There’s nothing like backyard fresh tomatoes. We asked Mark Cullen, expert gardener, author and broadcaster, for tips on growing our own.
1 Buy short, stocky plants â€¨with dark green foliage.
2 When there’s no danger â€¨of frost, dig a hole about the size of a half-bushel, or â€¨three shovelfuls.
3 Fill the hole with triple mix (one-third top soil, one-third peat moss and one-third compost or composted cattle/steer manure).
4 Plant the tomato deeply — up to the second set of real leaves. Push the soil firmly around the main stem of the tomato to give the soil and plant contact.
5 Water using a compost tea solution (soak an old pillow case half-filled with compost in your rain barrel for 24 hours or up to a week — no longer or it will begin to stink).
6 Stake in mid-June using a spiral aluminum stake. No tying, no fuss. Tip: Getting your tomatoes up off the ground â€¨will double your crop.
7 Fertilize with your favourite tomato food. Keep in mind that tomatoes are heavy feeders. Follow directions on the fertilizer package or continue â€¨to water with compost tea.
8 In July, apply Bordo mixture â€¨to prevent early blight.
Mark’s latest book is The Canadian Garden Primer, An Organic Approach, available at Home Hardware and major bookstores. www.markcullen.com