Tomatoes need sun and soil rich in organic matter. Grow from seed or plant seedlings 30-45cm apart. Seedlings are best planted deep in the soil with the top four leaves just above the surface. This helps develop a strong root system. A layer of mulch will keep the soil cool, conserve moisture and discourage weeds. Water the root area thoroughly and regularly, avoiding water on leaves. Fertilise with a specially formulated tomato fertiliser according to instructions or a fertiliser granules for vegetable gardens. For the best flavour, allow tomatoes to ripen on the vine.
There are two types of tomato plants – bush varieties and trellis varieties. Bush varieties should be staked or grown in a cage, and as the plant grows, tied to the support with soft string. Bush varieties include ‘Floridade’ which has been bred to withstand high temperatures, ‘Heinz’ which has flat and round fruit, ‘Oxheart’ extra large fruit and ‘Roma’ with its recognisably oblong fruit.
Tomato varieties better suited to a trellis or wigwam, include the popular ‘Moneymaker’, which has medium size flavourful fruit borne on heavy trusses. ‘Brandywine’ is a popular heirloom variety which dates back to the late 1800s with large reddish-pink fruits, rich in flavour.
Cherry tomatoes produce small fruit, ideal for salads. Seed sown in spring and summer will germinate in 7 to 14 days and harvesting begins in 70 to 80 days. Cherry tomatoes can also be grown in large pots and trained on a wigwam or trellis. Nip off the growing point when it has reached the desired height.
‘Cherry Yellow Pear’ are small heirloom tomatoes borne in clusters and can be grown in pots, hanging baskets or up a trellis. ‘Bite Size’ has small round red fruit, and ‘Sweet’ cherry tomato is ideal for growing in pots.S