Sunday, 3 June 2012

Growing Tomatoes in Your Potager

Potager = Kitchen Garden, Kailyard, Victory Garden, Garden Plot....

I sell heirloom vegetables from my little greenhouse business, called.. what else, Nitty Gritty Greenhouse.

Tomato questions have come up lately and so I promised to do a little post on how I grow mine.

There are many great options out there, so many ways to grow them efficiently, so this may help, or may just add to the confusion ;)

There are two categories of tomatoes...
Indeterminate or vining types, which are grown on stakes, trellises, or tall round cages
Determinate or bush types, which grow nicely in tomato cages or the larger peony cages...

Determinate in cage...


Bush types (determinate) do just fine in tomato or peony cages. 


This is how I grow the vining types (indeterminate)


Place a length of string over your support beam, rafter, beam, post...
make it a long string with both ends hanging down to the top of the pot.


Tie one end of the string into a loose loop around the base of the tomato plant.
Make it loose and large, as the stem will thicken as it matures.


Gently twist the string around the length of the stem....

As the vine grows, just keep twisting...


Tie off the other end of the string half way or more up the length of the first string.
You want it out of the way as your tomato plant grows, but available for when you get another branch/stem on that plant.

I find that mine often fork out somewhere along the way and that second stem also needs support.
Or then I do not get the suckers off in time and so they become another whole stem ;)

Either way, I think :) it is good to have that second string per plant.


Here is one that has already forked out into two stems/branches...
Both are now supported as they grow, thicken, and begin to fruit.


As you can see, it also works well for cucumbers and offers really great support for the plants....


Holds a lot of tomatoes, fruits and stems ;)


I use the same system outdoors...
Hubby made these frames out of 2x2's, about 7 feet high
 that just screw into the sides of the raised beds.


Here is a sucker being removed...
They grow at the base of the tomato branches, in the crotch between the stem and the branch.
They are easily snapped off when they are small.
If they are longer than about 4", use pruners or scissors, in order to minimise the chance of tearing.

Regarding suckers...

Bush (determinate) types do not require sucker removal...
They grow at an even pace, stay more compact, and flower all over at the same time
Therefore, removing suckers to promote flowering, make more, or bigger, fruit, is not an issue. .

However, a good majority of heirlooms tend to be indeterminate (vining)
Those are the ones that you want to remove suckers from
I try to get most of my suckers off...
but am not too fussed about it.
If some get away from me, and begin to flower,
I am no longer able to bring myself to remove it,
as that means removing a whole lot of tomatoes!
Plus, leaving one or two suckers, means more fruit.
However, some feel that fruiting suckers make for smaller fruits..
You decide ;)