Tui Garden

Tomato Growing Guide

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If you only grow one crop this year make it tomatoes, they can be used in so many meals and will produce loads of juicy fruit. The health benefits of fresh produce are endless, the flavour can’t be beaten and the satisfaction of successfully growing your own is immense. Although tomatoes are technically a fruit, they are used in many savoury dishes so commonly thought of as a vegetable.
 
Once the cold weather has passed, and the soils have warmed up its time to plant out tomato plants. Labour weekend is known as the traditional tomato planting time but tomato seedlings are usually available in garden centres from August.
 
Varieties available include small red and yellow cherry/cocktail types, acid free Roma and vine tomatoes, and trusty tried and true traditional types such as Beefsteak and Money Maker.

Prepare

  • Choose a sunny spot for your tomato crops that is sheltered from strong winds.
  • Its generally best practice not to plant your tomatoes in the same spot as last season, as diseases can remain in the soil and affect your new crop.
  • Prepare the soil in your garden by digging it over, and blending in Tui Organic Compost  and Tui Tomato Mix to the area.
  • Tui Tomato Mix is specially formulated for growing tomatoes and contains all the nutrients they need. Added potash enhances fruit and flower production (rather than leafy growth).
  • Tomatoes need little space to grow and are suitable to grow in containers and pots, as well as the garden.
  • If you're planting in containers, choose one least 30 litres in size for each tomato plant - that’s 3 times to size of an average kitchen bucket. Fill with Tui Tomato Mix.

Plant

  • Dig a hole approximately twice the depth and width of the root ball of the plant, and place your tomato plant in the centre of the hole and fill in.
  • If planting in rows, plant 60cm – 80cm apart.
  • Stake your tomatoes as you plant - wind can easily damage young plants and the stake provides support to young plants and to the fruit as it forms through the season. By staking when you plant you will avoid damaging the roots later on.
  • Always water your tomatoes well, before and after planting.
  • As your tomato plant grows, remove the laterals (these are the side branches that appear where the leaves join the plant stems). Laterals suck a lot of goodness from the plant, limiting fruit production.

Nourish

  • Feed your tomatoes and they will feed you. Plants use nutrients from the soil as they grow so replenishing the nutrients will help your tomatoes grow to their full potential. Tomatoes enjoy fertiliser high in potassium (potash).
  • For tomatoes planted in the garden apply Tui Tomato Food, which is high in potassium. Potassium is essential for enhancing fruit and flower production and enhances the juiciness of the fruit.
  • For container crops, use a soluble fertiliser such as Tui Eco-Fert, or you could use Tui NovaTec Premium Fertiliser.
  • Always water fertiliser in well after application.
  • Water tomatoes regularly, preferably in the morning. A good deep soaking 2 or 3 times a week is better than more regular, shallow watering.
  • Apply SaturAid to soil surrounding plants; this will draw water to the roots where it is needed most.

Protect

  • Birds love juicy tomatoes - once yours start fruiting cover with netting to protect them.
  • Tomatoes are susceptible to various diseases, one of the most common being blossom end rot. This can be caused by various factors including low levels of calcium. The best way to prevent blossom end rot is consistency of care, taking particular care to ensure soil doesn't dry out.