Planting tomatoes and cucumbers

Anita Kundu is talking about growing Cucumber, Tomato, Something else from Auckland

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Garden in progress

I am SO busy at the moment that it’s getting harder and harder to blog.  Is anyone else finding this too?  But it’s something that I make time for because I really enjoy writing about what I’ve been doing in the garden.  Today, I decided to focus on planting my largest tomatoes and cucumbers into the garden bed which already contains ones that I planted over Labour Weekend.  Because it takes awhile to set up my work station, I thought that it would be better to focus on just this one task rather than doing bits and pieces.  For this task, I needed compost, Nitrophoska fertiliser, Yates Gro-Plus tomato fertiliser (which I also used for the cucumbers as it’s suitable for other fruiting plants), stakes for the tomatoes, obelisks for the cucumbers, a watering can, a bucket filled with water and a little Yates Thrive Natural Fish and Seaweed Liquid Fertiliser for soaking the plants in prior to planting, string and a pair of scissors (for tying the tomatoes to the stakes).  Tools I needed were the spade and a trowel.  By the time I get everything out, it makes sense to put in quite a few plants rather than to go to all this trouble for just one or two, only to have to then put it all away again!

Cucumbers love to climb, so I decided to use obelisks again, having had success growing them that way in previous seasons.  Varieties I planted today were Beth Alpha (Franchi), Long Green (Yates), Apple (Yates), Bush Crop (McGregors) and Marketer (McGregors).  The tomatoes I put in were ones I purchased as seedlings in Kings Plant Barn’s sale in August.  Varieties put in today included Moneymaker, Potentate, Beefsteak and some unknown types (because the labels came off somehow).  While I was working in the area, I noticed that fruit has started to form on a few of my Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes (see photo).  I am very excited about this development!

In the afternoon, I spent some time tidying up the remainder of my tomato plants, mostly which are still in 10 cm pots. These were the ones I grew from seed.  There are also around a dozen more tomato plants which were purchased from Kings as seedlings.  I won’t get around to planting these in the garden for awhile, until space becomes available. I removed the laterals which had started to develop, as well as the lower leaves (they needed to come off as I plant tomatoes very deeply, to encourage lots of roots to form along the trunk.  They’re also the leaves that are the most prone to disease, as they come into contact with the ground, so it’s a good idea to get rid of them).  In addition to keeping an eye on tomatoes planted in the garden, it’s a good idea to check your potted plants regularly and get into the habit of doing this, so your seedlings concentrate their energy into forming a strong main stem (the leader) rather than lots of side shoots and leaves.  Working so closely with my tomatoes also gave me a chance to see which varieties performed well.  I grew a lot of different varieties from Egmont Seeds, as John McCullough sent me a huge box of seeds last year so I could trial them in the garden and follow up on their progress through my blog and on social media.  Varieties from Egmont Seeds in 10 cm pots at the moment are Big Beef, Big Boy, Dr Walters Special, Heirloom Marriage Big Brandy, Heirloom Marriage Genuwine, Heirloom Red Pear, Heirloom Yellow Pear, and Tumbling Tom Red (I only have one plant, which I potted into a hanging basket before I finished work for today).  All are looking incredibly healthy.

As part of my daily routine, I also check on plants in the greenhouse and walk around the garden to monitor how plants are doing.  I noticed the following problems:

  •          My bad streak with beans continues.  Of the many seeds I sowed direct on 27th October, only two have popped up (they were White Butterfly beans given to me by my gardening friend Rob Hammington in the Waikato, which are or were part of Koanga’s collection).  Of the many dwarf and climbing beans I sowed on my heat pad as a contingency eight days ago, only a measly three Blue Lake Runner beans (Kings Seeds) germinated!
  •          Despite spraying my seedlings in the greenhouse with Yates Success on Thursday, something continues to eat the leaves and decapitate my rockmelon seedlings.  Luckily I oversowed  (especially Hale’s Best from Yates, as I had two packets), so I could afford to lose some plants along the way.  I’m not saying Success isn’t effective, but maybe it doesn’t offer protection against all insects and perhaps not the one that has been munching on my plants. The trouble is that during the day, it gets very hot in the greenhouse, so we have to leave the doors open.  The dreaded white butterfly (and other pests) therefore have the opportunity to enter.  To cover myself, I also sprinkled a little Yates Derris Dust from the Nature’s Way range over my seedlings. Maybe the white butterfly likes melons as well as brassicas?

The weather improved in the afternoon.  It was lovely and sunny, so for the first time, I moved my largest eggplants and rockmelon seedlings which were inside the greenhouse to outside, as I need to start hardening them off.  I’ll continue to do this and hope to plant them out in the next ten days or so, weather permitting of course.

What did everyone else get up to in the garden today?