It’s time to get tomato beds ready for a fruitful season ahead. Labour weekend is peak planting time for tomatoes in New Zealand, sooner for greenhouse growers and gardeners in the warmer north.
It’s risky to plant frost tender plants outdoors too soon but its important to make the most of summer by getting plants in as soon as the warm weather. Prepare a warm sheltered spot with as much sun as possible, good drainage and added compost. Your tomatoes will need a non-stop supply of water and nutrients.
Whether you grow you tomatoes in the garden soil or large grow bags, most tomato varieties need a support structure or stakes installed at planting time to avoid damaging the roots later. Most are tall growing and ‘indeterminate’, which means they will keep growing, flowering and fruiting until stopped by frost. Those which quickly grow to a finished height then produce a big crop of fruit all at once are known as determinate varieties. Vigorous grafted plants need strong support structures.
Have fun planning the varieties you want to grow and maybe even start your own plants from seed ready to plant out as soon as the risk of frost has passed. Pick your favourites fromgarden centre's selection of premium tomato varieties arriving in stores now. Trying different varieties is a good way to work out which ones grow best for you.
Cherry-sized with a burst of sweetness when eaten, these are the ultimate snack tomato for lunch boxes, salads and platters. As healthy party food, team a cherry tomato with mozzarella and a basil leaf on a cocktail stick.
Cocktail tomatoes are a little larger than a cherry tomato, with attractive fruit produced in trusses. Eat them raw or grill them on the truss for an impressive brunch plate. They make a brilliant pizza toppings too.
Heirloom tomatoes are those that have been passed down through generations. These tasty treasures come in an enticing array of interesting colours and shapes.
Hybrids bred for their super high yields and disease resistance, these tasty all-rounders are reliable performers in most climates, good to grow for eating raw or cooked with plenty for the freezer.
Generally known as the ‘beefsteak’ tomatoes, these beauties intrigue with their size and quirky irregular shapes. They’re fleshy and full flavoured, good for cooking or eating fresh. One slice covers a slice of toast.
Many tomato plants come grafted onto disease resistant rootstock to boost vigour and heavy cropping. Grafted plants offer a long and prolific fruiting season and excellent disease resistance.
Sow tomato seed into clean trays filled with good quality seed raising mix. A seed tray at no more than 4 to 5cm depth allows a warmer seed bed for faster germination. A week or two after germination, when seedlings are about 5cm tall, transplant them into individual pots. Protect seedlings from the cold until it’s warm enough to plant outdoors.
Tomato seedlings for sale
Home grown tomato seedlings