Tips

Still time for tomatoes

Roma-tomato

In December there’s still time to sow a new crop of tomatoes. In fact, because the soil is warm, tomato seeds can be sown direct into garden beds; the young plants will leap into growth. In cooler areas it’s best to choose the small-growing tomatoes – like Tiny Tim or Small Fry – or fast producers such as Roma (pictured) that will mature before the cold weather arrives.

If you’re short of space, remember that tomatoes grow happily in a good-sized pot. There’s another advantage of pot culture, too: tomatoes are susceptible to soil-dwelling diseases so should be grown in fresh soil each year. But it can be a challenge to find a new bed for every crop. Pots filled with fresh potting mix (always use a top quality mix like Yates Professional) allow you to have the equivalent of a new garden bed for each season.

Yates Tuscan Edge pots are described as ‘self-watering’ because of their moisture-holding well in the base. This reserve of water stretches the length of time between waterings. If your busy life means that you occasionally forget to water, these pots will always be much more forgiving.

Yates Grow Your Own pots offer another alternative. These 200mm pots come complete with their own potting mix, fertiliser and seeds for the small-growing Tiny Tim tomato. They’re ideal for a balcony garden or anywhere space is limited.

Generously-fed tomatoes will produce bumper crops. Start by adding extra organic matter to the soil before planting. Compost is good, or some well-aged manure. Don’t use anything too fresh as it can burn tender roots. A base fertiliser, such as blood and bone or Dynamic Lifter pellets, can be incorporated into the soil as well. Yates Dynamic Lifter Advanced for Tomatoes is enhanced with added nutrients that promote plant health and generous cropping. As the seedlings grow, regularly apply a liquid food such as Thrive, Aquasol or Nature’s Way Fish Emulsion (ideally every two weeks).

Summer is pest season, so watch for the hordes that will want to attack your precious tomatoes. Whitefly is a tiny, (you guessed it) white, flying, mini-moth-looking insect that adores sucking the sap out of tomato leaves. It hides under the leaves and is always accompanied by dozens – even hundreds – of eggs that will soon hatch out into more flies. Whiteflies are often described as ‘vectors’ of disease. This means that they move problems from one plant to another. When the insects break open the cells to feed on the plant sugars, they pick up disease spores from affected plants that they then spread to other plants. Control whiteflies by sprinkling Yates Tomato Dust (remember to dust as thoroughly as possible under the leaves as well as on top). Tomato dust will also help prevent some disease infection.

Tomato caterpillar is a large, usually green, grub that eats its way into the tomato. Fortunately it’s relatively easy to control with Yates Success. In fruit-fly-prone areas protect tomatoes by using Yates Nature’s Way Fruit Fly Control.

View Yates tomato seed range



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