tomatoes are the tastiest and they are very easy to grow from
either seed or seedlings, provided you follow our simple,
Tomato seeds or seedlings
Searles® Seed Raising mix for seed-growing
Shallow pots or trays for seed-growing
SeaMax® Fish & Kelp
Stakes and string or other binding material
Searles 5in1 or Real Compost
Add one barrowload of 5 in 1®, Real Compost or animal
manure per square metre to growing area and dig thoroughly
into soil. Sprinkle with garden lime at the rate of one handful
per square metre. Mulch thoroughly. Raised beds are usually
best unless soil is naturally very well drained.
Beds can be built up from layers of organic material topped
with compost or potting mix into which seeds or seedlings
are planted. One method is to make a newspaper base to suppress
weeds and then add successive layers of lucerne or cane trash,
animal manure, straw, another layer of animal manure and well-made,
mature compost into which seeds are planted. Each layer is
about 20 cm thick and must be watered. Sides can be left open
or contained by boards or wire mesh.
Growing from seed
Use a proprietary Searles® Seed Raising mix and make shallow
holes about 0.5 cm deep and 10 cm apart. Cover lightly with
the mix, firming it down and watering gently. Thin out seedlings
to 3cm apart when they are 2cm high. Plant out when about
4 weeks old and the same size as bought seedlings.
Growing from seedlings
In hot weather plant out in the late afternoon or evening;
about 50 cm apart in rows 1.2 metres apart. Set roots firmly
in place, leaving plenty of top growth above the surface and
removing any leaves which might be buried. Dose each plant
with a dilute application of SeaMax® Fish
& Kelp to promote strong root growth. Put 2m stakes next to each,
train 1 or 2 shoots up the stake and secure with a soft binding
material tied loosely round the stem but not right under the
leaf. An alternative to single stakes are three stakes in
a teepee shape.
Give plants a good soaking around the roots every other day,
keeping the soil slightly moist below the surface. In extremely
hot weather watering once or even twice a day may be necessary;
heat stress is shown by wilting. Overwatering can cause root
rot. A perforated soaker hose or trickle/drip irrigation system
Keep soil healthy with regular mulching and applications of
5 in 1® or Real Compost and/or animal manures. Tomatoes
will grow very well in a healthy soil that is rich in nutrients,
particularly if boosted with applications of SeaMax® Fish
& Kelp to the leaves and soil.
Not strictly necessary but occasional pruning of top growth
will encourage a low, bushy plant.
Most common pests can be kept at bay with an all-purpose organic
spray such as Beat-A-Bug. Dipel controls many types of insect
larvae. For specific problems, identify the pest and ask your
garden centre for advice. Always try organic solutions rather
than chemical solutions. Fruit can be covered by paper bags
just before it starts to colour up. Fly paper attached to
stakes and fruit-fly baits can also reduce pest numbers.
Look for resistant cultivars. Most common diseases are wilts,
rots, spots and viruses. All require good garden practices
such as removing infected plants, controlling weeds and not
watering fruit and foliage. Visible signs are blotches on
fruit and/or leaves, wilting of leaves or whole plant, unsightly
patterns on fruit, leaf-yellowing or distortion, sudden collapse
of plant. Most common prevention and control methods are copper-based
fungicidal dusts and spray of Mancozeb, but seek advice from
your garden centre, taking a specimen of the problem with
Happy Gardening with Searles from the Searle family.
© Copyright 2002 JC & AT
Searle Pty Ltd
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