Tomatoes are a summer favourite for Kiwis to grow! Versatile in cooking and a tasty snack straight off the vine, tomatoes come in a range of colours, shapes and sizes. Choosing a variety can be the hardest part!
Maria loves creating in the kitchen with fresh tomatoes for summer entertaining, while her two daughters enjoy picking sun ripened cherry tomatoes while outside. So they’re a must-have in their spring vege patch!
Choosing a variety
Whether growing from seed or seedlings, there’s a huge range of varieties to choose from. Think about how you eat and cook with tomatoes, along with the amount of space you have. There are dwarf varieties available which are perfect for pots.
Maria is planting in her raised garden bed and has chosen the below varieties to suit her space, family tastes and to spread her harvest season.
- Beefsteak - a reliable classic full of flavour producing large fruit. A sandwich must-have!
- Sunshine 100 – for a pop of colour in the garden and on the plate! A vigorous grower that produces small yellow bite sized fruit that are low in acid.
- Sweet 100 – a staple ‘cherry tomato’ loved for its abundance of small, sweet and juicy tomatoes perfect for salads, summer snacking and the kids!
- Early Girl to ensure a supply early on in summer. Early Girl is a good all-rounder with its tasty, dark red, medium-sized fruit.
- Russian Red – hardy, reliable and a heavy cropper with great flavour. Maria will use these harvests for her preserving and pickling to use over the cooler months.
Planting your tomatoes
It’s best practice not to plant tomatoes in the same spot as last season, or in the same spot as potatoes were planted as diseases can remain in the soil. Maria has rotated her garden beds and will be growing tomatoes in the patch that was home to her salad greens.
- Choose a sunny spot and prepare your soil well with compost or Tui Sheep Pellets.
- Add a layer of Tui Tomato Mix to plant into.
- Feed your tomatoes every four weeks to replenish nutrients with Tui Tomato Food or Tui Performance Organics Tomato & Vege fertiliser pellets (suitable for pots and containers)
- Water well after planting.
Grouping certain plants together can help them to grow better and deter insect pests. Ideal companion plants for tomatoes include basil, marigold, carrots, celery, parsley and chives.
TOP TOMATO CARE
As her tomatoes grow, Maria will remove the laterals to encourage bigger and better fruit. Laterals are the shoots that grow out from the side of the stem.
Every summer Maria's daughters try to beat the birds to their crop as they also love juicy tomatoes! Once the plants have started flowering they will put up netting to protect their fruit.
Twice a month, in between fertiliser feedings Maria will apply Tui Organic Seaweed Plant Tonic to promote healthy growth and help plants handle fluctuations in temperature.
To reduce the chance of blight, avoid watering the leaves of your tomato plants. Water the soil deeply a few times a week rather than a little each day.
Try Maria's favourite harvest recipe - Chilli & Tomato Jam with your bumper crop of homegrown tomatoes.