Growing Tomatoes from Seed – It’s easier than you think!

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I recently bought some seeds from the Nursery so I could prepare to grow this years tomatoes, these seeds are cherry tomatoes known as ‘Sweetie’. I’ve also got some seeds left over from when I saved some seeds from nice tomato I bought.

Using the method detailed in an earlier post on How to Make Newspaper Pots I made 9 pots out of my local news paper.npaperpots2.jpg

Tomatoes need a fine well drained seedling mix to grow, it’s best to pre wet the seedling mix prior to putting it into the pots. Put however much mix you require into a bucket and add a small amount of water, it needs to be about as wet as a wrung out sponge. Fill your pots and tap on a table to get the mix all the way to the bottom.

I planted my seeds about 5mm beneath the soil, this is the ideal depth for tomatoes. In 4 of the pots I made the hole deeper (10mm) and placed one grain of Osmocote, then back-filled to 5mm to plant the seed. I am trialing this method to see if I get stronger plants. If you are planting different varieties of tomato, make sure you label them so you know what variety is what.

Germination of the seed usually takes 10 days, keep them in a sheltered position which gets some sunlight.

After germination I intend to water the seedlings with diluted worm wee, see my post on Compost Worms for the full details, to give them an organic boost.

After they have formed two real leaves, place the tomato seedlings in the sun for short periods 3 hours at a time to get them used to full sun. This is called hardening off.tomseed.jpg

Tomatoes have a great feature, you can plant them at any depth and the fine hairs on their stems will grow roots! This works in the gardeners favour, as you can plant them out laying on their sides, which in turn will grow more roots and give you a stronger plant.

You need to plant the tomatoes out into warm soil after the last frost in your area. As the weather warms up, the tomato plant will begin to flower and produce.

Fruit should be picked when red and slightly soft. Refrigeration is needed if you intend to keep your tomatoes for more than a week.

How to Grow Passionfruit

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Passionfruit Vine - Panama RedGrowing Passionfruit is not nearly as hard as people make it out to be. In-fact growing your own fresh passionfruit is very easy, and I’ll share my experiences with you.

Like most plants, passionfruit needs a well drained soil, water, nutrients and some care.

Firstly you will need something to grow the passionfruit on, as they are a climber a trellis or mesh fence is a great starting point. It needs to be strong, as over the next couple of years your passionfruit is going to hang off it. You don’t want to have it collapse in a heap.

You will need to condition the soil you want to grow the passionfruit, dig the hole three to four times as big as the pot the plant came in. Make it a big wide dish shaped hole. Try not to mix the sub soil with the top soil too much. Maybe make a pile for the top soil, and a pile for the sub soil, put the subsoil back in first followed by the top soil.

Passionfruit are gross feeders, which means you will need to feed them a lot of nutrients over their life time. Set aside the dirt that came from the hole and mix it with well rotted cow, sheep or horse manure as well as some blood and bone. My grandmother always put some offal (liver, heart etc) in the hole and covered it over before planting, over time this would break down into a great nutritious food for the passionfruit.

Indirectly water the area with a sprinkler so the water can permeate slowly, not breaking down the soils composition. This may take two hours to get all the way through, a wetting agent such as Wetasol can be used to speed up the process.


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Planting out Passionfruit Vines
Dig a hole in the prepared soil, gently remove the vine from the pot and tease the roots. A healthy plant should have white outer roots, this indicates new healthy growth. Old brown roots are still ok, but the plant is not in it’s optimal state. It’s good to check the roots of plants at the nursary to see that they are healthy before you buy them.

Place the passionfruit vine into the hole and cover with soil. Ensure you do not cover the trunk above it’s original ground level.

Gently water the plant to remove any air bubbles around the roots.

Mulch generously if you live in a warm climate, this will help keep the ground around the plant cool and prevent moisture loss.

Growing Passionfruit from Seed
There has been many requests for the method of growing Passionfruit from seed. Before we begin, the result of your seedling may not grow the same fruit as the vine that it came from.

Step 1
Remove the fruit’s seeds and wash the yellow pulp from around the seed (I like to put the seeds in my mouth and eat the pulp then spit the seeds in a bowl). Plant seeds right away in seed-raising mix. You can plant more than 1 seed per pot, just put them a few centimeters apart, separate them when they grow larger. Cover lightly with mix (~1cm), water them well and put in a warm spot to germinate.

Step 2
Your new plants should pop up in 14-28 days.

Step 3
Once the plants are ~5cm tall, separate them into individual pots. To help the plants grow upright, include a stick or small growing frame in the pot to ensure they don’t droop over the outside. In 12 months your seedlings should be flowering.

Varieties include Nellie Kelly , Red Ambrosia, Panama Red, Panama Gold, and Sunnypash. The golden varieties are better suited to more tropical climates and growers may have problems with fruit ripening in cooler districts of the southwest. Passionfruit have relatively short life of between 5-6 years as they are so vigorous and heavy fruiting.

Above is a photo of my new passionfruit vine. It is a Panama Red, and the fruit will grow to be around 5cm in diameter. I have mulched the soil with rotted horse manure, and I will cover that with shredded newspaper. The fence is to keep my dog from digging it up. I have installed temporary shade cloth (70%) to the galvinized iron fence and the other side of the mesh to provide some protection from the hot sun. I will remove this when the plant becomes established.

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