Tomatoes are one of the most satisfying vegetables to grow because firstly, they are easy to grow and secondly they are a versitile vegetable (or fruit) to cook with. Tomatoes grow easily from seed, however you can buy them as seedlings if you like. If you don’t have a plot of ground available at your place then a large pot will do brilliantly. I grew four plants in a large pot on our deck and yeilded at least 30 large tomatoes..
There are many varieties of tomatoes that are particularly great for children to grow. The cherry and grape tomatoes are the tiny ones and these are also great for lunchboxes. There are also interesting varieties that are disease resistant and ones don’t make your sandwiches go soggy!! Who would have thought?!
1. You will need a plot of ground or a large pot. The place where you will grow the tomatoes will need to get full sun for at least 5 hours each day.
2. Prepare the ground by adding manure and lime. Or add potting mix to the pot.
3. Buy seeds or seedlings. On the back of the packet of seeds it will tell you when and how to plant the seeds – use this as a guide. Generally, tomato seeds are planted in Spring.
4. Place a stake or tall stick into the ground or pot. Plant about 4-5 seeds in one hole or one seedling next to the stake. As the plant grows, you can tie string around the plant and stake in a figure-8. Tomatoes need support as it grows otherwise the tomatoes become too heavy for the plant and it falls over.
5. Gently water the seeds/seedlings. You could also water in with a seaweed solution to give the plants and extra boost. As the plant grows continue to water it so that it doesn’t dry out.
Taking Care of your Tomato Plants
1. A little trick my Grandmother taught me was: if you want large tomatoes, then pinch out the off-shoots that grow between the branches. But if you want many smaller tomatoes, then leave the offshoots to grow.
2. Keep pests away by plucking them off the plant and giving to the birds or chickens. Plant marigold flowers nearby to repell pests.
3. Place mulch around the base of the plants to keep the ground moist and reduce the need to water.
4. Try not to get water on the leaves otherwise they may go mildewy. Simply water at the base of the plants. Check first to see if the soil needs to be watered. If it is already moist then there is no need to add more water. Once a fortnight, water with a seaweed solution to help feed the plant nutrients it will need to produce the tomato fruits.
5. You now need to watch to see if there are any bees around to help pollinate the flowers. If there are no sign of bees then you may need to brush some of the pollin around the flower.
What to Do with your Tomato Harvest
This is the fun part. Naturally, you can eat them straight off the plant or add them to your salads. Here are some other ideas:
Carmelised Tomatoes on Toast
Roasted Tomato Soup
Tomato and Eggplant Curry
Sundried Tomato and Fetta Muffins
Tomato and Herb Side Dish
So let’s get to it…..enjoy the experience of growing you very own tomatoes but most importantly enjoy the TASTE that only comes from home-grown tomatoes – your taste buds will love you for it!
I will be adding the recipes to some of the tomato ideas above so stay tuned for updates. You can sign up for updates, if you like.