Growing tomatoes in the Western Australian climate is so simple anyone can do it. In temperate climates like Western Australia seeds can be planted from August to December providing tomatoes through summer and into autumn. There are a number of reasons why you should grow your own tomatoes however taste is the biggest advantage of growing your own tomatoes. Tree-ripened tomatoes have a higher content of sugars and if you fertilise them with a potassium-based fertiliser, they taste sensational.
Tomatoes can be planted in the ground or in pots. If room permits, the ground is ideal, however if it’s a courtyard or balcony, pots will be suitable also.
Cherry and grape tomatoes grow particularly well in pots but still need support so they do not fall over. Larger tomatoes such as Grosse Lisse are better in the ground as their root system is extensive and they are a larger bushy variety. The main advantage of growing tomatoes in pots is that you can change the potting mix every year. Tomatoes should be placed in full sun so growing them in pots will also allow you to move them to the location which has the most sun.
Never plant tomato bushes in the same spot two years running as they will get diseased.
As with all planting, it is important to improve the soil. In Western Australia it is typically recommended that you add white or grey sand or even bentonite clay to improve the texture of the soil. Tomatoes which are planted in pots should filled with a premium-quality potting mix for best results.
Seed Vs Seedling:
Tomatoes grow so easily from seed, and the variety available is much more extensive and all the heritage varieties are available from seed but few are in seedling stock. The main benefit of planting from seeding is obviously the time for the plant to fully mature is shorter. However if you plant from seed you can stagger you planting which means they will mature at different rates instead of having all your tomatoes ripen at the same time.
Check your tomatoes at least twice a week and spend time looking for problems such as insects and diseases. To stop pest attack, it is recommended to plant garlic or basil and dusting monthly with sulfur.
One common mistake is to over-fertilised tomatoes with nitrogen, giving lush growth but this comes at the expense of fruit.
It is recommended that you fertilise with a granular high-potassium blend at planting and liquid-fertilise every two weeks with a product such as Seasol or Powerfeed. Seasol is a tonic which helps create a strong and healthy root system, which is vital for strong tomato plants.
Stake up your tomatoes so they can get plenty of sunlight.
Tomatoes should be planted at the end of summer for autumn fruit and at the end of winter for spring fruit. The best time to pick your tomato is when it has coloured fully, but before the fruit gets soft to touch.
If you have any tips and tricks for growing tomatoes then feel free to leave them in the comments section below.