Last year my Dad gave me 6 tomato plants for Xmas and we planted them on Boxing Day. This is my first crop but it's been pretty fun. 

A good friend shared these tips with me and I thought there may be some other growers out there who might be interested.

1. Don't plant too early. Tomatoes need heat to grow - if the ground is still cold they will get stressed which leaves them susceptible to pests and diseases.

2. If growing in a pot give them plenty of root room. For a 200cm tall plant use a 40+ litre pot. Add water-retaining crystals and mulch around the top (dry lawn clippings will also work). Don't put the pot directly on concrete or stones as the residual heat in mid-summer will cook the roots. Elevate the pot with timber or bricks.

3. Plant deep. Remove the leaves halfway up the plant and bury up to the next leaves. The buried stem will grow roots, which enables the plant to access more water and nutrients.

4. Do not over water, especially when young, as this will make new growth too soft and less resistant to fluctuating temperatures and wind.

5. Once the fruit is set, keep moisture levels consistent. If they have uneven water levels at this stage the fruit can grow grainy.

6. Dwarf and determinate (growing to a set height) should not be delateraled as once it has reached it's set height it can only bush out. Cut the laterals with sharp secateurs as ripping them can wound the stem and expose the plant to diseases. Delateral your plants on a fine day so that the wound can heal. Remove leaves off all tomatoes that are 20 to 30cm from ground level. 

William McCallum