Tomatoes in abundance but they need some soil preparation

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By GEOFF MIERS

Tomatoes are a very high yielding crop for the home garden and there are many varieties available today. However, it is important to follow a few simple rules to ensure your success.

Planting tomatoes now will ensure high yields provided proper soil preparation is undertaken and protection provided as needed against late frosts which could stunt growth in early spring.

Remember that most varieties of tomatoes rarely bear fruit when temperatures exceed 36 degrees. By planting now, the tomato plants will have ripened enough to flower and bear fruit before the days get hot.

Temperatures above 36 degrees are commonplace once late spring or summer arrives. The secret is to have well-developed plants that flower before high temperatures become the norm.

Of all the vegetables, the tomato is the most popular variety of vegetables found in home gardens. A high-yielding tomato plant brings so much joy to the home gardener, with each plant capable of producing up to 10 kilograms of produce in one season.

A good plot of tomatoes will provide daily fresh produce and a surplus that you can dry, store or turn into tomato sauce or other tomato-related products.

Propagating tomato plants from seeds should be an immediate priority to ensure plants have time to germinate, grow, mature and flower before warm weather arrives.

Planting seeds is the most economical way, tomato seeds will germinate easily if the instructions are followed and there are many varieties of tomatoes that can only be grown from seeds as some varieties are not usually grown commercially and sold as seedlings.

Alternatively, especially if you are impatient and want an instant garden, buy a tray of seedlings, this will give you four to six plants. With seedlings you are guaranteed instant plants and can carefully plan your garden.

Tomato seedlings planted at this time of year may need some protection for a few weeks if frosts are forecast. Check the weather forecast regularly and if frosts are forecast, place a frost protection sheet or cardboard boxes over the plants on nights when frosts are forecast. This will provide sufficient protection.

Alternatively, cut out a 40 x 40cm piece of cardboard and fold it so that it is curved and place this square of cardboard halfway through the seedling on the east side of the plant. This cardboard will slow down the thawing process in case of frost preventing the cell structures of plants from bursting and in cold weather it will also have a warming effect promoting early growth of plants.

Alternatively, you can choose to buy premium potting soil and plant your seedlings in pots that can be moved and even brought indoors at night until the frosts have passed. Remember that on average August can have up to nine frosts and September one to three frosts.

Tomatoes grow well in light and heavy soils provided the soil has good drainage, lots of organic content to improve soil structure, and / or of course enough water and food.

Phosphorus and calcium are the most important nutrients, as their lack at the seedling stage will reduce yields and can lead to blossom end rot. How many times have you grown tomatoes only to see the fruit spoiled by a rot at the base of the fruit?

When making a bed for tomatoes, mix the soil with a good organic fertilizer and a mixture of well-rotted compost or other organic content. A thin line of super phosphate / calcium placed 10 centimeters below where the plants are to be grown will help eliminate blossom end rot.

With a suitable base fertilizer applied before planting, no further fertilizer should be needed until the first flowers appear. A weekly dose of potash for four weeks should be applied to ensure good flowering, fruit set and quality fruit.

Some gardeners, however, like to apply potash at the stage of planting the seedlings and again when the plants are flowering.

Alternatively, some gardeners like to apply a specific tomato food every four weeks as the plants grow.

A tablespoon of tomato food applied and watered every four weeks will certainly produce results, but you need to be consistent with your application. Forget it and your tomato plants will suffer.

Remember that when planting tall growing varieties of tomatoes, you need to provide a stake up to two meters high at the planting stage, which allows you to train and tie the vine to the stake. For bush varieties, staking is largely unnecessary. Set up your stakes either before planting or immediately after planting, this way you won’t damage the new roots produced by the tomato plants.

Today there are so many varieties of tomatoes to choose from. Grosse Lisse has traditionally been the most popular tall growing staking variety, Roma is an excellent bush tomato and the very popular Cherry, Tiny Tim or Tommy Toe, all small cherry tomatoes, are proven high yielding varieties.

Cherry tomatoes are also largely unattractive to the fruit fly, a big advantage over the larger varieties.

The Improved Apollo is an ideal early maturing variety that usually guarantees very high yields. Over the past couple of years, it’s not been uncommon for people to tell me that they’ve achieved yields of up to 15kg per plant.

Burnley Bounty is also a good cold tolerant early planting variety capable of being planted through the winter months.

Mighty Red is a high yielding picket variety, an alternative to Grosse Lisse, and is an excellent strain for arid zone climates, and of course you have a wide range of heirloom species, a popular variety being the Russian. noir. Most people who experience Black Russian continue to cultivate them all their lives.

Check out your local nursery, they should have plenty of varieties available over the next few weeks.

Tomatoes planted now will give you a lot of joy, produce high yields, and save you from disappointments when planting later in the season when temperatures are high and yields are guaranteed to be low.


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