Solanums ( Heat loving)

 

Cool climate areas need special attention to grow these plants successfully.

Bear in mind that they are heat loving plants.
To get the best out of a cool climate, I strongly recommend that:

You grow these plants from seed indoors at first

having selected varieties that are known performers for cool climate environments.

You cloche the seedlings when first setting them out and allow them to outgrow

the cloche into the more stable temperatures that exist in December through March.

Feed the plants well with COF in side dressings and be consistent with watering.

Young seedlings have the most difficulty in dealing with the cool climate.

Do not expect ripe fruit from capsicums, chillies or egg plants until the end of summer.

Tomatoes are the most tolerant of this family in cool climate.

Fertilising too much in the early months of growth can have disastrous effects.

The plants are destined to feed on the moisture provided in the bed.

If this contains an over abundance of nutrient they have no choice but to uptake this.

A young plant that is not growing rapidly cannot build new leaf tissue with these nutrients ,

so salt levels build up, often reaching toxic concentrations and ultimately stunting the plant growth.

Solanums are shocked with temperatures lower than 10 degrees.

A cloche surrounding the seedling will support temperatures of 2-3 degrees warmer than the outside air.

This often makes the difference between stability and a severe setback for night time temperatures in early Spring.

Solanums need a soil pH between 5.5 and 7.5 to grow successfully. This is easily achievable in most gardens.

Tomatoes

Prepare the bed using 4 litres of COF for 10 square metres of bed area.

This fertiliser will start to release about 10 days after watering which is ideal for transplanting.

Transplant your seedlings. ( read above for my recommendations about growing your own indoors from seed)

Solanums are open pollinated so they produce true to seed despite other varieties in the near vicinity.

Place your transplants in cloches at 80cm x 80 cm spacings to allow best growth and earliest flower set.

Drive a 2 metre stake beside the seedling making sure you do not fracture its established root structure.

As the plant grows, tie it loosely to the stake for support.

Pinch out the laterals as they appear until the plant reaches the top of the stake.

At this point you should have about 6-8 sets of flower clusters.

Each of these should ripen tomatoes at different times.

They will ripen from the bottom progressively during nights that are warmer ( between 16-24 degrees Celsius)

If you want early tomatoes in cool climate you will need to take the trouble to heat their environment.

Choose a bush variety that does not need staking and place the plants under a cloche of plastic at 1.2 metre spacings.

 

A cloche made from firm 2.5 cm poly tubing domed into steel rods either side of your bed would be fine.

Cover this with plastic after setting your tomatoes in the ground.

You probably need these on a dripper system so that you don't need to remove the plastic.

The Plants should fill the cloche by mid December and you should have ripe tomatoes by late January

provided we do not get an abnormally cool year.

Tomatoes do not like wind, so protect them with a clear plastic shelter if you need to grow them in a windy position.

Commercially tomatoes are grown on string suspended from a wire in a hot house.

The growing plant is trained around the string as it grows and the laterals are religiously pinched out when they form.

A healthy tomato plant will set 5-8 trusses of tomatoes on a stake so you should have no worries about pinching out the laterals.

This keeps the plants open and prevents fungal diseases from becoming established.

Tomatoes must have consistent watering for their uptake of calcium to set a firm skin.

If this does not occur they are prone to a condition known as "Blossom End Rot".

This is ia deficiency in calcium, not in the soil necessarily but usually in the plant's uptake due to inconsistent watering.

Blossom end rot in tomatoes

Saving your own seed.

If you are happy with the tomatoes you have grown and wish to have the same experience next year,

choose a perfect tomato and set it aside to become overripe ( yes! almost rotten).

When this occurs, place the tomato into a small container of water so that the water completely covers the tomato.

The temperature of this needs to be maintained at about 20 degrees Celsius.

The tomato will ferment and the pulp will rise to the surface, leaving the viable seed on the bottom.

Some of the seed may float to the top. Discard this as most probably it would not have been viable seed any way.

After 3 to 5 days, remove the pulp , strain the seed through a sieve and wash thoroughly.

Spread the remaining seed on a piece of absorbent kitchen towel to dry.

You can fold up this towel and when you need to plant next season's seed,

you can tear off sections of the towel containing the seed and plant these directly into a punnet

and cover with a few mm of soil.

Saturate the punnet by placing it in a shallow dish of water.

The soil will take up the moisture and germinate the seed readily.

Keep the punnet of germinated seed moist . When the seedlings appear keep them moist .

When they have 4 true leaves you can transplant them into individual seedling trays.

Varieties for Cool Climate

I grow :

Tiny Tom grows strongly in Tasmania's climate and bears heavily. Tomatoes don't seem to ripen evenly on the trusses,

so it is important to keep picking the reddish tomatoes to let the others ripen properly.

These small tomatoes are great for salads, with a wonderful flavour.

 

 

 

 

 

Yellow Pear is a later variety.

This tomato bears heavily and keeps on producing until late in the season.

The yellow tomatoes add great colour to salads and their flavour is fantastic.

I become a tomatoholic in the garden during February and March.

I can't keep away from the Tiny Tom and the Yellow pear bushes.

2-3 plants will give you plenty of salad tomatoes over late Summer.

 

 

 

 

 

Roma is a traditional fleshy variety with fewer seeds than other tomatoes.

It is very popular for making sauce, but it is great cooked on toast for breakfast also.

 

 

 

 

 

Grosse Lisse ( variant) I sow a Grosse Lisse cross with a variety called Red Cloud.

This tomato is large and fairly round so it is great for sandwiches.

A hint for putting tomato in sandwiches so they don't go soggy.

Cut the tomato and place the slices between two pieces of paper kitchen towel for 5 minutes before placing them on the bread.

This dries them out somewhat and keeps the sandwich dry.

I save my seed each year and am completely happy with these varieties for range of ripening,

size and quantity of fruit.

Also the appeal of having a yellow tomato in salads over late summer is special.

Yellow Pear adds great colour to salads and fruits prolifically.

 

I also recommend you try the varieties available from thelostseed.com.au for cool climates.

Deutscher Fleiss

 

 

 

 

 

Campbell

 

 

 

 

 

Video segments on Tomato Care

1. Control of lateral growth

Capsicums

Capsicums are best grown in a cloche in a cool climate to give them maximum heat.

I use a cloche made from reomesh and place an old window pane on the top to really make their environment consistently warm.

Naturally you must feed them well and give them plenty of water.

Place the seedlings at 30 cm spacings or greater for best results.

Fertigation with Comfrey tea works well as well, but don't expect red capsicum until late late Summer.

You will get lots of green ones , but without the warm night temperatures they don't turn red.

Capsicum cloche

 

 

 

 

Peppers

These plants must not be planted in the open soil prior to mid November for best results.

You can grow the seeds indoors if you wish from September on and transplant the seedlings into beds that have been prepared with COF

and lined with black plastic for best results .

Transplant seedlings to 60x60 cm centres to give the plants maximum root space to take up the nutrients available.

Feed every 2-3 weeks with a handful of COF around the perimeter of the plant to maximise the availability of nutrient.

Peppers ripen through green yellow and red. By the end of the season in a cool climate- about mid March,

much of the fruit will have formed but will remain green. By pulling out the plants and hanging them in a cool dry area,

much of the fruit will ripen.

A good variety to grow in Tasmania is Cayenne Long Thin, available from The Lost Seed

Potatoes ( see roots family) These plants are technically of the Solanum family.

but I have chosen to include them with root vegetables as they have similar growing conditions.

Eggplant ( Aubergine)

Eggplant is not a vegetable for cool climates.

Of all the solanum family this would be the most difficult to grow in Tasmania and other cool climate areas.

If you must have a go, you must use a cloche and feed the young plants well.

They require consistent watering. You will ripen eggplant towards the end of February,

but quite frankly it is not a vegetable I would bother with in a cool climate.

There are so many others that supply the same level of nutrient for far less care in a cool climate.

Another aid is to cover the bed with balck plastic to keep the soil at optimum temperature.

Place your seedlings into pockets of COF lined soil so that you are giving them the best opportunity.

These plants develop optimally at temperatures between 21 and 35 degrees celcius.

Cool climate areas experience these temperatures sometimes only- not as an average.

Sorry to be unenthusiastic, but this is a vegetable that will bring more disappointments for the effort than most oithers.

The variety most suitable for Tasmania is Black Beauty, obtainable at The Lost Seed

 

 

 

 

 

This page was last updated on10/11/2013