I wrote a huge post about growing tomatoes some time ago. But as posts get lost on the web I decided to write a new one and add my discoveries from last two years. Hopefully that will make your experience with growing that beautiful plants easier and full of pleasure.
The way I grow tomatoes isn’t cheap – people can buy cheap tomatoes in the supermakets, but they lack taste and all look pretty much the same. I give my tomatoes great soil, great natural fertilizers and a lot of my time. They grow in the sun and you can almost feel how sun rays feel like when you try a warm tomato on warm August afternoon. I grow a lot of things in my garden but somehow tomatoes are my favourites!
To sum up the things I wrote previously you must know these facts about tomatoes:
Tomatoes come in so many varieties it can make your head spin. I grow few varieties my family loves and always test some new ones. I always seek for amazing taste, sometimes I grow them for their shapes, but taste is always number one priority. In the last two years I tested more than a hundred types of tomatoes and have ten that are my absolute favourites. I love having all colors and shapes as they are always a crowd pleaser at the parties.
I grow them in raised beds and containers. Half is in the greenhouse, but others have to be outside due to lack of space but they are also doing fine. I must say I do get best results in the greenhouse, those plants have most fruit and they are the biggest ones. I always use a mix of compost, composted manure(cow or horse) and bagged vegetable soil. In the last two years I mixed compost with cow manure and soiled composted with nettle “tea”. For a year I grew tomatoes in two types of soil/manure mixture and this one worked better- the plants were healthier and crop was bigger. I fertilise my tomatoes once a week with organic fertilisers – such as compost tea, guano, nettle tea, I try to switch. I also spray them with compost tea and nettle tea, diluted 1:10 with water.
VARIETIES WE LOVE:
RED: Bull’s Heart, Brandywine, Gardener’s delight,
BLACK/BROWN: Black Cherry, Aunt Ginny’s Purple,Cherokee Chocolate, Vintage Wine,
GREEN:Green Zebra, Aunt Ruby’s German Green, Ananas Noir
YELLOW: Dr.Wyche’s Yellow, Hazel Mae, Orange Strawberry, Yellow pearshaped
Sowing: I sow my tomatoes in seed trays at the beginning of March, after three weeks or so, when they develop their first true leaves I transplant them into their own containers. They live for two months on the windowsills and wait for the warmer days. I fertilise them as soon as they develop first true leaves, once a week, with liquid organic blend for tomatoes.
When on windowsill I change position of the trays every two days(they tend to bend into the sun) and gently brush them with my hand so they stay strong. And I avoid any temperature drop and wind.
I put them in the greenhouse in the middle of April and outside after May 15th which is Poland’s last frost date.I usually harden them for a days or two, day in the greenhouse, night at home. I plant them deeply up to their first true leaves, they will develop strong roots beneath.
good companions: basil, garlic, marigolds and chives
warmth: they love the sun- so give them a sunny spot
good organic food weekly
water- but not on the leaves!
pruning suckers- some say it’s not true but it stops them from getting bushy hence more ventilation hence less fungal diseases.
staking- I use bamboo sticks or strings. You don’t want them laying on the ground, not even leaves touching the ground, that’s the easiest way for them to catch a fungal disease! You can use tomato cages too or any kind of DIY support you can think of
Cold- they even look unhappy when temperature drops, they die when frost hits
Bad company- don’t grow them with cucumbers, potatoes, corn and beans
Being wet- they like their water but not on the leaves- it’s best if they have some kind of roof over them, I grow my container ones on the terrace, where they are under a roof but still get plenty of sun. They will survive being wet, but are more prone to fungal diseases.
Tomato growing secrets: I wish someone had told me those few years ago:
– prune the suckers as soon as they appear- it sounds easy in the early stages of growth- but there are days I think they play a game with me,
-when fruit is fully developed water less- I use this technique in autumn with the last tomatoes,when all fruit has developed in size. I almost stop watering them at all, give them water once a week. They become so sweet you wouldn’t believe
-I swear by nettle “tea”- I cut a lot of nettle in May and fill half a barrel with it, cover with water and let stand for two weeks. It smells. It really smells! After two weeks when there is no more bubbling in the barrel I dilute this mixture 1:10 and water with it once a week. It works wonders!
Ok i leave you with all those beauties. Feast your eyes. ANd good luck with your crops guys!! Let me know about your adventures!