Growing tomatoes? Here’s how to get the best crop

There’s nothing like a freshly picked, home grown tomato tossed into that salad or added to a lunchtime sandwich. But how do you make sure you are getting the best from your plants? 

October 18, 2023

When you bring your tomato seedlings home, don't rush to plant them in the garden:

  • Leave them outside on your verandah for a week.

  • Only water them twice.

  • Wait for them to flower before planting.


If you put your tomato plants into rich soil before they've even started flowering, they’ll put all their energy into lush leaves and long stems and forget about the delicious fruit. Think of this as fitness training for tomatoes – it will mean they are ready and raring to go when you plant them out into your garden or pots!


  • Give your tomato plants plenty of room. Around 80 cm between plants is ideal to ensure good air circulation and prevent overcrowding.

  • Tomato plants are sun worshippers, so choose a spot in your garden to make sure they get plenty of sunlight.

  • If you are short of space, you can also grow tomatoes in a hanging basket!


  • Once your seedlings have set flower you will need to start the feeding regime. Make sure you have lots of good organic matter. 

  • Use a fruit-and-vegetable fertiliser and rock dust. Tomatoes will absorb all those important minerals – which we then eat! 

  • A week after planting, give your tomato plants a drink of liquid fertiliser on their foliage and around the roots. This helps them to stay well-fed and happy.


Always mulch around your tomato plants with materials like pea straw, lupin, or lucerne. It not only looks good, but also helps retain moisture and keeps those pesky weeds at bay. Don't make these mulching mistakes


Consistent watering is a must. If bushes are watered irregularly, fruit production will be poor and nutrients will not be transported to the whole bush. Blossom-end rot, fruit fall, woody fruit, weak stem tissue are all related to inconsistency of watering. So, keep those tomato plants hydrated!


  • Keep a close eye on your plants as they grow. Trim any yellowing leaves and watch out for pesky bugs.

  • Prune your tomato plants to keep them healthy and focused on fruiting. Remove lower branches and any suckers that pop up.

  • Tomatoes can grow tall and wild, so provide them with stakes, cages, or trellises to keep them upright. Remember to tie them up to prevent sprawling.

  • Let your tomatoes ripen on the vine before you pick them. They should come away easily when they are ready to enjoy.

  • Mistakes to avoid when growing tomatoes

Source: Sabrina Hahn: hort with heart
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