Tomatoes are the hero of the backyard veggie garden and we absolutely love growing them in our Vegepods every year for their amazing sweet fruit- the taste of summer!
Not only do tomatoes taste much sweeter when homegrown, they are easy to grow and fruit quickly for a fast late spring/summer crop. There is also nothing quite like the feeling of picking your own tomatoes and adding them to a fresh Caprese salad or creating a home-made pasta sauce!
Here are our top tips to get started growing your own tommies in the Vegepod:
Choose the right size Vegepod what you want to grow
Choosing the right size pod is important as the larger the Vegepod, the more tomato plants you will be able to fit. If the whole pod is dedicated to tomatoes, our small Vegepod will fit around 2-3 plants, the medium Vegepod will fit around 4-6 plants and large Vegepod around 7-12 plants.
Filling your Vegepod with premium potting mix
Choosing a premium quality potting mix will mean that your tommies have a great foundation to get growing and provide you with a bumper harvest that tastes a million times better than supermarket bought tomatoes. Look out for a premium mix marked with the red 'Premium Standard' label including the 5 ticks.
Choose the right tomato variety for you
There are two main types of tomatoes to look out when you go to your garden centre- determinate and indeterminate. These are really just fancy words for one grows really tall and needs staking, and the other is a more dwarf height/self-supporting.
Indeterminate (tall growing) tomatoes can reach anywhere from 1.2m in height and up and require staking- these are able to be grown in the pod but will need more staking and spacing in the Vegepod. You can also manage taller growing varieties in the pod by horizontal staking along trellises as this will keep them compact under the pod canopy. Our top variety choices include San Marzano, Grosse Lisse and Tommy Toe.
Determinate (shorter/dwarf/bush) tomatoes can grow anywhere from 50cm-80cm in height and are much more manageable under the Vegepod canopy while still producing a decent amount of fruit. You can grow these without staking if you like, but we suggest one stake to support the main stem just in case of strong winds. Great determinate varieties include Patio, Tiny Tim, German Dwarf, Red Robin, Pot Tom and Pot Roma.
Staking & maintaining your tomatoes
If growing a taller variety of tomato, staking will need to be continuous as the plant grows taller and needs more support as the fruit gets larger. We like to use tall bamboo or wooden stakes and soft ties (a fabric or budding tape material works well as to not restrict the plant stem), specially made tomato cages are also available from garden centres for a ready-made solution.
Removing the lower leaves of the tomato plant when planting will help prevent any disease spreading up the plant- this will also focus the energy into fruit growth instead of leaf growth. This will leave you with one main central stem that will give you a strong tomato plant for easier maintenance.
Consistent watering & feeding
When using a Vegepod, it is important to water seeds and seedlings daily for a week-two weeks after planting to help them settle in and for the reservoir to fill up underneath. However, after that the reservoir will have enough water to keep the tomatoes healthy and the roots should have established themselves in the soil. Tomatoes are thirsty so the reservoirs and wicking beds will provide them with the perfect growing environment especially through the warmer summer months.
As they are providing fruit, tomatoes need to be fed regularly to keep on churning out that beautiful produce! Use our Vegepod Booster diluted in your watering can and water on fortnightly for healthy and strong plants.
Just because they can take up more space in your Vegepod, doesn’t mean you can’t plant other edible plants with your tommies! Try companion planting with herbs like basil, parsley, chives and edible flowers like marigolds to make good use of the room in between tomato plants in your pod.