These tomatoes have sauce! - Sep 20, 2012

Dear gardening friends,

With tomatoes selling in the supermarkets for up to $12.99 a kilo there has never been a better time to grow your own.

The varieties they sell in supermarkets haven't been chosen because they taste good. They have been selected because they are as hard as cricket balls. These varieties can be thrown into boxes and transported thousands of kilometres around Australia. They taste terrible, but it has been so long since they tasted good we have just forgotten.

The tomato plants that you find in Tim's garden centre have been selected because the tomatoes they produce taste delicious. The heirloom varieties have actually been passed down from family to family for hundreds of years. These tomatoes would simply turn into tomato sauce if you tried to transport them. I grew a variety called "Amish Paste" last year and it was as sweet as water melon.
Another variety called "Taurus" produced huge sweet tasting fruit as big as your hand. I discovered a cherry sized tomato called " Sweet Bite" was resistant to fruit fly.

The best news is these heirloom varieties are easier to grow. They wouldn't have lasted this long if they were fussy.

I planted up my vegetable garden on Sunday so I am hoping the last frost has past. It was sad to pull out my Broccoli plants because they were still providing small headed broccoli.

I noticed for the last month they were uneffected by caterpillars. This was a welcome relief because about 6 weeks ago I had some friends over for dinner and as I served up the home grown broccoli I noticed several micro waved caterpillars still in the bowl!
To prepare my veggie garden for spring planting I tipped 4 bags of cow manure over the spent sugar cane mulch. Then I turned this over with a long handled shovel breaking up any clods of dirt.

If you own a spade give this to your children to use. These are back breakers for adults. A long handled shovel allows you to work standing upright.
As I dug up the soil I removed any white curl grubs. These eat the roots of your plants. I raked the soil level and then dressed it with garden lime (one handful per square metre).

Then I covered the soil with a fresh layer of sugar cane mulch. This locks in moisture and stops the weeds from growing. I have also found that the snails don't like slithering on sugar cane as much as soil.

As the mulch breaks down it adds organics to your soil making it hold more water.
This year I am not going to prune my tomatoes.Clive Blazeys from Diggers did a trial and found they got up to 83% less fruit if the laterals were pruned. Pruning sets back fruit production. They also found the fruit were just as big on the unpruned tomato plants. So many old wives tales out the window!

This year the plants are going to grow much bigger so one stake is never going to support all that extra fruit. I have made a tomato trellis out of tomato stakes and cane supports. Check out the photo.

We do sell wire cones if you are growing a single tomato. I also like to support these with a tomato stake driven into the ground so the cone doesn't blow over in the wind.
I only have room for 3 tomato plants on the trellis so I have planted 1x Tims Taurus because it was so productive last year.1x Amish Paste because it is so delicious! and 1x Black Russian because Renee loved eating these. I have planted a Sweet Bite tomato in a wire cone just because it doesn't get fruit fly. Simon talked me into planting a Wapsipinicon Peach tomato as well. This creamy coloured fruit is hairy! They say the hair helps stop fruit fly. This hairy tomato has won tomato taste tests around the world so I will give it a go.

As the plants grow I will attach the branches to the canes with buding tape. We sell this at the nursery. I only use tomato dust if we get lots of rain.
Tomato plants need to be watered daily if you want success. Try not to water the leaves and this will help prevent fungus diseases.

I will hang a fruit fly trap off the trellis to help control fruit fly. We stock one that kills male and female fruit fly.
I also planted seed potatoes,cucumber plants, lettuce, basil, parsely and raddichio. Don't forget the snail bait.

This year I have planted the seed potatoes at least 20cms below the ground. This should help prevent them from growing above the ground and being exposed to the light. Green potatoes are poisonous. As the plants grow I will mound sugar cane around the stems. This encourages even more potatoes to grow. We still have seed potatoes but you will have to hurry.

Home grown potatoes are just as good as home grown tomatoes.
We had some rain during the week and this helped freshen up the gardens and lawns. If you fertilised your lawn last week with Tim's Rapid Results then you will already be seeing spectacular results. You can hand water all you like but nothing compares to rain. Hopefully we will get some more soon.

Our trees at Campbelltown Hospital are all growing. I was up there during the week putting woodchip around the base. This insulates the ground and locks in the water. I also wetta soiled them so when it does rain the soil will absorb the water. Next time you are up at the hospital check out our trees. We planted these guerilla style 12 months ago. In years to come you will be able to park your car under the shade of these trees. When we planted them we mixed Greengold Planting compost with the back fill. It's incredible what a diference this product makes. The Jacarandas lining the entrance road have grown almost as tall as me in just 12 months.

Some great news, they are building a new carpark at the hospital that will be open in a couple of weeks. It will be interesting to see if they landscape it.
If you are looking for a small tree for your garden consider a Forest Pansy (Cercis). This tree only grows about 4 metres high by 4 metres wide. The tree grows the shape of an umbrella. It has spectacular mauve coloured flowers along the stems in spring. The stems are zig zagged. The giant purple leaves will appear next and these are sensational. They are like art in your garden! (picture on the right)

Ryan has been in the rose bushes all week spacing them apart. They are growing so big now with flower buds all about to burst. If you need some roses for your garden come and talk to Ryan. From this weekend you will be able to sniff the flowers before you buy. The roses are dearer at this time of year but at least you know what your getting. Our roses are black spot free. Ryan has been mixing Seasol with Yates Rose sheild and spraying them often. The plants have never looked better.

If you need help in your garden come and see us.

Happy gardening