Photo by by sophiacreek (again)
Why are Sun Gold and similar yellow varieties of tomatoes so expensive to buy?
Basically because demand outstrips supply. If you have never tasted these tomatoes, you really should try some this summer. You will be a convert.
Just imagine how much better these beautiful yellow varieties of tomato would be fresh from the vine and eaten still warm from the sun.
You can grow yellow cherry tomatoes just as easily as the big red ones, not that there is anything at all wrong with big red, home grown tomatoes. Any tomatoes you grow yourself are worth the effort.
There are three ways you can grow your own Sun Gold tomatoes:
- In grow-bags
- In containers
- In the ground
1. Growing Yellow Varieties of Tomatoes in grow bags
Most people who start to grow tomatoes grow them in grow-bags the first year. These are bags of peat or similar based compost with nutrients added to them to get your tomatoes off to a good start.
You can physically fit three or even four yellow variety tomato plants into each grow-bag. The tomatoes will then be very crowded when they are full size and liable to all kinds of fungal problems because of an inadequate air flow around the plants. It is best to grow only one or two plants in each gro-bag.
The bags are best for bush varieties, because if you sit them on a hard surface any canes you put in to support the other kind of tomatoes will not be steady enough to give enough support.
The bags also need copious amounts of water, maybe two gallons a day. They become hot, because so much of the bag is exposed to the sun.
2. Growing Yellow Varieties of Tomato in containers
Once people realize the limitations of growing either yellow or red bush varieties of tomato in gro-bags, they often grow tomatoes in large pots the next year.
You can buy 'tomato pots'. These are only about 8 inches across, though and each plant will get less root space than they have in a gro-bag. Use 4 or 5 gallon buckets with holes drilled in the base if you want to grow your Sun Gold tomatoes in containers. Use the best compost you can and, ideally use a mixture of peat and soil based composts because it dries out less easily.
Never let your container dry out totally, or you will never manage to wet the compost thoroughly again, especially if there is no soil-based compost in there.
With a container your canes will have sufficient length in the compost to give support.
Whether you are growing a yellow tomato variety or a traditional variety you should only put one plant in each container. It is best to keep the containers near the house, you are more likely to give your tomato plants the care they need if they are nearby.
3. Growing Yellow Varieties of Tomato in the Ground
The roots of Sun Gold, indeed of all varieties of tomato, extend by two feet in every direction, including down. Any tomatoes you grow in the ground are likely to do much better than those you try growing in grow-bags or containers.
Yellow Tomatoes grow best in deep beds that contain plenty of well-rotted compost. The soil should be about pH 6.5, almost neutral. If you want the optimum growing conditions for Sun Gold tomatoes it is well worthwhile buying a pH tester, either an electronic one or indicator paper strips.
Start preparing your tomato bed the year before you plan to grow them, you can always grow something else in it over the winter.
Tomatoes belong to the same family as potatoes, so the bed you choose should not have been used to grow potatoes for at least two years, preferably three if you want to reduce the chance of diseased tomato plants.
Your tomatoes need to be about three feet apart, so you will
be able to move easily between them. If they are well spaced you will also find
it easier to reach each plant to pinch out stems and to check on their general
health. Weeds will be a problem, so orgainize some mulch for between your
tomato plants this fall.As an alternative to mulch, you can use landscape paper.
You need to either double dig your tomato bed, or at least to prepare each planting position by digging in rotted compost to a depth of two feet. Preparing tomato planting pockets in this way reduces the amount of work involved, meaning that you are more likely to get around to it. Mark each pocket with a four foot cane, so you can find them again next April or May to plant your Sun Gold tomato plants in.
Apply a slow release organic fertilizer, such as blood fish and bone, to the entire tomato bed, adding extra to your planting pockets. You cannot add too much of these fertilisers because they only release their nutrients slowly.
By preparing your bed a season ahead, any compost you add should certainly be well broken down by the time your Sun Gold tomatoes are ready to go into it.
You need to stop the weeds growing in your carefully prepared tomato bed. You could cover the whole bed with black polythene, or with a water permeable weed-resistant membrane. Both will keep out light and any weeds that do germinate underneath will die. Of the two, the weed-resistant membrane is better, because it allows water in and your tomato plants will need plenty of water, you will not want to plant them in a desert, even if it is free of weeds.
Another way to keep the weeds down would be to grow a crop there. What you can plant depends on the time of year. In July you can plant peas, which do a good job of keeping down weeds because of their shrubby growth habit. In August you could plant turnips or winter cabbage or cauliflower. Leeks would grow over the winter but do not do a good job of keeping the weeds down.
In September or October plant a green manure crop that you can dig in such as mustard.