Tomatoes are one the widest available and easiest to grow fruits. All your need is a warm, damp spot and a little patience, care and attention. They’re a perfect introduction into the world of home agriculture. Good luck!
1- Seeding. First of all, pick your variety although it’s a good idea to plant a couple of different types to maximise your chance of success and to spread your harvest. I recommend varieties such as Cherry or Grape tomatoes, Creole, Better Boy, Early Girl, Big Boy, Celebrity or, Brandywine. Read the reverse of the seed packets to determine when to plant your tomatoes. Don’t delay as deviation over a few days could prove to be disastrous. Plant the seeds an inch down in pots a month before you plan to plant them in the garden (at around 6-10 inches tall), and place the pots on a window sill or in a green house. I recommend planting 2 plants for every member of the family should they be keen tomato eaters.
2- Planting in the garden. Plant the tomatoes in an area of your garden that receives at least 7 hours of sun a day. Plant between 12-18 inches away from each other. Use a well-developed fertiliser or compost mixed into the top 4 inches of soil. Plant the juveniles into the soil to a depth of half to three quarters up the stem to ensure that a strong plant develops. Do not worry if you burry a few leaves lower down the stem. The newly planted plants need to be thoroughly soaked as soon as they are in the ground.
3- Early watering. In the first couple of weeks, you need to water each plant with half a litre of water every day.
4- Preventing weeds. It’s a good idea to cover the ground with wood chippings, or similar, roughly 2 weeks after planting in order to avoid weeds growing and to ensure that moisture is retained in the soil on the warmer days.
5- Continue watering your plants every other day (providing no rain). The soil needs to be kept damp but no soggy. Soggy soil will result in the roots developing a fungal disease. Water from the base of the plant to avoid buring of the leaves and fruit.
6- Keeping your plants upright. In certain conditions your plants may begin to tilt and sag. It is recommended that you prop them up using stakes/bamboo sticks. Place these deep into the soil next to the base of the stem. Very lightly tie to the bamboo pole (or similar) every 30 centimetres up the stem.
7- Consider lightly fertilising your plants. Natural compost is obviously preferred however this may not always be possible. Fertilise sparingly as otherwise the plants may grow too quickly leaving it susceptible to disease and infestation.
8- Encouraging pollination. Once you plant is flowing, lightly shake the poles or plants for 5 seconds every day. This encourages the pollinations to blossom.
9- Picking your fruits. Pick your tomatoes once they have started to develop a deep colour and are just slightly soft to the touch (do not squeeze!). If you’re concerned about other beasties eating your fruits before you pick them, remove them from the plant slightly before they reach ripeness and place them on a window sill inside until they are ready to eat.
Tomatoes do, however, taste sweeter when ripened on the vine, so you need to balance risk of threats versus taste.
Tomatoes grow best in a soil pH of 6 to 7. Buffers are available to rectify pH issues
Coffee plants developed caffeine as a natural pesticide. Spraying the leaves of your tomato plants with coffee should prevent infestations although use sparingly as too much can harm the plants.
In hotter climates it may be a good idea to shade the plants during the midday sun in order to prevent the leaves and fruit from burning.