Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Growing Tomatoes

One of my favourite plants in the garden is the Tomato. I've grown Tomatoes a few times now so I'm becoming familiar with their ways, but as I've discovered there's always more to learn.
When the weather started warming up in spring I noticed a number of tomatoes popping up which had self- seeded from the previous year. Great! No need to buy Tomato seedlings this year. So instead I decided to splash out on a bag of Tomato compost ($14 - Ouch!) and some Tomato fertiliser ($10).
So I dug up all the homegrown seedlings from various places around the garden and prepared the tomato bed for planting by loosening up all the soil. I then gave it all a general dressing of the fertiliser. Then it was time to plant the seedlings so I made a hole for each seedling about 10-12cm diameter and filled it with Tomato mix and planted directly into it.
I counted more than 25 seedlings so I knew I would either run out of space or of tomato compost before I'd planted them all, so I selected the most vigourous ones first. (Planting date: Nov 7)
Here are a few snaps of how they've done since then up until the other day...
I've been making a point of plucking out the laterals as they grow which encourages better fruiting and restricts their growth to one central trunk, meaning they grow upwards not outwards. This would be important as I realised I'd probably planted them too close together. Anyway, the plants are now as high as me and I'm nearly 6'3" (187cm). As you can see I've staked them pretty firmly.
If there's one lesson I learned this year with my tomatoes, it's not to be too stingey when it comes to buying seedlings. Although I thought I was pretty clever not having to buy seedlings, the trouble with self seeded tomatoes is that you never know what you're actually growing. I had no clue what varieties I was growing. As it turns out they're my least favourite variety and they seem to be all the same. And although the fruit appear to be forming nicely, my recollection of this variety is that the fruit is small and the skins are rather tough.
Anyway it's all good fun and rather satisfying. I'm sure we'll at least have something to bottle.


  1. Nice tomato plants, you got!

    If you didn't see what I wrote to brother Tony, I have a 'taco' sauce; I make with tomatoes which quite good. Email me at; if you want the recipe!

    Tomatoes here are $3.99 (USD) a pound here because there was about 3 freezes here which is really bad for tomatoes and other crops that Florida-USA grows.

  2. Taco Sauce sounds like a great idea for the tomatoes!

    USD$3.99/pound works out to NZ$11.46/Kg which is more expensive than we normally pay for Tomatoes in the middle of winter (We'd normally pay about NZ$9/Kg max.)
    At the moment it's Tomato season here so the price has dropped to about NZ$2/Kg which is about USD$0.70/pound.

    It makes me wonder if I should build a green house...

  3. Boy that sure is expensive Jonno. Great looking tomatoes Dave. I did the same one year & ended up with a real mystery crop. I think a lot seeded from some of the winter's shop bought ones from the compost. I tried not pruning the laterals, big mistake as they stayed low growing & so much of the fruit hung down into the dirt. I have one self seeded one in amongst the lettuces at the moment & it hasn't produced any fruit yet, in flower at the moment.

    I planted 6 seedlings of a variety that I can't remember off the top of my head & while they are a bush tomato I have still pruned out the laterals. They haven't got real tall but are loaded with fruit. Can't wait till they ripen. I didn't plant as many this year as I did last year. We were over run with them (70kg) Gave lots away & still have heaps of homemade pasta sauce & relish in the pantry. Nothing beats homegrown Toms, I love em

  4. And Jonno's Taco sauce is going to get a test run this season too...

  5. Wow 70 Kg of Tomatoes? How many plants did you put in? I took a bit of a count the other day because they've gone wild everywhere. I counted 50 plants altogether. Do you think I might have gone a bit over the top?

  6. BTW Tony, I still laugh every time I think about your jar of Salsa story.