heavy soil, but the soil must be well drained. Dig your garden bed spade deep, add mulch to the soil, and ensure you provide thorough regular watering during the growing period – as this is essential to a successful outcome.
When planting tomatoes, space them approximately 50cm apart, and scoop a shallow depression around the plant so that water is directed to the roots. Also place mulch around each plant to help conserve moisture, but not too close to the plant stem. It’s also a good idea to place 4 wooden steaks around each plant, so as the plant grows, it can be tied to the steaks to promote straight growth. Stabilising the plant in this manner also prevents the likelihood of the plant breaking under the weight of the fruit. A great trick I use to tie the plants to the steaks is with the use of household shopping bags. Simply cut off the handles and bottom seam, and cut the bag into 1 inch strips. These work great, and prevent additional expense of having to purchase commerical plant ties!
So now you know how to grow tomatoes, and what varieties to look out for. There are certainly a lot more varieties of tomatoes on the market than just those discussed here, but these are what I have found to work well for me – and will hopefully do so for you too. Take a look at the growing vegetables category page for other posts on growing common household vegetables in your garden.