Tomato vines are garden diva’s, bedazzling themselves in ruby bright orbs. Picked, these jewels decorate a dinner plate with extravagant taste. The first bite of my sun ripened tomato happened in slow motion as the taste of red took my breath away and I stopped everything, sitting down to savour the song between my teeth.
|PARTS YOU CAN EAT:||Fruit|
|SOWING SEASON:||Spring to early Summer – see sowing chart|
|SOIL pH:||pH 5.5 – 6.5|
|SOW MANY:||2 – 5 plants every 4 people|
|PLANT MORE:||Every 4 weeks in growing season|
|SEED SPACING:||70cm – 1m apart|
|GERMINATION:||4 – 7 Days|
|HARVEST:||9 – 12 weeks after sowing|
|STORE:||Room temperature, sun dry or make puree|
|COMPANION PLANTS:||Asparagus, basil, beans, carrots, celery, chives, cucumbers, lettuce, marigolds, mint, nasturtiums, onions, parsley, peppers|
|HEIRLOOM SEED:||San Marzano, Parma Beefsteak, Oxheart, Red Cherry, Yellow Pear
GROW TOMATOES IN 5 EASY STEPS…
Tomatoes are very generous souls that like to share, as the more you pick, the more are there. You find 2 types: determinate which are more bushy, grow about 1m tall and produce all their fruit at the same time and indeterminate tomatoes, which have vine habits, growing branches up to 6m long and produce continually until disease or frost kill them off.
Tomatoes are heavy feeders and so I enrich my soil with well matured compost (horse manure is best) and a generous sprinkling of volcanic rock dust. As the fruit comes from the flowers, I feed the soil with a potassium rich fertilizer, like potash or wood ash, as this helps the plant produce more flowers.
For a family of 4 sow 3 – 5 plants and plant again every 4 weeks until the end of the growing season. Space 70cm – 1m apart. If you have seedlings plant them with just the leaves sticking out as they will grow stronger root systems. Tomatoes ramble and so by staking them they grow better and produce more fruit.
*TIP: ‘Black thumbs’? Try our ‘Slab of Seed‘ to grow heirloom tomatoes plants.
Tomatoes prefer their roots being watered as opposed to being watered overhead and it helps prevent fungal infections. Feeding them with an organic foliar nutrient like Biotrissol will stimulate them to grow more flowers, giving you a more abundant crop, and will also help deter diseases.
Once tomatoes have grown their 5th or 6th branches prune off any branches below. Prune the ‘suckers’ (off shoots that grow in between to main branches) and leave 3 – 5 growing stems which will produce an abundance of tomatoes.
Leaving the tomatoes to ripen on the vine gives them the most flavourful taste. Most people refrigerate tomatoes but this changes the texture and flavour of the tomato remarkably and it is best to store your tomatoes at room temperature. To store make sun dried tomatoes which can last up to a year or tomato pesto.
GOOD COMPANIONS: Asparagus, basil, beans, carrots, celery, chives, cucumbers, lettuce, marigolds, mint, nasturtiums, onions, parsley, peppers
BAD COMPANIONS: Brassicas, potatoes.
Birds love sun kissed tomatoes as much as we do. To stop them nibbling I take a large piece of ‘fly mesh’ and secure it with a piece of twine around the vine. The plant gets enough light but the holes are too small for a birds beak to sneak through and steal a bite.