Choosing Tomato seeds
There are many ways to include tomatoes in your landscape, even on a balcony, patio or rooftop. There are a wide variety of tomatoes to choose from that suit many different conditions.
Have you always wanted to grow tomatoes but think you don’t have the right environment? Or do you love the idea of growing tomatoes but have never tried?
Tomatoes are easy to grow if you choose a variety suited to your situation and climate and follow a few necessary steps.
First, distinguish whether you want a determinate or indeterminate (or cordon) tomato.
Indeterminate tomatoes grow all season without reaching a final height and need to be staked or tied up. They are taller and produce many flower bracts for fruit all season. Indeterminates are best grown in the ground where they have room.
Determinate Tomatoes grow to a determined height and produce one full crop of tomatoes that ripen at the same time. Determinates are excellent patio and container varieties for people with small growing spaces.
There are also many words to describe what size and shape a tomato is. For example, Cherry tomatoes are smaller, often bite-sized tomatoes and Romas have a distinctive long shape.
Tomatoes are a heat-loving crop and are not tolerant of cooler weather. They do however need to be started in February to achieve fruit in the early summer. I recommend planting tomatoes as early as you can, particularly if you are not growing under cover, to avoid late ripening tomatoes that are more susceptible to blight.
Start seeds in a good organic seed medium and place them on bottom heat mats. Cover with a dome to keep the soil medium moist until germination.
Tomato seedlings grow very slowly and it is best not to transplant them until they have three sets of true leaves.
If you have not included worm castings in your seed mix, be sure to give them a seaweed feed when the first true leaves have formed.
After the seedlings have been transplanted, they will grow more quickly and will continue to need bottom heat until the last deep frost.
When you finally plant them out into containers or in the ground, give them a comprehensive organic amendment mix that includes bone meal.
Tomatoes also do well when companion planted with Basil and French Marigolds.
Some of my favourite tomato varieties are:
Black Cherry-a hardy variety from Siberia. Black Cherry is indeterminate and is the only tomato in our 2007 trials that produced sweet fruit without an extended hot period that summer.
Gardener’s Delight- a sweet, red, indeterminate cherry tomato that crops reliably throughout the summer. It is also a low acid variety.
Hardy Red Cherry- a sweet hardy tomato that is good for smaller spaces and lasts well into the fall without splitting.
Brandywine- a large pinky-red, indeterminate tomato. Often referred to as the ugly tomato because the shoulders grow over. This tomato is so delicious and is a real treat in mid summer when we often have tomato slices big enough to fit a whole slice of bread.
Patio- a sweet, fruity, red determinate tomato that is short and perfect for containers. These grew really well in my SunPod Signature last summer.
Copy and Photos 2007-2018 by Rachel Lloyd