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Tomatoes come in a wide variety of tastes, shapes, colours and sizes that you can use in fresh salads or process and freeze for sauces and soups.
They need sunny locations with well-drained soil. Although tomatoes are vigorous growers, they require a relatively small space for large production. This article tells you how to select tomato seeds and plants, how to plant tomatoes step by step, and how to maintain, prune and harvest tomatoes.
Growing tomatoes at a glance
Tomatoes are a cold-sensitive crop that requires a sunny location and warm temperatures. The soil should be mixed with compost, well-drained and kept moist but not soggy. Plant tomatoes when the soil has warmed and there is no danger of a late frost. To speed up the process of warming up the soil, cover it with black plastic for a couple weeks before planting.
To choose from the broad variety of tomatoes, ask other gardeners in your area which varieties grow best, and choose varieties that have been specially bred for disease resistance.
The maturity of the different types varies greatly, from early tomatoes that take as little as 60 days from seed to harvest, to large tomatoes, which take up to 90 days and ripen in late summer.
Properly pruned tomatoes require a relatively small space for large production. Depending on the type, a healthy tomato plant can yield more than 5kg.
Tomatoes must be kept off the ground. There are different types of tomato supports available. Allow at least 1 square foot of space per tomato plant to provide access and avoid overcrowding. The more leaves a tomato plant can present to the sun, the better the quality of the tomatoes.
Tomatoes are part of the nightshade family. Plant them in a location where no aubergine, pepper, potatoes or tomatillos (husk tomatoes) were grown the previous year.