How are your tomato plants coming along?
This is how we gardening folk are greeting each other at this time of year. Have you got your plants in? Have you pruned them yet?
I handed over the tomato growing to Brian last year and it was a learning experience to watch his meticulous pruning. The tomato crop was a bumper one during a year when most people I spoke to were having a bad tomato season.
Now he's got the job permanently whilst I grow the other veges.
As the cellar is still groaning full of jars of tomato sauce, chutney and preserves, we thought we'd keep our crop a bit smaller this year. Only fifty plants.....!!!
Well, one can never have too many tomatoes. Can one?? It's addictive.
I'll make more preserves, we'll enjoy lots of fresh tomato juice and share some with family and friends.
Brian grew the plants from seeds that he planted in punnets in August and got them started in the glass house. In late September he planted them out into the garden. This is the time to plant tomatoes here in the Barossa Valley, but the times vary depending on where you are and your local conditions. Now they are big enough to trellis the plants and to do the first pruning.
I'm not going to explain about pruning the plants, there are lots of instructions for doing that elsewhere in gardening books and sites on line.
However, if you want Brian to describe the process, I'll ask him to post a blog on here.
Before pruning and trellising.
After pruning and tying onto the trellis.
This is how the pruned tomato plant should look.
Brian pruned off some of the lateral shoots, leaving two main growing stems.
Now I'm going to make new plants from the bits he cut off.
I learned how to do this a few years ago and have done it ever since. Frugality at its best.
Take the laterals that you have pruned off the bushes and trim them.
Trim some of the leaves and stems so the plant will put its energy into putting out new roots rather than lush green leaves.
This is how they should look after trimming. Cut off half of the larger leaves. Leaving half leaves.
Place cuttings in a jar of water, rain water is best, and stand near a north facing window.
Keep the water topped up because we want to encourage roots to grow up along the stem.
As soon as they have roots I'll plant them in the ground. These plants will be our second crop which will bear fruit right through until the first frosts in late Autumn.
If you are buying your tomato plants you could buy just one punnet or even just one plant, take cuttings and triple your crop for very little cost.