Tomatoes originated from South America and were introduced in Europe in the 1500's where they were first used for food in Italy. The Italians believed they were an aphrodisiac, giving the humble tomato its nickname the Love Apple.
- Tomatoes don't like cold weather! If you live in cooler climates avoid planting until late Winter. Warmer climates can grow most of the year.
- Position in a warm, sheltered location with full sun.
- Tomatoes draw a lot of nutrients from the soil so space them well apart (50-75cm).
- Add an organic compost to the soil prior to planting and mulch with an organic matter to retain moisture.
- Plant alongside French Marigolds to deter whitefly. Also grows well with basil, parsley, nasturtiums and asparagus.
- Water young plants every 2 days. Once the plant is mature, give it a good soak once a week to encourage deep root growth. Soil must be well-drained, tomatoes don't like to be water logged.
- Water at the roots, avoiding the leaves to minimize disease.
- Just about all varieties will need a trellis or stake to support the plant as it grows and bears fruit. As the plant grows, secure it loosely to a long wooden stake with cloth ties. *old cut up clothes or stockings work well!*
- As the plant grows, remove the sucker shoots that grow out from the main stem and branches. This will result in a better formed plant and transfer energy towards growing fruit.
- Depending on the variety, Tomatoes take anywhere between 7-14 weeks until harvest and have a long harvest period.
- You can either leave them to ripen on the vine or pick them when they are still a little firm to then ripen on the windowsill.
There are a huge variety of tomatoes that range in size, taste and colour. One thing is for sure, home grown tomatoes have far greater flavour than commercially grown. The cherry or bite-sized tomatoes are a good choice for small gardens or for growing in pots on patios. For beginner and family gardeners we recommend trying the small varieties first as they are easy to grow, produce large quantities and are fun to pick! Here is a list of common varieties we suggest you try at home;
- Grosse Lisse - Most common large variety
- Beefsteak - Large juicy flavorsome
- Super Apollo - Disease resistent
- Summertaste - Australian Variety
- Tiny Tim - Compact bushy plant ideal for pots