We get a lot of questions about how to grow the best tomatoes and cucumbers possible and actually with these few tips, it’s not at all difficult.
Sun and Heat
They both require at least six hours of direct, preferably afternoon, sunlight. Eight hours is even better. And be sure to plant only after there is no risk of frost – or else be sure to cover them well with plastic or glass domes (cut off 2 litre pop bottles work well as small greenhouses) placed over the individual plants.
Ensure your soil is rich in organic matter, is well drained and slightly acidic. Lay the plants slightly deeper than they were in their pots. If the plants are really “leggy”, lay them gently on their side so that part of the stem is buried.
Look to the tag to learn the important details. For example, some ‘tiny tim’ tomato varieties form in small bush-like plants, and patio snacker cucumbers work well climbing up a trellis in a pot on your deck, whereas other longer-season plants may need a lot of room and staking. Stake tall-growing varieties to keep the foliage and fruit off the ground.
For tomatoes, pinch the suckers from the vines as these leaves don’t bear fruit and use up energy that can instead be going to fruit production. Suckers are a cluster of leaves in the spot where the branch and the stem meet. They can also be identified as the leaves without attached flower buds or fruit. When your plant grows to a height of 65 to 90 centimetres, remove its lower leaves from the bottom 25 centimeters of the stem as they’re the first to develop fungus problems. Regularly pinching off the new growth also keeps the plant open so that the sun can reach the fruit to speed up ripening.
Cucumbers require minimal pruning. Prune off old leaves that are yellowing – that’s all it needs!
Mulching helps to retain moisture while also reducing the amount of water and soil that splashes back onto the foliage or the veggies themselves. Back-splashes of water transfer soil-borne pathogens onto the plant, leading to disease problems.
Give your tomatoes and cucumbers a regular supply of moisture – about 3-4 cm (1-1/2 inches) of water per week when they’re fruiting. When first planted, a tomato transplant -depending on your climate, humidity and type of soil- will need to be watered every day as needed (e.g., when weather is warmer they will require more water). After it settles in, water less often.
Feed lightly with a low-nitrogen fertilizer when the plant starts to flower; try 12-0-44. A top dressing of compost is great too. Don’t overfeed or add too much compost though as that can mean the plant continually puts out more leaves as opposed to fruit.
We have once again hand selected our favourite varieties of vegetables for you. These veggies are known-performers, grown from seed in the greenhouse and are pesticide-free.
We have patio tomatoes galore – some already in bloom which means you might have the first tomatoes around. Prices are $11.99 for one and $19.99 for two. That saves you a lot of money as a pint of mini-tomatoes in the grocery store is usually priced around $2.99.
Alternatively we have veggie and herb planters for your deck – containing a mix of plants, or hanging baskets of Tumbling Tom tomatoes (priced at $24.99).