Growing tomatoes

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Holy Grail of vegetable growing- the MIGHTY TOMATO. I must say I still remember the taste of raspberry tomato my mother grew in our backyard when I was no older than six years old. When I started growing my first vegetables, first thing I bought was the raspberry tomato, it grew beautifully and I was so proud. Then the blight came and all my bushes died within hours. But I’m not a person who is that easily defeated. Next year I knew all the things I could to grow healthy plants and hopefully there wouldn’t be any crying that year. I did end the year with 150 kg of beautiful tomatoes all grown organically. And I thought anyone starting out and seeking info would love to read about my tomato adventures.

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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.
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. It is free of weeds and I always put it on top, so I have less work weeding. This year I will test adding a tablespoon of ground egg shells(calcium) and a tablespoon of Epsom salt for magnesium. 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. I will post the recipes and photos in May, when we make some.

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VARIETIES WE LOVE:

RED: Bull’s Heart,
BLACK/BROWN: Black Cherry, Aunt Ginny’s Purple,
GREEN:Green Zebra, Aunt Ruby’s German Green

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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.

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SUPPORT:

Your tomatoes will need 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 disease! You can use tomato cages too or any kind of DIY support you can think of ­čÖé

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TOMATOES LOVE:

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.

TOMATOES HATE:

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.

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