Growing tomatoes

The Diggers Club pioneered the heirloom tomato movement in Australia over 20 years ago.

Each year we grow tomato plants in our trial gardens and rate them for flavour, appearence and yield. Only the best make it through our selection process to be offered for sale as heirloom tomato seeds.

Why grow heirloom tomato varieties?
Heirloom tomatoes have been saved in backyard gardens for generations and hold a continuous link to our gardening heritage. They produce fruit for months on end, taste better and produce high yields- Tigerella produces up to 20kg in a season!

Supermarket hybrid tomatoes are usually dwarf bushy varieties which are easy to machine harvest and bred for long distance travel. The flavour of these rock hard hybrids are a constant source of disappointment for consumers. 

Melbourne's first Tomato Taste Test

At this years Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show we hosted Melbourne's first Tomato Taste Test. 40 judges put their taste buds to the test. The tomatoes were divided into four categories- cherry tomatoes, salad tomatoes and tomatoes for slicing and of course, tomatoes for making sauces.

Our top heirloom tomato seeds...and the winners are...

Equal 1st - Tomato Pink Bumble Bee

Rated number one for flavour at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show, Pink Bumble Bee deserves a place in every vegie garden. The fruits are harvested throughout the summer months and are unbeatable in salads.

Part of the Artisan Tomato range, this open pollinated variety sets the standard for ‘heirlooms of the future’. Holds on the vine for an extended period without cracking but is best picked and eaten early and often!

Equal 1st - Tomato Tommy Toe

Winner of our taste test in '93 when Victorian garden guru, Kevin Heinz said it was the best tomato he'd tasted in 50 years!

This Diggers favourite was equal 1st again in 2015. Tommy Toe grew from mislabelled Seed Savers stock to rave reviews around the world. Harvest fruit in 10 to 12 weeks from transplanting out the seedlings.

2nd - Tomato Green Zebra

Bred by the creator of hundreds of modern heirloom tomatoes, Tom Wagner, Green Zebra has an in-built marker that produces yellow stripes indicating when it is ripe.

Crack-resistant fruits have zingy flavour, it ripens early and the colour confuses the pests. One of the most beautiful modern heirlooms, it's already considered a classic. Fruits in 11 weeks from transplant and yields up to 13.6kg per plant.

3rd - Tomato Red and Black

As black as a blackberry but with juicy red flesh, Red and Black is unlike any other tomato. Its indigo blue skin ripens to jet black and is packed full of anti-oxidants.

This most striking heirloom brings tomatoes closer to the nutrition of blueberries and lifts their plate appeal, just as blueberries balance the red of strawberries.

Fact sheet- growing tomatoes

Want to find out how to grow tomatoes? We've put together this tomato growing fact sheet to help explain how to sow tomato seeds, planting, training and on-going care to ensure you get a bumper harvest.

Q & A- Growing tomatoes

Our Diggers Club garden experts answer your top questions on growing tomatoes in this growing tomatoes Q&A. Find out which fertilisers to use, the best trellis system and how much water tomatoes need. 

Downloadable Tomato Taste Test Worksheet

Conduct your own tomato taste at home with Diggers!

Simply download our Tomato Taste Test at Home Worksheet, invite your friends and family around and taste away! The worksheet features Diggers very own Taste Test Criteria used to evaluate fruit and vegetables grown in our gardens. Download now.

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Growing tomato tips

Home gardeners can grow tomatoes from seeds or seedlings. Tomatoes are grown over the warmer months, as they dislike frosts.

Growing tomatoes from seed

- Sow tomato seeds in punnets, jiffy pots or coir pots. Seeds are sown 5 to 6 weeks before you want to plant them in the ground

- Place in a warm, well lit spot to germinate, taking care not to let them dry out

- Once the seeds have germinated make sure they get enough light to avoid becoming 'leggy'. Start watering them with a weak solution of liquid fertiliser

- When seedlings have developed their second set of leaves, transplant the young plants into larger tubes until they are big enough to plant in the garden

Growing tomato seedlings

- Tomato seedlings are planted out into a well prepared soil once the chance of frost is over and the soil temperature is about 18-20 degrees

- Space plants 1m apart to ensure good air flow and provide enough room for support for tall varieties

- Watering with drip irrigation will avoid water splashing onto the leaves and disease setting in

- Mulch to keep root cool and to reduce soil evaporation

- Feed tomato plants throughout the season to ensure a beautiful crop

Join The Diggers Club to find out more

The Diggers Club is Australia's largest gardening club and we are here to help our members grow beautiful and productive gardens. 

As a Diggers Club member, you can login and view our seed sowing video and read fact sheets on growing tomatoes. 

Club membership starts at just $59 for 12 months, or you can join with our current special offer here. Members receive seasonal magazines each year, discounts on all of our products plus free offers throughout the year. 

Planting your mail order heirloom tomato seedlings

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