Today is the 7 th of September 2019 and
It is that time of year again… to start Talking… yes, just Talking about getting ready to plant your Tomato crops for this Spring & Summer. We already have them available ready to go, but we will not be selling them to you until the end of September… here is why…
I do a post like this every year and notice posts from other growers and gardeners every year at this time of year and we all say the same thing and have been saying it for decades, it is the age old debate in Melbourne about when to plant out your Tomato crops to ensure you get Maximum yield of fruit over Summer.
There is nothing more rewarding than growing your own food and especially Tomatoes. Nothing beats that fragrant smell or taste of sweet fresh tomatoes grown in your backyard and especially for kids and grandkids, picking healthy freshly grown fruit straight off the bush, they can run around the garden all day picking and eating.
The following is my advice and observations from growing tomatoes in my home town of Monbulk. It is not necessarily the BIBLE for growing tomatoes in the universe, as each region has its differences, it is always best to buy and get advice from your local nursery, garden centre or grower about what is best for your area.
I have learnt not only from Family members, peers, other growers, locals, but also my own customers over the last 20+ years. you never stop learning and it is great to share knowledge and advice as no year of growing is without issues, complications or experiences new and old.
I believe There are 2 types of Tomato suppliers,
a: is the Hardware & supermarkets only doing it because it is the current interest for the season and a quick easy way to bump up some profits, they generally have tomatoes available for purchase from late July/August.
They are generally more expensive than proper nurseries or market sellers and don’t offer a staff member to guide you or assist you in how to best grow your tomatoes… so avoid and ignore those seedlings they have bought from glasshouse or interstate to get the jump on the local suppliers, transplanting those ones into your garden will probably result in slow growing plants, early flowering or stunted growth, the hardware and supermarkets are not interested about your success or failure in growing plants and in general are leading people to not get the best results, or finding growing plants in general too difficult and leading to our absolute worst nightmare, people not bothering gardening at all, because they feel they are no good at it.
b: is Nurseries and Market Traders, we grow the plants for a living, know when to offer them for sale for best results, rather than just throwing them out there to maximise profits, are on hand to advise when and how to plant and how to problem solve, because there is always something that needs fixing throught the growing period, thats just how Mother Nature works, but it is all part of learning and experiencing and anybody can do it.
Nurseries and Market traders rely heavily on trust of product and knowledge from you, the customer, so that you keep coming back to us, trusting our quality, advise and experiences, without your repeat custom, you will only have option a: in the future, so it is our job and livelihood to ensure you have success and enjoy Gardening.
Now some of you might think I could have done this post without giving the hardware’s and supermarkets a slap,…. well NO… I couldn’t have, the reason is, we have so many people and especially new gardeners ask us daily right now as to why we don’t have Tomatoes and Basil available like certain large chain stores do, my answer has always been i do things the right way at the right time for the right reasons. i do not want to discourage people from gardening for the sake of profits, we are here for the long haul and need people to trust our quality and advice.
NOW WE HAVE GOT THAT OUT OF THE WAY, lets get on with the reasons why
TIME OF YEAR TO PLANT TOMATOES IN MELBOURNE
My Father and Grandparents have my whole life taught me, that you never plant Tomato seedlings out until around Melbourne Cup weekend ( first week of November), the reason for this was to avoid any chance of late Winter or Spring FROST wiping out the fresh seedlings, also transplanting any seedlings before the end of September can result in poor or damaged growth due to the cold night air and soil temperature still also being too cold, generally by the end of September, we are getting more days of 20 degrees or above, which Tomatoes prefer, they are a Summer fruit after all.
I MIGHT JUST ADD AT THIS POINT, IF YOU HAVE A GLASSHOUSE, GREENHOUSE OR IGLOO, THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING, YOU CAN ACTUALLY GROW TOMATOES EARLER. WE SOW OUR SEEDS IN OUR GREENHOUSE IN AUGUST TO HAVE TOMATOES AVAILABLE FOR END OF SEPTEMBER SALES.
Our range of Tomatoes will be available from AFL Grand Final weekend.
the key to growing strong, healthy and productive Tomatoes is too not have a high level of nitrogen in your soil, you still need some nitrogen for plant development and growth, just don’t overdo it. Nitrogen is great for leafy greens, like lettuce, spinach, silver beet etc, etc, but you don’t eat the leaves of Tomatoes, so what’s the point.
I prepare our garden beds for tomatoes, every year about now ( 3-4 weeks before I plant Tomatoes) with a neutral fertiliser, like Cow Manure, you could use chook manure, i also add a small amount of garden lime to the garden beds to raise calcium availability in the soil and prevent blossom end rot in your tomatoes.
if your soil is heavy with clay, use some gypsum to help break it up a bit along with the above advice.
i like to use a seaweed concentrate once per month, i know this is pushing the not too high nitrogen advice and high vigour foliage growth, but i find it aids my resilience, strength of stems and growth of tomatoes if the weather during the Spring months is a bit topsy turvy ( extremities of hot, cold, windy etc), i also find that using a small amount of potash around November helps to induce flowering or more flowering, which is what we are aiming for.
HOW TO PLANT TOMATOES
Plant them deep.
whatever the height of the Tomato ( not including root ball), you have purchased, I normally plant half into the ground or pot. Remove any leaves on the section you are going to plant into the ground to avoid risk of rot or disease.
Planting Deep will enable the Tomato to develop more roots along the stem, making it more resilient to variation of soil moisture, temperatures and providing a much more vigorous, stronger, healthier plant, you will have to take our word for it.
ONCE THE TOMATOES ESTABLISH IN THE GARDEN
I like to prune away any of the bottom branches so that they are not touching the ground, keeps the air flowing around the tomatoes, reducing the risk of infection, rot or disease… it is also good to companion plant Basil, Marigolds or any other fragrant smaller herbs around your Tomatoes to distract white fly or bugs from attacking the fruit when it sets.
Staking… please yourself, most gardeners have a method that works for them, we have tried the flimsy wire frames from the a: suppliers, most of them are rubbish and bend over with the weight of the plants when in fruit… out simple solution or alternative that we use, is just 3 hardwood stakes tied together like a tee pee…. really simple and effective.
WHAT DO WE OFFER AT PADDYS PLANTS
there are so many varieties of Tomatoes to choose from and everybody has their favourites that they swear by, which is great, it means people are passionate about growing their own food, but in my 20+ years as Paddys Plants, these are my best performers that we stock here
- Patio… globe type fruit, our best performer and yielder of fruit, we pick buckets off one plant of these every summer.
- Sweetbite… Cherry tomato, always a favourite, but due to people not having backyard space for this variety, we have decided to substitute it for Tiny Tim and Tommy Toe, which are both excellent dwarf form sweet cherrys
- Grosse Lisse… again another old fashioned favourite, for good reason, the originals, are generally the best, a good slicing tomato for salads & sandwiches, fruits best from Mid January onwards
- Roma … and again another old fashioned favourite, great for sauces, slicing, salads etc, so versatile
- Truss… globe type and long trusses of sweet fruit, great for salads, cooking etc, we also have Candyland Red available as well
We just have the 7 varieties of Tomatoes available this year, all red forms, with 2 cherry forms, 2 truss forms, 1 cooking form and the old fashioned favourite Grosse Lisse, these have been our best performers for not only yield, but growth and sales over the last decade and we are confident in our quality and advice, that you will have great succes this summer in your garden with our tomatoes.