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Tommies in May?

Tommies in May?

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If you are determined to grow tomatoes, why not try some of the wonderful array of heirloom varieties with diverse colours and flavours.

It’s too late in the season now to worry much about tomatoes, right? Well, in some cases yes, it’s too late. The first frosts have arrived in cold districts killing off tomato vines and causing the fruit to spoil. But in marginal districts, frost might be yet to bite and there’s time to get the last of the season’s fruit to ripen to perfection.

The trick is to rip out your tomato vines, roots and all, and hang them upside down in a warm shed. The vines will gradually wither, but the fruit will continue to ripen and can be harvested once it starts to blush. then if conditions are really starting to cool off, the fruit can be brought indoors and ripened in a warm kitchen.

Another way to extend the season is to cover remaining vines with clear plastic. This will act as a makeshift greenhouse, creating warmth and sheltering the fruit from cold nights. Better still, in cold areas you could still be ripening fruit at a temperature of about 20 to 24 degrees in an unheated polytunnel. These are used extensively in Tassie, and are one the tricks professional growers use to keep the harvest coming into winter.

Of course, if you live in the frost-free subtropics and districts further north, your tomato growing season is just starting to kick off. Take advantage of the drier weather and the reduction in fruit fly numbers to grow healthy tomato plants with little risk of disease and fruit that makes July fee like January. Don’t forget the potash. Tommies absolutely love it!