Still time for tomatoes


In December, in all but the coldest areas, 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 regions 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 or want to take advantage of a particularly warm spot, remember that tomatoes grow happily in a good-sized pot. There’s another upside to pot culture, too: because tomatoes are susceptible to soil-dwelling diseases they 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 be very forgiving.

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. As the seedlings grow, regularly apply a liquid food such as Thrive, Nitrosol or Nature’s Way Fish Emulsion (ideally every two weeks). Yates Thrive Flower & Fruit is balanced to promote good growth and generous production. It includes an extra ration of potassium that enhances disease resistance.

Yates fertiliser range also includes a liquid form of Thrive that is specially formulated for tomatoes

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) or by spraying with Yates Nature’s Way Fruit & Vegie Gun. Tomato dust will also help prevent some disease infection.

Tomato caterpillar is green grub that eats its way into the tomato. Fortunately it’s relatively easy to control with Yates Success.

Sunken brown patches on the base of the fruit are symptoms of blossom end rot, which is caused by the plant’s inability to take up calcium. Add lime before planting and keep plants well watered.

View Yates Tomato seed range


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