How to Grow and Harvest Tomatoes
Tomatoes are really easy to grow and no South African garden is complete without tomatoes and the more the better! Glen Seeds offer a massive selection of heirloom and specialty open pollinated tomato seeds for the South African market. There is something for everyone and some more from Glen Seeds.
There are various types and sub types of Tomatoes and peppers for the South African home gardener growing these are pretty much the same across all types.
Tomatoes are typically classified by color and to some degree by shape and size. The colours of tomatoes in a general sense dictate a certain taste, however all tomatoes should firstly taste like Tomatoes with coloration taste differences adding to the great tomato taste. One can sometimes be surprised when for instance a red tomato taste just like a typical green tomato!
Soil Preparation and feeding
Tomatoes thrive in rich well composted soil with good drainage. Tomatoes easily split and will lose considerable flavor when water logged, in fact most plants will die off when waterlogged.
Nitrogen is crucial to this family. Properly broken down compost contains a lot of nitrogen however this on its own will probably not be enough. Kraal or chicken manure added to your soil will do wonders for your Tomatoes.
Even more crucial than nitrogen is calcium as well as the ability of the plants to absorb calcium. We highly recommend that you supplement your soil with calcitic lime which is fast absorbing and gypsum if you can find. You can also add crushed egg shells to the soil, bone meal or anything else you can find to increase the calcium content for the plants. In order to aid the plants in absorption of calcium, we recommend adding a tablespoon full of agricultural grade Epsom salts to the soil, and administer an Epsom salts foliage spray two to three times during the growing season. When Tomatoes don’t have adequate calcium blossom end rot (BET) easily sets in and destroy your harvest.
At Glen Seeds we do not recommend using chemical fertilisers but if this is something you use, choose types with high nitrogen content. During growing spraying with high nitrogen content natural foliar spray three to four times will do wonders. Many good marine based products are available commonly at garden centers that are not just full of nitrogen but also excellent sources of trace elements.
Planting times for Tomatoes in South Africa
Aug to Jan
When planting early start of in seed trays indoors or in a greenhouse and transplant only after last frost.
Please note: Planting times supplied is in a general South African sense and is based on typical South African Highveld conditions. Your particular area of South Africa might vary; there are many parts of South Africa where Tomatoes and Peppers can be grown all year round!
Seed Planting and Germination
Tomato seeds germinate easily at 10 degrees Celsius.
Tomato Plant Spacing
As a general rule Tomato plants should be spaced 75 cm apart, however smaller types can be spaced much closer. It is quite important to ensure plants are not too close together for good aeration which reduces the onset and spreading of fungal diseases.
Days to harvest
The majority of Tomatoes and peppers will start to produce around 80 days after transplant, there are however a few earlier types.
Most of the heirloom types of tomato seeds we sell to South Africans at Glen Seeds are what is referred to as indeterminate types. This means that fruit production is over an extended period, which is great for the home gardener. You should expect on most types that you will harvest fruits up to 60 days after first fruits ripen.
- Days to harvest is based on typical good growing conditions and can sometimes vary dependent on climate, state of soil, in some instances day length as well as the climate for the area in South Africa where you reside.
- The specific plant might have characteristic that falls out of the typical type norm.
- Days to harvest are counted from germination or seedling transplant date whichever is the latest.
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