Growing Beautiful Tomatoes – Naturally
Tomatoes are known as one of the simplest fruits to grow and although there is a lot of information available on how to get conditions perfect, it is not 100% necessary to get too technical. You basically have two choices… you either do endless research and turn it into a science, or you follow a few simple steps given by somebody with some experience, like me.
Step 1 – Seed or plant?
First you have to decide if you want to grow your tomatoes from tomato plants or from seeds. It is obviously a lot easier to use plants but it is not always possible to find good heirloom plants – and the last thing you want to do is grow some of those genetically modified tomatoes with a long shelf life. They are tasteless, and just like McDonald’s burgers – they never seem to go off. That can’t be good. If you decide to go the seed route, you have to use peat pots to let the seeds sprout and grow into plants before transplanting into the garden. This takes about 6 weeks and all I did was follow the instructions on the seed packet.
Step 2 – Find a spot
Choosing the right spot to plant your tomato plant is simple:
• The spot has to get ample sunlight
• If the soil is very wet, create mounds of around 15cm and plant in there
• If the soil is very dry, make a depression and plant in there
• Give about a meter space for each plant
• Plant near borage or calendula, if possible, to avoid tomato bugs
• If planted near a basil plant, the flavour will be enhanced
• Don’t plant near fennel or corn
Step 3 – Watering is important
For the first ten days or so tomato plants need about half a litre of water per day. Water the plants two to three times a day.
Step 4 – Support your plants
Put stakes that are about a meter high in. Once it starts growing, gently tie the plant to the stake. One plant may end up needing several stakes.
Step 5 – Pruning and shaking
There are so many opinions flying about when it comes to pruning tomato plants so you will have to decide for yourself. I don’t prune my tomatoes; I’m too busy eating them. However, I do shake my plants gently after flowering once or twice a week. This is meant to distribute pollen evenly. Not sure if that is true but it certainly can’t do harm.
Step 6 – Harvest time
Nothing can explain how wonderful it is when you start seeing the fruit of your efforts when growing your own produce. One word of advice on tomatoes is that you should harvest only when they are completely ripe. The longer you leave your tomatoes outside in nature, the sweeter they will taste.
Step 7 – Enjoy!