05 November 2012

Ian Gawler Blog: Back a winner

Melbourne Cup week. Spring is in the air. Horses, racing, glamour – and the traditional time for the major veggie planting in Melbourne. So this week in the garden, along with heaps of other things, the tomatoes went in and I will share with you a great secret – how to grow super tasty, organic tomatoes really easily. But first

Thought for the Day
To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour
                                   William Blake  

I love gardening. I started with my mother before I can remember and continued on with my grandmother after mother died. My grandparents were old school. They had no financial imperative to cultivate a veggie garden; it was just what they did. It came naturally, like common sense and being kind.

From early teenage I delighted in providing the muscle, digging over the grandparents back yard, carting compost from under the huge fig tree, rearranging plants and soil and paths according to Granny’s instructions.

Tomatoes were always a focal point. However, when I began to run my own veggie garden I found time a real issue. Granny regularly pruned her tomatoes, nicking out the transverse buds and tying the main leaders to stakes. Miss doing this for a few days and it all turns ugly pretty quickly.

Here then is the answer. A little preparation, and lots of tomatoes!

1. Buy tomato seedlings in punnets late winter and transplant them into small individual pots. Keep in a glass house or somewhere warm and light. Move outside a few days before planting to acclimatise.

If this is not possible, buy your seedlings in a punnet or advanced pots a few days before planting and leave outside to acclimatise.

2. If necessary, prepare the bed for the tomatoes about a month before planting. However, I often use the Esther Dean method of planting into compost nestled in the mulch, which takes no preparation – see some broccoli below, about a month after being planted this way(garlic at the back).

However, this year I dug over the tomato beds, adding compost, some gypsum and lime.

3. Here is the trick. Use two sections of wire to contain the tomatoes as they grow - and do away with the need to prune or tie them.

On one side I use an old gate – courtesy of the farm we live on – as shown.

On the other side I use wire netting with big holes (sheep netting). However, you could easily just use two sections of netting supported by suitable stakes driven into the ground.

4. Then simply plant the tomatoes between the fencing as shown, water as needed.      

As the plants grow, they branch out, and are supported by the fencing and each other.

All you need to do now is wait for ripening, and do the picking by putting your hand through the wire mesh.

Easy as that.

Later in the season I will show you what happens here. I use the same technique for dahlias, a wire fence on one side (for dahlias you could use a solid fence), and the open sheep wire mesh on the other side.

Anyone got any other good tricks? Share via the comments section.

Enjoy those tomatoes. Back a winner. Nothing like the home grown stuff!



There are only 2 weeks before the Gawler Foundation's conference Profound Healing - Sustainable Wellbeing. This year the Foundation has collaborated with The Sebel Albert Park and Organic Wholefoods to bring you an Organic Vegetarian Feast including morning tea, afternoon tea and lunch.

Whether you are living with chronic illness, are interested in general health and wellbeing, or you are a health professional, there is something for you and your future health and wellbeing.

* Having trouble sleeping?                * Has your sexual wellbeing been affected by chronic illness?
* Living with chronic pain?                 * Need some guidance regarding nutrition? 
* Affected by depression?                 * Interested in the latest treatment advances?         
* Struggling with motivation?             * Confused about natural & complementary therapies?

Be educated, inspired and empowered by 21 impressive speakers. Take away practical tools and techniques to improve your health and the health of others.

Speakers include Petrea King, Lauren Burns, Dr Craig Hassed, Prof Avni Sali, Nicole Bijlsma, myself and many more.
Full program detail  Sat 17th - Sun 18th November 2012

BOOK NOW online  and explore new pathways to health and wellbeing. See you at the conference.
Feel free to forward these details to friends, family and colleagues you think might be interested in this event.

For further information, please contact  Ph: 1300 651 211  
or  E: info@gawler.org 


  1. Beautiful garden - great blog! Thankyou

  2. Thanks Ian, what varieties of tomatoes do you recommend?