All About Tomatoes

The not so humble tomato is at the top of the “must grow” list for many gardeners. In most years, the challenge is to see who is the most successful in harvesting a crop before Christmas. There are so many varieties to choose from and there is such a great range of colour too.

The Neutrog team told us what they’re growing in their home gardens this year. We have Green Zebra for its wonderful green colour and yellow stripes which indicate when it’s ripe. Several varieties of cherry tomatoes in different colours. The fabulous and ever reliable Grosse Lisse. Plus, a couple of unknowns. One of the team had their property under flood in June 2016. In the summer of 2016-17 a tomato seedling popped up on their river flats. It was a delicious little truss tomato which was never watered, had cows trampling over it and it survived right through until the worst of the frosts the following winter. Seed was saved and it has been affectionately named Flood Red. Another is growing a tomato known as Mr. Curry. Known as Mr Curry, because that’s the old bloke who provided the original seed. This is a huge fleshy and extremely tasty tomato which fruits right through until late May.

Images courtesy of Diggers Club

If your region is past the cold and frosts of winter, then you can start to plant out your tomatoes now. Many of you will be tempted to plant regardless and if that’s the case, just be on the lookout for those late frosts that can cause damage. You can cover your plants up for the night. Do ensure that the top of the plant in particular is covered and that the covering is not touching the foliage. If it is, the frost could still penetrate through.

Tomatoes like a good full day of sun and ideally some protection from the wind. Dig your position over well and incorporate plenty of Rooster Booster or Seamungus throughout the soil. Water in well with GOGO Juice which will populate the soil with billions of beneficial bacteria. These little bugs do so much good in your soils and work really well in breaking down your organic matter and providing you with strong, vigorous and healthy plants. If you have quite a large seedling – as pictured – dig a good-sized hole. Remove several of the side laterals and plant deeply – again, as pictured. Treat a smaller seedling similarly but decrease in size relevant to your seedling and remove one lateral. This method allows the tomato to develop a very strong root system. This method is for seedlings only. Do not plant a grafted variety in this manner, or your fruit will be whatever was used as rootstock. If you are growing a variety which needs staking, then put the stake into the soil before you put your seedling in. This ensures that you don’t damage any roots, which you could do if staking occurred later.

Look for strong, upright seedlings. Don’t be tempted by anything else. A grafted variety might be the choice for you. Grafted seedlings are more expensive, but they are on tough, hardy rootstock which means you will have a very strong plant which will grow and fruit well.

As the plant starts to grow, you might like to nip out the laterals. This means less foliage and more sun for the fruit to ripen. It also potentially means less fruit. If you are in a really hot region you might not do this, as the foliage can protect the fruit from sunburn. Whilst the tomato is growing, tie it carefully to the stake. A soft tie is best.

Once your plant is 8 weeks old, we recommend that you fertilise it every 8 weeks throughout the season. Gyganic for Veggies Fruit & Citrus is perfect for this. It will encourage a floriferous plant and the fruit size, quality and flavour will be enhanced. Another tip with Gyganic is to incorporate some through the bottom of your hole at planting time – cover with some fresh untreated soil and let the roots grow down into the Gyganic.

Images courtesy of Diggers Club

Some of the more popular tall growing varieties are Grosse Lisse, Beefsteak & Apollo. If you are limited for room then you could grow a tomato in a pot. If you’re doing that then do use a premium potting mix. Don’t be tempted to skimp on a cheap product. Follow the same preparation as we recommend for a ground grown plant. The many cherry tomatoes available all do well in pots and some of the smaller growing varieties you could look out for include KY1 or Principe Borghese. You can also purchase a great range of seeds online, via Diggers Club.


Green Zebra

Image courtesy of Diggers Club

Image courtesy of Diggers Club

Many of you have no doubt been following with interest our tomato fertiliser Dead Horse, which has been under trial with Diggers Club. Unfortunately, due to COVID, we could not conclude our trials, but these will be continuing next year. Suffice to say, that the early results were stupendous, with all varieties increasing their yield by many percent over the untreated plants – two varieties increased incredibly – one by over 22% & the other by a staggering 57%.

Keep your plants roots moist and warm – especially whilst the soil is still warming up after winter, by mulching with WhoFlungDung. You can then enjoy the fun and satisfaction of growing this most wonderful of vegetables.

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