A Beginner’s Guide to Tomatoes

09 Oct, 2023

Get ready to embark on a veggie-growing adventure. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned gardener, tomatoes are the perfect starter veggie plant. Once you experience the satisfaction of growing your own, you'll be eager to expand your vegetable patch.

Tomatoes are a gardener's favourite, offering abundant rewards with only a bit of love and care. With numerous colours available including red, orange, purple, green, and yellow, tomatoes bring vibrant colour to your garden, along with delicious flavour.

Sowing Seeds

If you want to explore different varieties of tomatoes and have a little bit of patience, growing from seed is a great option. Auckland's warm climate allows you to sow seeds from mid-to-late August. Plant your seeds in Yates Organic Seed Raising Mix around 5cm apart and mist gently. Once they sprout, move them to a sunny spot while keeping the soil moist. When the seedlings have developed two to three pairs of larger leaves, transplant them to bigger pots or directly into the garden.

Growing from Seedlings

For a quicker start, try tomato seedlings. Super punnets have individual pockets which ensure their roots won’t get tangled, setting them up for fast growth. Pop them out of the punnet and into your soil, and they'll quickly take off!

Buying Established Plants

Need a headstart - or a catch up? Available from mid-September, mature plants establish quickly, producing a bountiful harvest. Grafted tomatoes will grow larger than a standard tomato, and have the capacity to hold much more fruit. Tumbling tomatoes are smaller plants, ideal for pots or hanging baskets, and are almost ready for picking when you buy them.


Tomatoes grow well with at least six hours of full sun daily. Make sure your tomato plants have good airflow without harsh winds, and rotate your crops yearly, avoiding areas where tomatoes, potatoes, or eggplants grew the previous year to prevent soil-borne diseases. Tomato vines can get top-heavy, so they should be staked, held up by string, or tied to a trellis.

When growing in pots, use Kings Container Mix or Tui Tomato Mix as these mixes have water crystals for improved moisture retention, as well as slow-release fertiliser to help feed your plants. Choose a pot with plenty of space (at least 40L for a mature plant) to ensure healthy root development.

When planting directly into the garden, make sure your soil is full of nutrients. If you didn’t use compost crops over the winter, dig in some Kings Compost. Dig a hole twice as deep and wide as the pot your plant came in, adding Kings Organic Vegetable Fertiliser or sheep pellets and a blend of Kings Compost and topsoil. Firm the soil, water deeply, and leave at least a metre in between plants.


The advantage of planting in a greenhouse, is that it offers protection from insects and frost. Ensure proper ventilation to prevent fungal diseases, and rotate crops annually, or replace the top 50cm of soil with Tui Veggie Mix.

Feeding and Watering

Tomatoes are heavy feeders; start feeding them with Kings Liquid Tomato Food every two weeks once established. Water deeply around the roots, avoiding the foliage as this will prevent leaf burning and fungal diseases.


To channel energy into fruit and flower production, remove side shoots or ‘lateral’ branches. These are found sprouting at any angle between the main stem and an already-formed branch.


Pick tomatoes once they have fully ripened on the vine and turned red, or orange, or yellow (depending on the variety!). Harvest green tomatoes slightly earlier, when the tomato is showing a hint of colour at the base of the fruit. Leave a small stalk on the fruit and let them ripen in a sunny spot.

Top Varieties

Tomatoes come in a range of colours and sizes, with different tastes and culinary uses.

Here are our top picks for this spring:


Named for its large, fleshy fruit, the beefsteak tomato is ideal for slicing and using in sandwiches and burgers.

Sweet 100

These small, sweet cherry tomatoes produce an abundance of fruit (this is where the ‘100’ comes from) from late spring through to late autumn.

Money Maker

Your classic medium-sized tomato with juicy fruit. This is a prolific cropper and great for using in salads and in fresh dishes. The plant has good resistance to disease.


Delicious in soups and pastes, Roma tomatoes are oblong-shaped. The fruit ripens all at once, rather than throughout the season.

Black Krim

A striking tomato in a deep reddish-purple colour, Black Krim is popular for its sweet and juicy flesh.

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