In cool and temperate regions, delicious tomatoes are sadly coming to the end of their growing season. Hopefully they have given you a bumper crop!
Here’s what to do with your tomato patch:
Remove the remaining fruit and ripen any green tomatoes on a warm windowsill.
Pull the plants out of the soil, roots and all if possible. This will help to reduce the level of tomato pests and diseases that could linger.
Mix some Yates Dynamic Lifter Soil Improver & Plant Fertiliser into the soil. After a busy few months of growing tomatoes, the soil will have become depleted of nutrients and organic matter levels will have declined. Yates Dynamic Lifter is a rich source of concentrated, composted chicken manure, blood and bone, fishmeal and seaweed and will help improve soil health and structure.
Refresh the mulch layer on the soil. Lucerne, pea or sugar can straw is ideal as they help protect the soil from the elements and as they break down add valuable organic matter to the soil.
Choose your next crop! It’s important to practice crop rotation and not plant any vegetables in the same patch that are related to tomatoes, which includes plants like potatoes, capsicum, eggplant, and chillies. Crop rotation helps to minimise the build up of pests and diseases, that can infest plants in the same family. Leafy greens like spinach and silverbeet or brassica crops like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower are fantastic for growing after tomatoes.
Tomatoes for the tropics
As southerners finish off the last of this year’s fresh tomatoes and start dusting off their winter woollies, tropical and sub-tropical gardeners can embark on growing a fresh new crop of home grown, flavour packed tomatoes.
Yates Tomato ‘Summerstar’ is a great variety for warm climate gardeners to grow. It’s been bred to perform well in warm zones and be disease resistant. It’s a hardy tomato that produces generous quantities of smooth- skinned, deep red tasty tomatoes after around 15 weeks from sowing. Yates Tomato Summerstar can be grown in either a sunny garden bed or a container, so balcony and courtyard gardeners don’t need to miss out on this delicious variety. It will need a support to grow on, as the plants can grow up to 1.5 m tall. Round or triangular tomato ‘cages’ are easy to use supports for growing larger varieties of tomatoes in both garden beds and containers.
Summerstar seeds can be sown direct where they are to grow. For best results, work some Yates Dynamic Lifter Soil Improver & Plant Fertiliser into the soil or potting mix first. This adds rich organic matter into the soil which earthworms and soil microorganisms will love and provide the new tomato plants with gentle slow release organic nutrients as they establish.
It will also be beneficial to water some Yates Hydrangea Pinking Liquid Lime & Dolomite over the soil at the time of sowing and again every month during the growing season. This is a rich source of calcium, which helps prevent tomato blossom end rot, which is a condition exacerbated by poor soil calcium levels and irregular soil moisture.
Once the seedlings are established, regularly applying a tomato specific plant food like Yates Thrive Tomato Liquid Plant Food will promote healthy leaf growth as well as lots of flowers that will turn into delicious, juicy tomatoes.
Another variety that can be sown now is Yates Tomato ‘Tommy Toe’, which has excellent tasting apricot sized bright red fruit. It’s a tall grower that must be staked and is best grown out in a sunny vegie patch. It takes around 10 weeks to mature from sowing.
Once the seedlings are established, each week apply a tomato specific plant food, like Yates Thrive Tomato Liquid Plant Food, to help promote healthy leaf growth as well as lots of flowers that will turn into delicious, juicy tomatoes.