Gardening With Brisbane Kids – Cherry Tomatoes
Getting Started With Cherry Tomatoes
First column from our ‘Gardening with Brisbane Kids’ expert and Nashville State School Prep Teacher, Sue McKenzie.
There are many fabulous benefits to be gained from gardening with young children. These include getting outside in the fresh air, learning about the science of growing things, and the nutritional benefits of eating fresh food. Children learn patience as they wait for their plant to grow and they also learn responsibility in caring for a living thing and providing for its needs.
An easy plant to get started with is Cherry Tomatoes. They are simple to grow, reasonably disease free and produce delicious little tomatoes that your child can simply pick and eat straight from the bush. You don’t need a large space, a large pot is sometimes the easiest way to get started. I would suggest a pot of larger than 30cm diameter as this will give your plant room to grow, it will not dry out too quickly and you can monitor it easily for any pest activity. Choose a nice sunny spot and fill your pot with a good quality potting mix. This will ensure that the plant has all of its nutritional requirements and will retain moisture. Choose a variety of cherry tomato and plant into your soil. Give it a good watering and wait for it to grow. Please note that pots do dry out at a faster rate than plants in the garden and will need watering every couple of days. To check if your tomato needs watering poke your finger into the soil a centimetre or so and if it feels dry, give it some water.
If your plant begins to get too tall tie it securely to a stake. This serves the dual function of keeping both foliage and fruit away from the damp soil and encourages good ventilation around the plant which prevents fungal activity. When your tomatoes start to flower give them some liquid fertilizer every fortnight and you will be enjoying your own tomatoes in 8-10 weeks from planting. Cherry tomatoes are a great and easy way to introduce your child to the wonderful world of gardening.