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Tomato Time

There is much joy to be had in picking sun-ripened, richly flavoured sweet tomatoes from your own garden. Linda Ross shares her tried and trusted tips and techniques.

Tomato types

1. Cherry tomatoes colour up salads. Try ‘Black Cherry’, ‘Tommy Toe’, ‘Red Pear’ and ‘Yellow Pear’. When well fed they grow 2m high and wide so allow room. Harvest 7-11kg per plant over 3 months.

2. Sandwich tomatoes are big and juicy. Try ‘Black Krim’, 'Costoluto Fiorentino' and ‘Oxheart’. Fruit (8-12kg per plant) ripens at once.

3. Egg-shaped tomatoes are best for cooking. ‘San Marzano’ is longer and sweeter than ‘Roma’.


Photo - Shebeko/

Tomato techniques

1. Teepee: tie 6 x 3m stakes at the top to make a wigwam. Plant up with tomatoes, beans and cucumbers, which all grow harmoniously together. Use the central shaded area in the middle for summer lettuce.

2. Boxed up: make 1m x 1m squares of bamboo with four corner posts and four horizontal rails to help support the fruit-laden branches of bush tomatoes.

3. Flat out: make 2.5m high tepee tunnel with tomato stakes. Plant with climbing beans on one side and climbing tomatoes on the other. Plant tomatoes at 1.5m centres and train them horizontally for maximum sun exposure. Plant the inside of the tunnel with salad greens.


Tomato tips

1. Improve soil two weeks before planting by digging in garden lime, Dynamic Lifter, cow manure, blood and bone, and potash as per directions on the back on the packs.

2. Allow a day to build the growing frame. Set stakes at least 50cm into the soil and anchor to star pickets in high wind areas. Insert a 75cm length of agline pipe, on an angle, at each planting spot. This will allow for effective watering of the root system.

3. Water regularly. Add seaweed solution once a fortnight until flowering, then switch to either homemade comfrey tea, or a commercial liquid fertiliser. Both will promote flowering and fruiting.


Beat fruit fly

1. For pest exclusion use netting draped over rounded pvc pipes.

2. Alternatively, use fruit fly lures such as Eco-Naturalure, following directions closely. 


Text: Linda Ross

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Author: Linda Ross