NOTE: The WaterSaver Tomato & Veggie Pot and Trellis Kit used in this article has since been updated to a black pot colour, however the product and instructions remain the same.

Tomato growing seasons across Australia

Tomato planting seasons across Australia

Around Australia, now we’re well and truly into spring, it is time to be choosing a tomato variety and adopting a plant to take home and look after.

It’s the ultimate time of the year for home gardeners. The humble tomato plant is not only a symbol of spring and the joys that the season brings, but tomatoes are actually rather easy to grow with some basic knowledge and understanding. Plus, the taste of fresh tomatoes just picked from your own garden, and the sense of achievement in producing a successful harvest all through summer, is so rewarding.

You don’t need to invest a lot of time into a backyard garden bed to grow tomatoes, thanks to the innovative HomeLeisure WaterSaver Tomato & Veggie Pot and Trellis Kits. It’s a good-sized self-watering planter that features two trellis towers to give your plants support as they grow to produce fruit.

With the HomeLeisure WaterSaver Tomato & Veggie Pot and Trellis Kit, all you will need to do is plant your tomato plants, keep the water level up, make sure they get at least six hours of sun, feed them once in a while, and in 10-12 weeks (depending on the variety) you’ll enjoy some of the most delicious tomatoes you’ve ever tasted. Top get started, you just need to put your kit together, and that’s easy too.

Build your towers

When you get home, remove the black saucer from the planter to find the trellis kit and instructions. You’ll find eight 600mm rods, sixteen 290mm rods, and six stabilising support frames.

Remove the Tomato & Veggie Pot & Trellis Kit saucer to find the trellis kit and instructions

Remove the saucer to find the trellis kit and instructions

If you’re only growing one tomato plant, you can use the other side to grow a plant that also needs support, such as sweet peas, passionfruit and clematis. Another ides is to add to the one tower to make it bigger, and prune some of the branches (trusses) off your tomato plant to promote taller growth with potentially bigger fruit. You can then use the spare room to grow something else; further in this article we list some plants that tomatoes benefit growing with.

First, take the longer 600mm rods and firmly insert them into the base of the planter, using your other hand on the base for support while putting them in. Once that’s done, snap the saucer back onto the planter and make sure it is on properly because it will soon be holding water, then add a stabilising support frame an top of the rods.

600mm trellis rods into the base of the planter then add a stabilising support frame on top

Insert the longer 600mm trellis rods into the base of the planter then add a stabilising support frame on top

Next it’s time to add a quality potting mix into the planter and water-in well until the water-holding saucer on the bottom is full. When that has settled, it’s transplanting time. PLace the seedling in the middle of the trellis and plant them deeply – just below the first branch. This will make them develop roots out of their buried trunk and give them a stronger footing.

Add soil into the planter, water-in well, and add your seedlings in the middle of the trellis towers

Add soil into the planter, water-in well, and add your seedlings in the middle of the trellis towers

To give your plants additional support, pick-up some HomeLeisure Trend Cable Ties or Cable Strips. They’re reusable hook-and-loop straps you can adjust and move as your plant grows so they won’t dig-in and hurt your plant like string does. You can use these to support the main ‘trunk’ of your plant along the trellis, and also branches off the stabilising support frames as they can get quite heavy with lots of fruit on them.

Watch them grow

For the next number of weeks you’ll see your plants grow taller every day, and eventually produce yellow flowers. This means tomatoes are coming! Make sure they are receiving plenty of sun, and in cold climates are protected from frosts and cold winds at night. Keep watch to make sure they are growing within the trellis tower with the support they need, because it is very hard to correct and retrain their growth once they’ve taken off and settled-in.

As they grow, look for little ‘suckers’ (small new stems) that sprout between the main trunk and branches. After washing your hands, pinch them off with your fingers. These appear and can reappear quickly, so keep a close watch. Also watch to see which branch develops flowers first, and prune off all branches and leaves below it. This pinching and pruning will promote a stronger, taller plant that can concentrate on producing bigger fruit rather than lots of bushy greenery with lots of smaller fruit.

Give them a feed

To give your seedlings an initial boost, use a fertilizer with a higher nitrogen level. Once your plants have begun growing and producing flowers, move to a fertilizer with a higher potassium level to promote fruit growth. You can buy fertilizer designed for tomato growing, or look on the fertilizer packet for its NPK ratio. ‘N’ is for nitrogen, and should be lower than the ‘K’ for potassium.

Check the instructions that came with your plant for how often you should fertilize your particular type of tomato plant, but do treat it with a serve of potash when flowers first develop and regularly while they’re producing fruit.

Companion planting

If you’re only planting one tomato plant, you can use the spare room in your planter to grow additional vegetables, herbs or other plants. There are some plants that are believed to grow very well with others, and this is called companion planting.

French marigolds may help tomato growing

French marigolds may help prevent root tapeworm (Pic: Reaperman GFDL)

Plants that are believed to grow well along-side tomato plants include French marigolds (which are said to help prevent root knot nematode (tapeworm) and repel fruit fly), basil (which helps repel mosquitoes and flies), chives, dill, mint, parsley and onion.

Bad companion plants that shouldn’t be with tomatoes include rosemary, potato, fennel, beetroot and sweet corn. Their roots can release substances that may inhibit root growth of the tomato plant.

Learn more about tomato growing

Remember to download your free copy of the tomato growing eBook from HomeLeisure, which contains even more advice, and to read the instructions and information that comes with the plants in the nursery.

Good luck with your tomato growing!