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Tasty Tomatoes by Cath Manuel

29 January, 2019

There’s nothing quite like the taste of a homegrown tomato.

If you’ve ever picked a fresh tomato and eaten it straight away, you’ll understand what I’m saying!

There’s so much flavour and nutrients packed into little cherry tomatoes or the bigger Roma or Beefsteak. Whichever variety grown they will always taste divine! They are considered a super food, packed with vitamin A and A and full of antioxidant power.

Tomatoes are relatively easy to grow, but there are a few things to know about them before you get started.

Here’s a few of my growing tips…

  • Tomatoes are hungry plants! Prior to planting or sowing seeds, allow time to build up a rich, deep layer of healthy soil. Compost or old rotted manures are great additions to the dirt a few weeks before growing. Also include a sprinkle of rock minerals and a slow release organic fertiliser to feed soil throughout the growing time. Follow my steps in this article to prepare your gardens… https://soiltosupper.com/5-easy-ways-to-feed-your-garden-and-grow-more-food/
  • There are two types of tomatoes grown, Indeterminate and Determinate.

Indeterminate grow as vines, so require a trellis or fence for support. They are prolific fruiters and good for any sized garden as they grow vertically, which can save garden space.

Determinate tomatoes grow as smaller bushes so no need for vertical support and they produce a high yield of crops. These tomatoes are great for growing in pots, large tubs or hanging baskets.

  • Tomatoes need to have a consistent watering during the first month of growth. This helps to establish strong roots. Once they have settled in and producing new healthy leaves you can cut back on watering as too much water after this time can reduce the flavour of the fruit. Also only water the soil around the plants, never the leaves. Wet leaves will cause diseases in tomatoes which can kill plants.
  • Pests can be a problem with tomatoes, especially in unhealthy plants. This is why it’s best to feed the soil before growing tomatoes. This provides nutrients during the flowering and fruiting stages. Common pests on tomatoes are aphids, white fly and fruit fly, and you may also find caterpillars and grasshoppers eating the leaves.
  • A few common diseases that affect tomatoes are leaf spot, mosaic virus and nematodes in the soil. For information on plant diseases have a read of this article https://soiltosupper.com/how-to-deal-with-plant-diseases/

TIP – if you have pests or diseases on your plants and you need help to identify them or would like solutions to problems, please post your question in the Soil to Supper Facebook Club. I’m there most days to help with any problems you may have. https://www.facebook.com/groups/soiltosupperclub/

  • For healthy crops it’s important to include companion plants when growing tomatoes. The best companion is basil! Basil and tomato grow perfectly together, with the basil helping to improve the flavour of tomatoes…yes really!!

Also bees love basil flowers and they help to pollinate the fruit. Basil also helps to deter aphids, white fly and fruit fly. Also grow Marigolds, Parsley or Chives with tomatoes to help deter pests and add pretty colour to the garden. Read more on good companions here – https://soiltosupper.com/how-to-grow-companion-plants-in-your-garden/

Tomatoes are a must-have plant for all kitchen gardens, grown through spring and summer and sometimes into Autumn!

Although they are a delicious crop to pick and eat, the leaves are highly toxic to humans if consumed. In my years of gardening with residents in aged care and disability support I have never witnessed anyone eating tomatoes leaves, but it is something to consider when planning what to grow in your gardens.

When gardening with people who have dementia, it’s a good idea to discourage any eating from the garden, whilst IN the garden. This helps to reduce confusion around what can and cannot be eaten as even signs indicating edible plants can be misunderstood.

One way around this is to harvest ingredients into small baskets or bowls and take food to kitchens to be prepared and eaten. This way no one is actually eating anything in the garden, so it reduces the risks of toxic leaves and flowers being accidentally consumed.

I find this also works well with young children in the garden.

Tomatoes are delicious crops that are definitely worth growing as the rewards of a tasty harvest are fantastic!

For extra ideas on growing fresh food have a read of these articles;

Until next time, happy growing!