This is a much more important decision than you would think on the surface.
Deciding what you can fit into the space that you have is important but the other considerations that you must include are value for money and nutritional value to you and your family.
Vegetable prices have been so erratic and unstable recently that it is almost anyone’s guess what next week will be like but here are some lists to help you decide.
Firstly here is a list in order of the ‘space’ occupied by the plant for the $ benefit derived.
3. Bunching onions
4. Leaf lettuce
6. Onion bulbs
8. Podded peas
12. Kohl rabi
14. Mustard Greens
You will notice that I have omitted potatoes, Brassicas, celery, corn, squash and melons because the space they consume for the produce derived is only worth it if you have space to waste which very few people do.
Secondly, the nutritional value, including fibre of the vegetables that you plant is profoundly important.
Here is another list of ‘nutritional value for space occupied:
1. Ceylon Spinach
2. Lablab beans
5. Sweet potatoes
7. Mustard greens
8. Chinese Mini Cabbage
9. Cos Lettuce
10. Perpetual Spinach
12. Swiss chard
15. Yam Bean
20. Onion & Radish
Now, you need to think about what you actually ‘like’ to eat and then your decision is ‘good to grow’.
Tomato seed is probably the easiest seed for a gardener to germinate and it is not unusual for gardeners to base their gardening confidence on success with this fruit.
Some insist that the seeds need to be soaked before planting but this is unnecessary and it is highly possible to damage seed when taking it from a soft submersive environment to a coarse soil one.
Sowing in soil, fill your pot, tamp it down lightly, spread your seed, sprinkle seed raise mix over the seed to cover it, water gently and then leave them alone to do what they do best.
Preparing for planting
Tomatoes must be planted in full sun—they don’t like shade at all! Like most vegetables, tomatoes do best in relatively loose soil rich in organic matter.
If you don’t have soil like this, you’ll want to work in some compost, composted manure, or another soil amendment a week or more before planting into the bed(s) where your tomatoes will be planted.
Many growers use plastic mulch for their tomatoes because the plastic can increase yields, reduce disease, and give you an earlier crop with little or no weeding. You do not need to use plastic to have healthy, productive tomatoes, but if you don’t you will want to mulch with something else (leaves, straw, cardboard, etc.) to prevent weed problems.
On the day of planting, you should have some tools (a trowel and a hose connected to water), and some organic fertilizer handy.
It’s tempting to plant tomatoes too close together because they’re small when you transplant them.
If you do this, your plants will compete with each other for light, water, and nutrients and/or grow into each other such that harvesting is difficult.
Most tomato varieties should be planted at least 60 cm apart, and 90 cm is better. Cherry tomatoes should be planted 1.2m apart.
Care after planting
Once your tomatoes are planted, they don’t need much care besides caging or staking and perhaps occasional watering.
If you have used plastic mulch, you may not need to weed at all. If you haven’t, you will want to weed around them thoroughly until mid-November and then mulch.
All tomatoes should be caged or staked and tied beginning shortly after transplanting. Cages are simplest and work well, but ONLY IF you buy or make cages that are tall enough and strong enough to hold up a mature tomato plant.
The short, narrow wire style (about 60 cm tall, with three little pieces you stick into the ground) sold in many garden supply stores are completely useless for most common tomatoes.
Though you can buy good cages, the best cages are homemade wire cages made of concrete reinforcing wire or woven-wire stock fencing. If made properly, these can be used for many years (and you can store them in the garden over the winter).