Growing Tomatoes

Fresh tomatoes straight from the garden

I love growing tomatoes and they are so versatile that I thought I’d give them a page all to themselves.

Heritage seeds are the best, then you can save the seeds for next year.

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Tomatoes are a food we like to have all year round. They are one of the Nightshade Plants (interesting family of plants this one!)

Store bought tomatoes have usually been picked when they're green. Growing Tomatoes can require a lot of chemicals if the farmer does not use organic or natural methods. Unless you buy organic tomatoes there is no way of knowing exactly how many chemicals have been used on your tomatoes.

Growing Tomatoes in your own Organic Vegetable Garden has so many advantages:

  • you can pick them when they are ripe, they taste sooo much better.
  • you can grow them organically which is much better for you and your family.
  • you can plant different varieties and in different seasons.

There is a fantastic book called How to Grow the Best Juicy Tasty Tomatoes. If you want expert guidance, heaps of bonuses and the best tomatoes on the block, this book is a must read.

Growing Conditions

Tomatoes like full sun. My plants get some afternoon shade and they don’t seem to mind at all.

Try and be particular with your watering. Water deeply and regularly for new plants, otherwise you can get blossom end rot and cracking. Once the fruit begins to ripen you can slow down the watering as this will entice the plant into concentrating its sugars.

Soil Type

Soil is very important for growing tomatoes. To avoid soil borne diseases, tomatoes should not be grown in the same place two years in a row, so give them a new home next year. They should also not be planted where you were growing potatoes or other Nightshade Plants, the previous year.

Compost and Mulch in your veggie patch will help all your veggies.

Feed them

Fertilize your plants every 10 to 15 days.

Try to water regularly and a similar amount. This is tricky when you have the rain helping you. Mulch your vegetable garden to help keep the moisture in the soil. Doing these things will help prevent the fruit from splitting.

What to grow

There is a huge variety of tomatoes. Cherry, Roma, and the usual shape ones too of course. They range in colour from yellow, orange, red, green to almost black.

I like to grow cherry tomatoes, roma and usual ones as well. Cherry tomatoes are easy to eat and great in salads. Kids love them too.

When to grow

Fortunately there are early and late varieties. You will need to look on the packet for your zone and when you can plant them. Try then to get varieties to plant during the different seasons. Remember if you get frosts you may have to protect your plants. If you are buying your seeds online – email the company, let them know you would like tomatoes all year round and ask for a recommended list of plants and the season to plant them.

Pests and Diseases

There a number of pest and disease issues when growing tomatoes. When you are growing a small amount of tomatoes you should be lucky not to see any problems. I have only had problems when I grew my cherry tomatoes in the same place as the previous year (actually they self seeded so I should have transplanted them).

It’s best to be aware of them and keep an eye out, that way you will be ready to use a natural, organic method to fix the problem rather than resort to chemicals. If you do get a disease or notice a bug do a search on Google and you’ll find plenty of help.

Keep your plants healthy and water correctly as stressed plants attract pests and diseases. Follow the watering guide as above.

You can get a bush tomato, you can also buy an upside down tomato planter, however, most tomatoes you'll need to use Vertical Gardening methods.

If you only have a small yard then you'll need some patio gardening ideas, you can try Vegetable Container Gardening.

Weather will cause most of your diseases. Continually wet weather or humid weather creates great conditions for fungal diseases.

I like to remove the bottom leaves once the plants are getting established. These leaves will usually be to first to get fungal diseases.

You can spray with a compost tea if you are worried about fungal diseases. You can do this weekly if you can keep up with that schedule!

Some diseases are soil borne which means they are in the soil not the plant itself so this is a bit trickier. Don't plant in the same spot two years in a row and stake your tomatoes to help with this.

If you know what disease you have get some more info on Wikipedia

Companion Planting:

Basil is a great companion plant for tomatoes. Unfortunately you need quite a few basil plants to be of benefit. So plant a basil nearby just in case but if it doesn't help you'll know why!

Other good Companion Plants:

  • Celery, Parsley, Basil, Carrots, Chives, Marigolds, Roses, Peppers, Asparagus, Oregano, Marigold, Alliums, Geraniums, Petunias, Nasturtium, Borage
Don't plant your tomatoes next to:
  • Rosemary, Potatoes, Fennel, Corn, Peas, Dill, Beetroot, Kales (Kohlrabi, Cabbage, etc)

Keep your tomatoes away from other Nightshade Plants. This will produce a chemical called juglone.

Check out my Companion Planting page for more information on good and bad buddies when growing tomatoes.

Save the seeds for next year

Some of the seeds from store bought veggies may not germinate. It's best to buy heritage seeds and use the seeds from these fruits and veggies for next year.

Collect your seeds, wash and dry them. Put on a tray for about 10 days to let them dry.

Once dried, put in a sealed bag. Write down what the variety is and also when to plant it.

You can save lots of seeds from your veggies for next year.

Eat them...

Tomatoes are so versatile all year round. You can't have a garden salad without tomatoes! Add to pizzas, casseroles, pasta, Indian dishes, make your own tomato sauce, the list is endless. With eggs for brekky, on sandwiches for lunch and in your soup or pasta for dinner. (you're going to grown some now, right?)

I love tomato soup. This Tomato Soup Recipe is delicious and a will taste even better with your own home grown tomatoes.

Have fun and enjoy your tomatoes.
If you get too many make some sauce, or send them to me!