The garden advice you need for a bumper crop of tomatoes

There is something wholesome, straight-to-the-point and down-to-earth about a gardener. My mother and my maternal grandfather were gardeners...

There is something wholesome, straight-to-the-point and down-to-earth about a gardener. My mother and my maternal grandfather were gardeners and they, along with every true gardener I know, have no qualms about speaking the obvious and saying what must be done.

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com.au || a good showing of hippeastrum for spring 2017
I'll often head into my garden to ponder a problem, sitting with it while pulling weeds or digging deep into the soil to see what I'll find there. When the problem is actually about what I should do in the garden I try and conjure my Pop and ask him what he'd do. Often the answer I hear back is "pull it out, start again". Brutal.

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com.au || garden advice from vintage Australian garden books
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com.au || a good showing of evening primrose for spring 2017
While my Mum's advice on the garden is always sound, week-to-week I turn to the no-nonsense voices of Australian newspaper garden columnists of the 1940s and '60s, particulary the Herald Sun's former garden writer Olive Mellor and the Daily Telegraph's P.J. Hurley. 

I regularly dip into Hurley's This Week In Your Garden; a collection of his garden columns signed off in his pen name Waratah. In November, he points to the success, in 1962, of the year's jacaranda showing. He writes: "too much autumn and winter rain spoils their blossom beauty". If writing his column in 2017, he'd have probably said the same of this year's spectacular blooms.

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com.au || a good showing of jasmine for spring 2017
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com.au || P.J. Hurley's This Week In Your Garden and other vintage garden books

Olive Mellor's notes in a 1940 Garden Lover's Log, written to aid the Australian Red Cross, mention how, in the last weeks of November, to get the best out of tomatoes. 

"Continue to pinch back the leafy side shoots from the tomatoes. The object of the pinching out of the growths is to conserve the strength of the plant for fruit development," she writes.

Both Hurley and Mellor say the bulk of the garden's work for summer and autumn cropping should be done by the first weeks of December, which means I need to get a wriggle on. 

I hope your garden is faring well and ready to weather the coming summer. 

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2 comments

  1. Beautiful photos, Katie... and I love that old-fashioned advice about tomatoes. I never seem to have luck with mine, unless they are self sown and then they grow like Topsy! I have yet to finish off work in my kitchen garden. The strawberry patch is flourishing, and I've laid down sugarcane mulch. Next is to dig out 90% of the spearmint, which has taken over one bed, then top up all the beds with good sandy loam and some compost, before planting. I'm running late, I know... decluttering, home renovations and a new puppy seem to be taking priority!

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    1. There's always something else, isn't there? Our strawberries have done really well this year too. We had fruit right through from July and I ate one this morning - was by far the sweetest and most delicious of the whole crop.

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