The Great Tomato challenge – Spring 2014

The challenge has been set! Are you going to be ‘Ocean Grove’s champion tomato grower?’

John Bowman, one of our Community Garden members, has staked his claim and will be using his plot at the Community Garden to grow ‘Yellow Jubilee’ tomatoes … and perhaps a couple of other varieties!

The Students at Surfside Primary School have accepted the challenge set by John, on behalf of the Community Garden. Rachel Ford, the Kitchen Garden Specialist at Surfside, has replied:

‘Dare we say that 8 years of weekly kitchen garden classes as part of the intensive Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program has enabled us to also perfect the art of tomato growing.

‘We already have young seedlings of Tommy Toe – a taste test winner, Ford’s favourite – an all purpose family heirloom variety, and Siberian- an early variety growing in our hothouse.  We will be planting more tomato seeds this week, some to plant out and some to sell at our school fair.  We hope that many community members join John at the community garden to see who can produce the best tomatoes.’

Are you up for the challenge? If you don’t have room to grow tomatoes at home, consider becoming a member of the Community Garden and renting a plot. If you are a member of the Community Garden you can also use the greenhouse to help raise your seedlings … to help you get off to a great start!

Tomato-growing tips

Check out our month-by-month garden notes for some great guidance about what to do … and when!

September tips – its already time to start preparing your garden beds and planting your seeds for early to mid-season varieties (if you want to start with seeds rather than seedlings)

  • Prepare your beds:
    • make sure you’re not using the same area you used for tomatoes last year
    • dig-over the area you’re going to plant into and add compost/animal manures
    • tomatoes love superphosphate, blood and bone and potash – you can mix them up yourself in a 6: 4: 1 mix, or fertilise with a tomato-specific fertiliser from the nursery – make sure you do this at least 3-4 weeks before you plan to plant out your seedlings
  • Plant your seeds:
    • sow seeds thinly in trays of light, sandy soil or seed-raising mix
    • keep moist but not wet
    • keep sheltered — the greenhouse at the Community Garden is ready and waiting!
    • wait until seedlings have the first pair of leaves and then prick out into new trays or single tubes, to keep the plants separate ready for planting out

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