How to Grow articles share practical steps to growing food, flowers and ornamental plants in your garden – indoors and out! Learn more about what to plant when, moon gardening and choosing seedlings and plants to save money.

Top Tips for Growing Terrific Tomatoes

Tomatoes are delicious herbaceous annuals and one of the easiest crops you can grow, even in a small space. If you’re a beginner gardener or had challenges, follow these practical tips for growing terrific tomatoes and a healthy abundant harvest.

Tomato Growing Guide

Top Tips for Growing Terrific Tomatoes

How to Select Tomatoes

Tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum syn Lycopersicon esculentum) are members of the Solanaceae (Nightshade) plant family. Their relatives include potatoes, chilli, capsicum and eggplant. There are a huge number of varieties. So, how do you narrow it down to what is best for you?

Obviously, the most important consideration is to choose cultivars suited to your climate. Locally adapted tomatoes tend to be more resilient to weather conditions, pests and diseases.

3 Considerations when Selecting your Tomato Cultivar

  1. Firstly, whether to grow heirlooms, hybrids or grafted varieties. Do you want to save seeds or space?
  2. Secondly, do you want large or small sized fruit? How do you intend using them in cooking and do you want to preserve them?
  3. Thirdly, whether to grow indeterminate or determinate varieties. Your space, microclimate and growing season will influence this decision too.

1. Heirloom vs Hybrid vs Grafted Tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes

First, heirlooms or heritage tomato varieties have been carefully saved for purity and handed down for generations – at least 50 to 100 years. For this reason, I favour old fashioned heirloom tomatoes because are grown for their flavour, size, yield or other beneficial characteristics like disease-resistance. Heirloom cultivars grow ‘true-to-type’ (identical to their parent plant). Their seeds are open-pollinated by insects or the wind.

Therefore, the key benefit of heirlooms is you can save seeds and grow future crops for free. You know they will produce an identical tomato. So, once you have grown your favourite varieties, try breeding your own cultivars. Choose the best characteristics that are adapted to your garden conditions. Then, save seeds so you enjoy future harvests with the same tomato traits. Learn more about saving and sourcing seeds.



As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Your support of this site is appreciated!

Hybrid Tomatoes

Next, hybrids are the result of a controlled pollination method. This is where pollen from two different species of tomatoes is crossed intentionally by a gardener. The purpose is that each parent plant provides a beneficial characteristic (such as early maturity). Thus, producing a better plant in the next generation.

Hybridization does happen randomly in nature too. If you choose hybrid seeds you will see them labelled as ‘F1.’ This indicates a variety that has been bred specifically for a desired trait. Hybrid plants tend to produce bigger harvests and grow better than the two parent varieties due to ‘hybrid vigor.’ This sounds good, right? BUT the fruits grown from F1 plants will produce genetically unstable, sterile seed. Consequently, you can’t save seed to use in following years. Why not?

F1 hybrids do not grow ‘true-to-type’ like heirlooms or grow as strong in the next generation. Hybrid plants will revert back to one of the parent cultivars. This means you have to keep buying new seed every year. So, hybrids are not a very sustainable choice and certainly more expensive! There’s huge pressure on seed banks globally. For food security, it’s safer to be self-reliant with the freedom to grow food from your own seed stocks.

Grafted tomato plants

Finally, grafted tomatoes are formed by joining two plants together. They are grown on vigorous, disease-resistant resilient rootstock. They produce a larger harvest, without compromising flavour. Grafted tomatoes can be ideal for container gardeners because you don’t need as many plants or as much space. You can also graft your own tomatoes.

But what about size?

2. Should you Grow Large or Small Tomato Varieties?

(more…)

The Squash Family – How to Grow Curcubits

Zucchini, squash, marrows, pumpkins, cucumbers, melons and gourds are all members of the Curcubitaceae, Squash or Gourd family. These fruits and vegetables are also known as ‘Curcubits’.

The Squash Family - How to Grow Curcubits

They are delicious tummy fillers and worth finding a space for in your garden.

When to Plant the Squash Family

All curcubits are sun worshippers and suit warm climate conditions. Unless you have a very cold climate, you should be able to grow some varieties of these fruits and vegetables. In cool climates sow in spring, summer and autumn.

If you’re in the subtropics, this family grows with the least problems in spring to early summer and autumn through winter. In tropical climates, they grow most of the year but thrive during the dry rather than wet season, when they are hardest hit by fungal problems.

Where to Plant Curcubits

Cucurbits are best suited to a full sun position with soil high in organic matter and good drainage. Most varieties of these vegetables require ample space in a garden bed, although a few suit large, deep containers.

(more…)

12 Valuable Tips to Grow Healthy Microgreens

Do you want an abundant harvest of healthy microgreens? Whether you’re growing these nutrient-packed vegetables and herbs for your own health or to sell, these tips can help you succeed quickly.

12 Tips on How to Grow Healthy Microgreens

I’ve been growing microgreens for over 9 years and raised thousands of these tiny veggies and herbs in that time. Not only for our own use and good health, but also to share at public workshops and garden events to help inspire others.

I love these babies and have learned SO much about their needs. So, here are a few of my secrets to help you get a continuous abundance of healthy microgreens.

(more…)

5 Reasons to Grow Sunflowers

Why grow sunflowers? There are many benefits to growing these beautiful blooms including their cut flowers and free edible seeds. They also attract pest-patrolling birds and bees to improve your harvest, and even help detox contaminated soil. These flowers are not just pretty faces!

5 Reasons to Grow Sunflowers

The botanical name for sunflowers is ‘Helianthus’ – ‘Helia’ meaning sun and ‘Anthus’ for flower. Sunflowers are called ‘tournesol’ in French (meaning ‘turns with the sun’). Curious to learn how to use these cheerful flowers to advantage in your garden? Read on…

 

5 Reasons to Grow Sunflowers

1. Feed your Pollinators

The showy large outer petals help attract many species of bees to your sunflowers including honey bees and bumble bees. The centre of the sunflower houses hundreds and thousands of tiny individual florets that contain nectar and pollen, a food source for bees.

(more…)

3 Tips on Growing Peas and Beans

Do you love the crisp sweet crunch of young peas and beans? These easy-to-grow crops are perfect for all gardeners in small urban spaces. In pots, plots or garden beds!

3 Tips for Growing Peas and Beans

How do you get the highest yield from your peas and beans, especially if you have limited space?

These are tips I use to grow healthy pea and bean plants that produce an abundant harvest. I hope they help you too.

3 Tips for Growing Peas and Beans

1. Healthy Soil and Fertilising

  • Peas and beans both prefer well drained, moist soils, with plenty of organic matter and a soil pH 6.0-7.5.
  • You can make your own potting mix like I do, or improve your soil with compost and worm castings if you have them. I also add minerals and mulch. Click here for tips on preparing your soil for planting.
  • Every couple of weeks apply a liquid fertiliser such as seaweed, fish emulsion or diluted worm casting concentrate to boost growth.

(more…)

Easy Guide to Growing Basil

How to Plant, Grow, Use and Harvest Basil

Easy Guide to Growing Basil - How to Grow Basil + Planting, Using & Harvesting Tips

Why Grow Basil?

As a gardener and cook, I couldn’t bear to have a garden without Basil. This fragrant herb is not only grown for its flavour but also its many health benefits. I use it in our kitchen as much for its delicious taste as I do for its medicinal properties. Interested in growing basil? Try it in a pot, garden or on your kitchen bench as sprouts or microgreens. Every year, I allocate ‘prime real estate’ space to basil in pots, as well as around my garden. Read on for how you can use this versatile herb.

 

Basil Varieties – Which Basil should you Grow?

Basil (Ocimum Basilicum) is a member of the Mint family (Lamiaceae). Like its mint ‘cousins’, basil comes in a large range of aromatic varieties, with flavours to please even the fussiest taste buds. Annual varieties will last you a season and then provide you with free seeds. Perennial cultivars last much longer and are even better value. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Sweet Basil and Genovese are two of the most popular basil choices for pesto as they have mild sweet flavours.

(more…)

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Raising Seeds

Have you tried raising seeds but they failed to germinate successfully? It may be due to one of these five common causes.

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Raising Seeds

Raising Seeds: 5 Common Mistakes to Avoid

1. Choosing Unsafe Food Seeds

  • Did you know the majority of seeds (non-certified organic and some heirloom and open-pollinated brands) are sprayed with fungicides? This chemical process is used to stop rodents and insects from eating the seeds during storage. GMO (genetically modified) seeds are also creeping into our food system. Read the packets carefully when buying your seeds. Look for wording like “Certified Organic” and “Non-GMO”.

(more…)

How to Prevent and Fix Leggy Seedlings

After seeds germinate, do your leggy seedlings look weak and straggly like this? Need some help?

The stems on leggy seedlings are long and thin, but there are few or very tiny leaves.

The stems on leggy seedlings are long and thin, but there are few or very tiny leaves.

What Causes Leggy Seedlings?

‘Leggy’ seedlings typically have stretched skinny stems and look fragile. They may be bending forward rather than growing up straight with a strong stem.

If your newly germinated seedlings look like this, it may be due to one of three common causes: (more…)

9 Foods You Can Regrow from Kitchen Scraps

Are you growing an edible garden? One easy way to save money is to grow some of your plants for free. How? From leftover food scraps that are often thrown away!

9 Foods You Can Regrow From Kitchen Scraps | The Micro Gardener

9 Foods You Can Regrow From Kitchen Scraps

You may already be composting your kitchen ‘waste’. That’s a great way to build healthy soil. However, it may save you money to be selective before throwing everything into your compost system. There are many plant parts that can help you propagate new plants. For minimal effort and no cost.

Why Should You Only Regrow Organic Food?

  • First, a word of warning! For health reasons, I suggest you select organic vegetables, fruit and herbs. Too expensive? So is the cost of poor health! I think safe food is one of the best investments we can make.
  • Sadly, non-organic produce is grown using chemicals. Not just one spray either. It’s commonly a cocktail of herbicides, fungicides, pesticides and other -icides. These are applied during the growth cycle and even after harvesting. These are often systemic chemicals. That means you can’t wash them off the skin.
  • The chemicals are absorbed internally into the plant tissues through soil and water. Root crops like potatoes are especially vulnerable. Other crops are genetically modified or imported and radiated.

(more…)

9 Strategies to Help Combat Common Edible Garden Problems

Having garden problems? Do you ever feel frustrated with your soil, pests or limited space? Is it too hot or windy, cold, wet or dry to grow food? If you’re having challenges growing an edible garden, it helps to have a ‘tool kit of techniques’ you can use to overcome common problems.

9 Strategies to Help Combat Common Edible Garden Problems

There are a variety of strategies you can apply to harvest from your edible garden all year round.

When the Growing Gets Tough

Here in subtropical SE Queensland, Australia, we have challenging wet and dry seasons. We often experience long months of drought. Our growing periods are not governed by a calendar with a traditional three month season like many places in the world. Spring typically only lasts a few weeks in the subtropics and summer is at least four months long! Here the hot/wet/dry months can be very challenging to grow food. Many northern hemisphere gardeners look forward to warm summers as a prime growing season but get frustrated with a long, cold period. So no climate is perfect!

“Extreme temperatures, high humidity, wild storms, hail, damaging winds, sudden heavy downpours, driving rain, drought and flooding are common weather issues to deal with. Not to mention pest insect population explosions. It’s no wonder many food gardeners throw their hands in the air and give up altogether!”

So what CAN you do when growing conditions are difficult?

 

(more…)

Go to Top