Western Australia’s climate is great for growing tomatoes and is perfect for gardens in Perth and the surrounding area. The season of sun and warmer temperatures is long, giving tomatoes plenty of time to grow and produce bumper crops.
Basically, all varieties of tomatoes can thrive in Perth’s warm climate, so our plant and garden experts wanted to provide this care guide for garden enthusiasts in the area. Knowing what to plant when in Perth can help you get the most out of your Perth backyard garden.
Understanding tomato varieties within Perth’s Climate
Like many crops we know and love, there are several tomato types that you can crow in Perth. These are broken down into the following three general types:
- Determinate tomato plants are more compact and smaller in size. They grow for some time, then hit their mature height and usually do not get any taller or larger.
- Indeterminate tomato plants keep growing and can get quite massive in size. They grow all season long, which means they can get quite tall and large by the end of the season.
- Semi-determinate varieties are a mix of these two. They grow all year long but are smaller and bushy than indeterminate but usually larger than determinate varieties.
What are the best tomato varieties for Perth?
When you are ready to choose the tomatoes you want to grow in Perth, there are many options. Popular tomato varieties that thrive in backyard gardens in Perth include:
- Gross Lisse
- Sweet Cherry Gold
- Tommy Toe
- Black Russian
And more! These are just some of our favourites to plant, harvest and enjoy eating.
When to plant tomatoes in Perth
Tomatoes thrive in warm temperatures and sun, so spring and summer are the ideal time to plan for harvests. This means August and September are the ideal time to start planting your tomato plants in Perth.
Our gardening experts recommend staggering your plantings and adding new ones to your garden every month to extend the harvest months and get fresh tomatoes coming in for much longer.
Tomatoes can be planted in Perth as late as February, but you will have a much shorter growing season. This means you must choose a variety that will grow and mature to harvest quickly. Cherry tomatoes grow quickly, produce a decent-sized crop, and are well suited for this situation. On the reverse side, varieties like Beefsteak are not ideal for short seasons as their larger size means more growing time is needed.
How to grow tomatoes in Perth
While they are very easy to grow and care for, you must follow some basic guidelines to get the most out of your tomato crop. Our tomato care pros offer these tips for growing tomatoes in Perth and the surrounding areas:
1. Soil and location preparation
Tomatoes tolerate most soil types as long as some basic parameters are met. Generally speaking, tomatoes thrive in well-drained soil with good organic matter content. They will do particularly well in loam or sandy loam soils that have compost incorporated into it. They do the best in slightly acidic soils with a pH level between 5 to 7. Fertiliser, manure, and organic matter can be worked into the soil to boost nutrient content during planting.
2. Planting techniques
Planting tomatoes from seeds can be done with the following steps:
- If the soil temperature remains at 15 degrees Celsius or higher, tomato seeds can be planted directly into your garden space.
- This usually is around September to October in Perth.
- Talk to your local garden centre for tips on what varieties are best suited for your area and what tomatoes do best from seeds.
- Follow package instructions for planting, but generally, seeds need to be planted on shallow divets in the soil and kept moist.
- Once planted, keep the seeds well watered and protect them from birds and wildlife until they start to sprout a few weeks later.
Tomato plant seedlings and starters can be grown with the following steps:
- You can buy tomato plant seedling starters in most garden centres when the season rolls around to start planting them in your garden.
- Choose a variety that will fit your space requirements and the growing season you are prepared for.
- Plant in your garden, keeping them at the same depth as in the original containers or pots.
- Follow care instructions for watering and sun exposure as they get established.
- As the plants grow, you may need to provide support to keep them supported as they start producing tomatoes.
3. Caring for your tomato plants
Watering is critical for tomato plants at all stages of growth. Seedlings and new plantings need to be watered while they get established so they do not dry out and dry as the root systems develop. Young plants need a lot of water to fuel the foliage’s growth, promoting photosynthesis and a healthy crop. And when they are making fruit, tomato plants require a lot of water to keep the juice fruit plump and flavorful.
Tomatoes need regular feeding when they reach the stage where they start to produce flowers. Feeding before this point will not help produce fruit faster and can cause plants to get too big and bushy. Waiting till the flowers start to form will ensure the fertiliser goes to making a bumper crop for you to harvest. Choosing one balanced with Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium regarding fertiliser would be best. Our experts recommend looking for one with a nutrient ratio of 10-30-15, 15-20-15, or similar.
The final care tip many home gardeners in Australia fail to consider is the importance of airflow. Tomatoes need a lot of water, so moisture and humidity around the plant can become an issue; Stem rot, root rot, fungus, and other issues can become a problem. To avoid this, you should thin out your tomato plants before the flowers form so that there is good airflow. This ensures there are fewer moisture and humidity issues and gives ample room for the tomatoes to grow. You can prune your roses and other plants while working on thinning and cutting back your tomato plants if you want.
4. Supporting and training your tomatoes
There are four main types of supports you can use for your tomato crop:
- Cages: These write cages fit over and around your tomato plant and provide support. It allows the plants to grow around the cage more naturally, but the plants need to be kept small enough to still be supported by your cage size.
- Stakes: Wood or metal stakes can be anchored along the plant’s stem, and you can tie your plant to the stake as the tomato plant grows. It allows for more freedom in growth, but overall size can be an issue when it gets too big for your chosen stake.
- Trellises: Common for vining plants, some species of tomatoes can be grown on a trellis. They work like a mix of a cage and trellis, and plants can be tied to it as they grow in height and spread, but much more care is involved to keep the plants secure.
Tomatoes are popular plants because they are fast growing and produce large crops. However, they are prone to a number of pests and diseases that can put an end to an entire crop if they are not controlled. Common issues to watch for with your Perth tomato plants include:
- Looper Caterpillars
- Spider Mites
- Root-Knot Nematode
- Blossom Rot
- Root Rot
- Wilt Virus
- White Flies
- Fungal Gnats
The easiest way to guard against these common issues is to ensure your tomato plants are given ideal growing conditions. Using organic pest control products and natural deterrents like companion plants and beneficial insects can help you guard your plants without using harmful chemicals on your crop.
5. Harvesting and storage
Aside from unique varieties like Green Zebra that are meant to be harvested and eaten while still green, all tomatoes are ready to be harvested when they reach their ripe colour and softness. Also, they should pull off the stem easily with minimal force and no need to twist or break it.
If you need to harvest before your tomatoes are fully ripe, cut a portion of the stem off with the fruit so it can continue to get some nutrients for a couple of days more. All tomatoes must be stored in a cool, dry, dark place. Avoid moisture and keep out of direct sunlight once you have harvested.
Growing your own tomatoes in your backyard is a fun and rewarding experience. It allows new gardeners and experts to produce large quantities of fresh food at home. Doing this can help increase your access to fresh produce, which is especially helpful for those living in areas without easy access to fresh food. By growing your own tomatoes, you can ensure your family has access to tasty and nutritious food.
How do Perth’s seasonal changes impact tomato growth?
Perth is a great place to grow tomatoes in a backyard garden. The warm weather and climate are perfect for these crops, but the seasonal changes mean that cooler months are not good for these heat-loving plants.
Are there specific tomato varieties that are native to Perth or have originated from the region?
A plant commonly known as Wild Tomatoes grows in the Perth area and other areas in Australia. Most are not actually edible and not suited for home gardens.
How can gardeners in Perth adapt global tomato-growing techniques to local conditions?
Paying attention to local climates and weather patterns is critical for your tomato crop to be the best it can be. Consider all growth factors and see what you can do to meet these needs.