Tomatoes

Tomatoes grow easily year-round in my subtropical corner of the world. They prefer warm weather with lots of water however they are an incredibly resilient fruit which has earned them their place as a kitchen staple. As such there is roughly more than ten thousand varieties of tomato cultivators each with their own little nuances. In general tomatoes can be categorised as either determinate or indeterminate.

Determinate tomato varieties are busy type varieties that don’t need a trellis (although can still benefit from one). They usually grow 2-3ft tall and then set flower and fruit before dying.

Indeterminate tomatoes are vining varieties that require the support of a cage or trellis. Indeterminate tomatoes keep growing until the frost kills them giving a longer fruiting season.

Growing conditions:

Tomatoes benefit from being started in a seed tray so they can be planted deeply once established. Tomatoes can set out roots from almost any part of their stem which means when deeply planted they will spread the roots further creating a strong stable base for the plant to thrive from. It’s not uncommon for those who practice deep planting to bury an assortment of nutritionally relevant things such as egg shells for calcium, fish heads for protein, nitrogen and nutrients, worm castings, leaves and even aspirin.

Companion Planting

There are many thoughts on what plants to companion plant with tomatoes. Whether they improve growth or reduce pests is not entirely clear although many people swear by it. They are believed to work by plants offering different needs for other plants, such as shade, pest deterence (or sacrificial pest attraction), improved flavour and so on.

Common companion plants include

  • Basil
  • Nasturtiums
  • Carrot
  • Marigold
  • Lettuce
  • Borage

Pests and Diseases

Blossom End Rot

Tomatoes require consistent watering and calcium to avoid blossom end rot which is when the bottom of the fruit turns black and rots. A common source of calcium to avoid this issue is crumbled egg shells. Ollas can be put in place if inconsistent watering is the cause.

Fruit Piercing Moths

During bad outbreak years I have seen Fruit Piercing Moths sucking the juices from my nearly ripe tomatoes. Bagging the fruit seems to be enough to deter them, at least when there was other food sources available to them.

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