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.



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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?

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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 6 years and raised thousands of these tiny vegies 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.

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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.

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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.

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3 Steps to Prepare Your Garden for Planting

Do you ever wonder why your plants don’t grow well? Or just survive instead of thrive? Sowing seeds or plants into ‘dead dirt’ just won’t cut it if you want to grow a healthy garden! If you’re a beginner gardener, there are some basic principles to learn so you succeed every time.

You don’t need to spend much time, but a little effort every season to revive your soil in pots and garden beds will reap BIG rewards.

You don’t need to spend much time, but a little effort every season to revive your soil in pots and garden beds will reap BIG rewards.

 

Just like we thrive on a nutrient-dense diet in a stress-free environment, healthy plants need food and a happy home to live in too!

“If you meet the ‘needs’ of your plants, they will flourish, blossom and produce a bountiful harvest.” – Anne Gibson, The Micro Gardener

Are you:

If so, then follow my three steps to boost your soil and help your garden thrive:

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Design Tips for a Productive Kitchen Garden

Do you ever feel frustrated when pest insects damage your plants? Wish your kitchen garden was more productive? You’re not alone! Even the healthiest gardens struggle with a few ‘unwelcome visitors’ at times.

Design Tips for a Productive Kitchen Garden

 

If you have limited space for your food garden, then losing precious crops, can be even more disheartening.

The good news is there are design strategies you can use to:

  1. Maximise your space;
  2. Minimise pest insects;
  3. Enhance the beauty; and
  4. Even improve some of your harvests.

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Seed Starting Guide: Quick Tips for Starting Seeds Successfully

Do you struggle to raise seeds successfully? Are you a beginner gardener? Then follow this tutorial on how to be a successful plant ‘parent’. Avoid the most common mistakes when starting seeds.

Seed Starting Guide: Quick Tips for Starting Seeds Successfully

As a parent, there’s no greater joy than sharing the journey of nurturing a baby from infancy into a healthy young adult. But I confess – I’ve been a bad ‘parent’ many times … Before I learned how to raise my plant ‘babies’ successfully, they starved, drowned, died of thirst or neglect, too much love – or too little! If this sounds like you, then read on for my best tips.

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6 Tips for Abundant Edible Container Gardens

Struggling to grow food successfully in pots? Would you love to have abundant container gardens? Overflowing with delicious, healthy, colourful food? Fruit and vegetables that nourish your body? Give you joy to grow, cook and eat? If you think this is in the ‘too hard basket’ read on for my tips …

Grow an abundant harvest of home grown food in edible container gardens | The Micro Gardener

This is the kind of food I love helping people learn how to grow.

 
A continual abundance of organic vegetables, herbs and fruits that sustain you with good health can be yours to enjoy.

When I first started planting edibles in micro gardens, I made a LOT of mistakes. I wasted so much time and money. There were plenty of ‘dried arrangements’ (dead plants!) as a result. I struggled with poor harvests. Over the years I’ve realised container gardening requires a different set of skills to growing directly in your garden.
 

Delicious nutritious vegies are easy to grow at home in edible container gardens

With some basic knowledge, delicious nutritious vegies are easy to grow at home in container gardens.

 
These are 6 key techniques you can use to maximise your harvests. Grow a continual abundance of delicious home grown organic food. Tuck in!
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Easy Guide to Growing Perfect Peas

With pretty flowers, crisp green pods, climbing tendrils and delicate leaves, peas are an attractive and delicious addition to any kitchen garden.

Easy Guide on How to Grow Peas

Best of all, every part of a pea plant is edible!

Peas are little powerhouses! They may be low in calories, but peas are packed with a surprising number of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. Peas are also high in micro-nutrients, vitamins, fibre, protein and minerals that provide us with a wide range of health benefits.

Peas are annual vegetables. Best eaten raw and straight off the plant before their natural sugars turn to starch and lose their sweet flavour.

Peas are easy to grow, so are an ideal first crop for children and beginner gardeners.

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