by Wally Richards
TOMATO STARTING TIME
August for my money is the start of a new growing season, the daylight hours are increasing every day plus dormant plants and trees are waking up.
Time waits for no-one and so the quicker we get started the better; the sooner we will be rewarded with the fruits of our endeavors. Already garden shops have tomato seedlings in cell packs and individual pots ready for you to grow on.
It’s likely you can find some Sweet One Hundred tomato plants which a plant is a good choice as it produces early a lot of bite size ripe tomatoes which are ideal in your summer salads. Early Girl is another one you are likely to find as it is a medium size early maturing tomato suitable for the home garden.
Now if you have a glasshouse or the equivalent then you are off growing with a smile on your face. A glasshouse protects from the elements but it does not protect from what you do. If your glasshouse is an open soil to grow in, or even a raised garden, you have constructed to grow in then do not be in a hurry to plant your new tomatoes in the cold soil.
If you have a thermometer put it into the soil and see what the temperature is at 5 centimeters deep. Until you have a consistent soil temperature of 10 degrees C (which is the temperature many seeds will germinate at) there is no point of planting the tomatoes into the cold soil.
This is particularly so if the soil is wet. Dry soil will give a higher temperature reading.
But you are impatient, you want to be the first in your circle of friends to have a ripe, new season, home grown tomato.
Ok dig a hole a couple of spade depths and get the motormower out with a catcher on and mow the grass (hopefully the grass is not too wet to mow.) Now stuff the grass clippings into the hole and pack down firmly till it is within about 100mm of the soil level.
Sprinkle about 10mm of soil on top of the grass and then sprinkle Wallys Secret Tomato Food with Neem onto the soil then another 10mm layer of soil over that. Thats about a 80mm hole which you can sit your tomato plant in the middle of and back fill the hole so the trunk of the tomato plant will be buried up to or just beyond the first set of leaves.
The reason for burying the plant deep is because tomatoes will produce more roots up the trunk when buried. A bigger root system will ensure a bigger healthier plant.
Now sprinkle some of Wallys Secret Tomato Food with Neem onto the soil around the plant, but not touching the trunk.
This food will be watered down over time and the Neem Powder will create a smell disguising the tomato plant smell making it more difficult for insect pests to find where to lay their eggs. In fact you could also Spread some of Wallys Neem Tree Granules around over the soil areas to make even a bigger smell barrier.
The heat from the composting grass will warm the soil and speed the growth of your tomatoes.
Also place a stake into the soil near the plant for support later on and on the stake hang one of Wallys Sticky white Fly traps with only one side’s cover peeled off to expose the sticky yellow surface. The still covered other side will rest against the stake.
As your plant grows taller, lift the yellow sticky pad higher so it is always just above the top of the plant. Hang a White fly sticky trap near each vent and door to catch any incoming.
Do all this and with any luck you will have a season without a lot of whitefly problems.
Now if you do not want to make a hole and fill with grass clippings then repot your tomato plants into pots a bit bigger than what they were purchased in; use black pots as they are best for trapping heat.
The reason being is that you don’t want to go into bigger pots too soon and have the danger of over watering and maybe killing the tomato plants. You can keep re-potting into larger size pots as the plants fill the pot with their root system.
Apply the Wallys Secret Tomato with Neem at each stage, in the pot and on top of the mix. The plants will need watering and a little often, during the day is the rule rather than a drench to make the soil colder at night.
If you do not have a glasshouse you can use a sunny porch, conservatory, car port or under the eaves on the north side of the house.
Potting up progressively to bigger size containers is the method for best results. Later on when the season progresses you can plant your potted tomatoes out into a sunny sheltered area of the garden. Likely they will then be about a metre tall and in a large bucket size container.
Using Wallys Neem Tree Granules and Yellow sticky white fly traps out doors will also help reduce insect pest problems.
If you do not have any place to plant your tomato plant, then get a plastic container or plastic rubbish bin than is between 50 litres to 100 litres.
A 200 litre plastic drum cut in half is ideal. But make sure it’s sitting where the plant will spend all summer and autumn as it will be very heavy to move around.
Use Daltons Value Compost as the growing medium.
Apply Wallys secret Tomato Food With Neem to the soil surface every so often or every 4-6 weeks. It has a good amount of potash which will ensure you have great juicy tasting fruit.
If you had problems with the tomato psyllid last season then you need to invest in Wallys Cell Strengthening products to eradicate the pests from your back yard.
Spray your tomato plants with Wally Magic Botanic Liquid (MBL) every week as they are growing to ensure healthy good producing plants.
I mix up the MBL in a one litre trigger spray bottle and leave it sitting near the tomato plants so I can spray them when ever passing if required.
If any insect pests start to get established such as white fly then spay just before sun set with Wallys Super Neem Tree Oil and Super Pyrethrum combined, under and over foliage.
Repeat every 7 days as required.
If you have a worry about blight on your tomatoes then spray them with Wallys Super Copper Nutrient at 5 mil rate and a month later again.
If blight does attack spray the Plants with Perkfection at 7mil rate. When removing laterals only do so on a sunny day when the air is dry. To set fruit on a sunny day tap plants to make them vibrate which sets the fruit.
Ensure that later on when in flower that the medium is kept moist so you do not get blossom end rot.