Growing Tips for Solanaceae

Potatoes

Growing tips and suggestions can be found here

Growing Tips for tomatoes,

Cultivation

Tomatoes are always a challenge if you want to do it organically, especially if you want to do it without copper sprays! This is the program we’ve developed over the years:

This program seems extreme and time consuming,. The reality is we have heavily demineralised soils and tomatoes will not do well in anything but a rich highly mineralised and microbially live soil. This is our way to bring back those conditions. Once you have high brix crops and high quality compost you will be able to stop all the foliar sprays and extra activity!!!

 

Plant tomato seed at optimum time, Prick out 1 week later into trays or pots at least 7-9cm deep, at 3cm spacings. Transplant after last frost!!!

* Prepare beds by clearing out compost crops, double digging and incorporating 2cm  compost into top 5cm of soil. Unless you have exceptional soil, and your own home made high quality compost , we recommend you add  EF:Nature’sGarden and EF:NanoCal into the soil with the compost.

* Put the tomato poles into the beds (2 rows) with plants at 50cm diagonal spacings, and mulch the beds. At this time of the year you should be able to use scythed grass from the orchard.

* Plant tomatoes out close to the tomato poles.

* Water the tomato plants with EF:FishPlus after  transplanting them into beds.

* We find a weekly foliar spray with EF:Growth Foliar alternating with compost tea helps tomatoes a lot with a change to EF:Fruit Foliar  every time you want them to flower and set fruit again.

* Tomatoes are best watered by drip irrigation so as to keep the leaves as dry as possible. They have evolved in a dry arid climate and hate humidity. Seed that has been in New Zealand for generation and has been selected fir its ability to survive in our humid climate do far far better than imported heritage seed.

* Plant lots of basil around tomatoes.

Weekly Programme From Now On

Many people ask me why we have to delateral our tomatoes, they obviously were not created with a delateraler in place, so why now? This a really valid question that I have asked myself many times. The only answer I have come up with is that tomatoes evolved in a low humidity climate (highland central America). In places around the world, like Australia, California and even Seed Savers in Iowa, they have low humidity climates too and they grow them without the need to delateral. I have seen that many times, and there has been much research showing that delateraling lessens the crop, which also comes later. However - if you try here, you will probably find as I did, that you get blight really badly and you lose the whole plant, and do not get a crop at all. Basically tomatoes are not suited to our climate. If we want to have them as part of our diet we have to adapt, as we have - and it works well enough to be able to take huge crops off the plants and roast and bottle and dry, and make sauce and soup and eat the delicious  products all year round!! So.... take a deep breath and...

 

* delateral and tie up only on a sunny, windy, dry day, never a humid, still or wet day.

* delateral by bending out the very small laterals with clean fingers, this leaves far less chance for disease to enter the plant than if you’re having to break or cut large laterals.

* once the first tomatoes begin sizing up, weekly liquid feed with 90% liquid comfrey and 10% vermicast (ideal nutrient mix for tomatoes, and the vermicast provides the humates to hold the minerals in the comfrey in the root zone for the plant roots)

 

  • a 10% raw milk spray is great to prevent and stop blight

  • once tomatoes begin ripening, we cut any black diseased looking leaves away from under the bunch of tomatoes currently being picked, with secateurs, sterilised in meths between each plant!

  • Foliar applications of Koanga Psyllid solution and or Koanga Biopesticide will be necessary in many areas to prevent the psyllid damage so common now.

  • If you are still struggling with shield bugs over summer because of drought, lack of water or minerals you may find it helpful to plant ‘catch’ crops

One of the real keys for us is making sure the cleome is flowering at the right time. One season we thought we’d be smart and as we knew that it always self seeds and comes up by itself we thought we wouldn’t bother planting any seed ourselves. Sure it came up by itself, but it came up several weeks later than if we’d planted it and it wasn’t flowering when the 2nd generation of shied bugs hatched. The shield bugs hit the cleome, and as the plants were still small, they completely sucked all the sap from them and virtually killed them all and then made their way over to the tomatoes. The cleome actually came to life again after the shield bugs had all gone into hibernation again in the Autumn.