Originally posted 2013 by Jess Greatwich (Market Manager December 2012 to September 2014)

Tomato season is well and truly upon us here in the Barossa so we thought it was about time we put together some tips for growing a truly spectacular crop of tomatoes.

You can buy tomato seedlings at the Farmers Market from Falg Nurseries who are here every single week. If you can’t make it to the market then all garden centers will have tomato seedlings this time of year. Try to buy heritage varieties if you can; they support natural diversity in your garden, come in a rainbow of colours and sizes and taste incredible.

So, without further ado, some tips:

  • Plant your toms in a different place every year so that pests and disease don’t get the chance to become established in a particular area. For some great information about crop rotation, check out Gardening Australia’s website – easy to follow and with lots of examples.
  • Tomatoes need at least 8 hours of sunlight a day so a nice sunny spot with afternoon shade is best – you don’t want them to get fried.
  • Lots of organic matter and compost goes without saying! It is better to add a rich, organic compost to the soil before planting rather than rely on fertilising the plants once they’re growing.  Using too much nitrogen based fertiliser will give you huge, leafy plants with less fruit.
  • Plant seedlings deep – all the way up to the first set of leaves. Roots will then sprout from the stem, strengthening the plant and encouraging vigorous growth.
  • There is a school of thought that says to pluck off the first flush of flowers. This encourages the plant to devote all its time and energy to growing big and strong before setting fruit; your eventual tomatoes will be big and delicious.
  • A thick, organic mulch around the plants will regulate soil temperature and help reduce stress.
  • Staked plants are less likely to break (especially given that we’re growing beefsteak varieties) and if they’re not sprawled on the ground they’re less susceptible to pests and disease.

Any other tips for your fellow growers? You can leave a comment below.

And don’t forget, if this all sounds like too much hard work, you can buy the most delicious, juicy tomatoes at the Farmers Market every Saturday morning!

Happy growing!