Welcome to my website which is about growing organic vegetable sustainably. My Garden Ecobeds use very little water and only homemade compost to maintain strong growth, and they produce lots of healthy nutritious organic food all year round. You can find out more about them on my page at http://jashxxxxxx.blogspot.com.au/p/wicking-beds-plus.html..............................................John Ashworth 27th November 2017.
Latest Update 31st December 2018.
grow 9 Tomato plants in Ecobeds, but only a couple of varieties each year because of space limitations. I always grow Tommy Toe which is an heirloom cherry style tomato and is very sweet and productive. The second one is usually changed every year, but eventually I will settle on another stalwart and stick with them both.
Tomatoes are self pollinating, but they do need help from buzz pollinators like native Australian bees or strong winds to dislodge their pollen. To be sure of a good harvest, I hand pollinate them with an electric toothbrush.
Check out my blogpage which explains how I maintain productivity in my Ecobeds. It describes
how soil is prepared prior to planting, the importance of rainwater in
Ecobeds, how to regulate the sun's intensity and how to feed plants
through their leaves.
Check out my blogpage which tells you when to sow seeds.
Sow enough to produce 6 individual Tommy Toe seedlings and 3 individual Grosse Lisse seedlings, and as soon as they open their first set of true leaves, transplant them individually into small fibre pots.
Prepare the soil in the designated bed by removing spent mulch and the above ground remains of any previous crop. The roots must be left in the soil and the soil must not be dug. I consider it vital not to disturbed the soil any more than is necessary to maintain and develop a great soil structure and active soil biology.
Apply a generous top dressing of roughly sieved fresh homemade compost (60 mm) and cover this with a similar thickness of organic straw mulch.
Apply a single piece of light horticultural fleece over the mulch and tie it down securely to the bed's hooking points. Cut holes about 60mm wide at the planting positions so the seedlings can be sown. This arrangement helps limit water losses and protects the young plants from digging pests.
Provide vertical support
for the tomatoes before they are planted. I sink 1800mm long stakes into the soil directly under an exclusion frame horizontal rail and screw the stake into the rail for stability. The stakes are positioned where the tomatoes are to grow and each plant has its own stake.
Plant the tomato seedlings, when ready, in the prepared bed using a large dibber.
Plant them 500mm apart along 3 rows which are set 600mm apart. Plant them deep through the compost and mulch into the soil, and water the pots in generously with dilute seaweed extract.
out side shoots as they grow until the plants reach the top of the stakes. At this point, nip out the leader shoots to stop further vertical growth. This will maximise
the size and quality of the fruit already set.
I always grow a few basil companion plants between my tomatoes, and apart from deterring flying pests, their leaves make a fine condiment when tomatoes are cooked or preserved.
Harvesting and Storage.
Tomatoes should be ready for harvested by mid January.
mine before birds and other pests become too attracted to them when they have just started to turn yellow or orange. They don't need sunlight to fully ripen, just keep them in a warm, shady spot indoors.
If you prefer to ripen them on the vine, protect them with pest exclusion net bags.
Store tomato surpluses in preserving jars by blanching
them in boiling water for 2 minutes, cooling them rapidly in cold water and
Pack them in the jars with chopped basil leaves, salt and pepper (to taste),
and sterilise them in a pressure cooker (lowest setting) for about 5 minutes. Don't add water, they should pack down well in their own juice.
Cool slowly before removing them from the cooker. Rinse the
outside of the bottles, dry and label them.
Store them in a cool, low light room in racks until required.
are self pollinating, however the pollen grains are securely held on
the plant's anthers. Moderate vibration will release this pollen and
often a strong breeze will be enough.
Bumble bees buzz pollinate tomatoes by grabbing the tomato flower and
vibrating their flight muscles vigorously. Honey bees don't use this
technique and consequently they are not very efficient tomato pollinators.
mainland Australia where there are no bumble bees, we must rely on native bees
(like the blue banded bee) or the wind. Both are unreliable in suburban
To ensure a good fruit set, buzz pollinate by hand. I do this using an electric toothbrush. See Video
Organic Pest Control.
like most vegetables, are vulnerable to attack from certain pests in my
garden. My blog on "Controlling Garden Pests" explains a
little about them and what to do to protect plants from them. For details click on the appropriate link below.