How To Grow Organic Tomatoes

 

Tomatoes are an upright, green, annual plant to around 2m tall, with juicy, red (sometimes yellow) tasty fruit. This is probably the most popular home grown vegetable. Dwarf varieties are also available, that make good container plants.


Growing conditions:

Tomatoes are warm season plant that need a growing season of 14 weeks or more. They are frost tender. They prefer full sun, and protection from strong winds.

 

Culture:

Tomatoes respond well to feeding, particularly with phosphorus. Avoid excessive nitrogen. They are adaptable to soil type as long as it is well drained and structured. They do best on raised beds, or in sandy soils. Incorporate plenty of well-decomposed compost or manure into the soil prior to planting. Planting early may cause crop failure. Planting late reduces
crop size. Crop rotation is very important.

Staking or some other means of support is necessary for taller varieties.

Companion plants:

Tomatoes grow well with asparagus, basil, borage, bee balm (Bergamot), alliums (e.g. onion and garlic), carrot, parsley, marigolds, mint, sage, thyme, lemon balm, nasturtiums and asparagus.

Thyme and peppermint are said to help control white fly.

Avoid planting beside corn, beetroot, dill, fennel or apricots.

Tomatoes, asparagus and basil together, make a good combination.

Propagation:

Plant in spring as soon as frosts end, or grow seed under cover in late winter to early spring, and transplant the seedlings out once the danger of frosts has passed. Planting distance will depend on variety. Taller varieties should be at least 50-60cm apart, smaller ones 30-40cm apart in rows. Rows should be at least 90cm apart.

Pest and disease problems:

Tomatoes are prone to a large range of pests and diseases. Some include birds, aphis, mites, fruit fly, leaf miner, white fly, corn earworm, potato beetle and nematodes. Diseases include rots, anthracnose, bacterial canker, spot, blight, fusarium and verticillium wilt, leaf mould and viruses.

 

Uses:

Popularly used as a salad vegetable, or can be cooked for use in soups, sauces, etc. 6-12plants per planting per family.

 

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