Tips for growing tomatoes

Wow I’ve learnt so much about growing different fruit and vegetables. I thought I’d shared all the things I’ve learnt about tomatoes. Lets hope this ends in a bumper crop this year!!! 
I grew several seedlings from seeds I was given (they are still rather little but you can get an idea of what I’m talking about with these photos). I dug the hole very deep; so that once the plant is put in the ground only the top few leaves are above the soil; any area below the soil will grow roots and provide a good root stock for the tomato. In the hole I added tomato soil mix, then I added a few tablespoons of milk powder plus some banana skin. I am now growing all my tomatoes like this. I also intend to water with worm wee every two or three weeks once flowers start to develop. It pays to stake the plant now to avoid damaging the roots later; yes it’ll look rather silly having a tiny plant with a 1.5m stake but they will grow into them, and one bamboo just won’t cut it. I read that mulching with banana skins help increase the potassium going to your plants so all my skins from now on will go on my plants.
It also pays to remove the side laterals; these are the small branches that grow between the main branches on the tomato plant. Did you know you can put these in the soil and they can grow into new plants?

Some other tips: Later in the session when you have a lot of fruit (yes tomatoes are a fruit) on your vines remove a lot of the leaves (especially the lower ones) to help with air flow and circulation, also to try to reduce the chance of blight. Don’t plant your tomatoes in the garden until all danger of frost has past.
Watering: When watering your plants water the soil around your plants and not the leaves as this can increase the risk of disease. Also when your milk bottle is empty fill the bottle with water and pour the mixture over the leaves to help keep diseases at bay and also the plants will like the extra calcium.
Companion plants: marigolds (I’ve added calendula around my plants), garlic, onions, shallots, chives, nasturtiums, borage and of course basil.

I thought I’d share all the different places and ways I’m growing tomatoes this year. I have two black cherries in large (32cm across) pots. I’ve made bamboo and a metal teepees to support the plants. I’m very excited about these black cherries and can’t wait to eat some. It was really windy here the other day so I protected my new seedlings with some old milk powder bags. I guess this could work as mini greenhouses maybe they will grow quicker? Maybe I’ll put them back on!
I have two purple Cherokee seedlings that I’ve planted in sheltered areas. I really hope they get enough sunlight. I have them near the fence so that I can simply tie them up as they grow. 
I also have two more cherry tomatoes in my washing planters under my broad beans. I grew tomatoes in these planers last year and grew beans in them over the winter to nitrogen fix the soil. I understand these aren’t really happy bed partners but there are still too many yummy beans on there for me to pull them out so for now they have to play nicely together.    

My own little (tiny) seedlings are being grown in my raised beds. I found some metal poles floating around the garden so Mr Ecochick cut them up with an angle grinder (what fun to see all those sparks flying) and then he banged them into the ground for me. I attached some twine bewteen the poles to support my tomatoes. Last year I didn’t give my plants enough room or support and so have now planted them 50cm apart with lots of support. I was even able to give some seedlings away in exchange for fresh eggs from a friend (had amazing poached eggs this morning!). 

My last few tomatoes are tiny toms in hanging baskets. Last year we were eating tomatoes as early as November and as late as May since the deck provides a lot of sun and shelter. Fingers crossed they will do as well this year.
I’m really hoping that all these things will help me get a better crop than last year. What are your top tips for growing tomatoes?
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