One of the widest grown, easiest, and most satisfying fruits you can grow.
There are many different varieties, shapes sizes and colours.
They can be:
- Grown indoors
- Grown outdoors
- Grown as a Bush
- Grown as a Cordon (Vine)
All the varieties are very tasty and there is no waste as they can be eaten as a salad, cooked, or made into delicious soups and chutneys for longer storage.
There are two methods for growing Tomatoes; Bush (determinate) or Cordon (indeterminate), this is dependant on the variety you are growing.
Varieties can grow happily in a pot growbag or hanging basket reaching a modest height, but wider than Cordons. A variety named totem can be grown on a windowsill in a large pot. They require little maintenance except watering and feeding some support may be necessary of the fruiting trusses become too heavy with fruit. Bush varieties can even be grown upside down this is an excellent way to grow them if you have little space and the plants are kept healthy and well-watered as the water is soaked directly into the roots. For a hanging basket, varieties such as Tumbling Tom, Tumbler or tumbling Tom Yellow are perfect and the small cherry tomatoes are delicious.
Tomato seeds are widely available to buy in our Garden Centres or you could purchase plants, which is perfect, should you wish to grow more than one variety, or have left it until now to sow.
(A fruit tree trained to grow on a single stem) tomatoes are taller plants that can grow up to a height of 6ft they require tall supports and are ideal for growing in a greenhouse or can be grown successfully outdoors in a sunny spot in either the ground or larger pots. They grow tall and narrow and are useful when space is limited such a in a greenhouse.
These are usually grown with the support of a frame of canes or strings hung from a horizontal support. Tomatoes do not twine themselves and need to be tied or the string twisted around the stem to support them at regular intervals and require regular feeding watering, tying in and side-shoot removal.
Once the plant has reached 7-8 trusses or had reached to top of its support remove the growing point at the top of the plant as a taller plant will not necessarily produce more fruit. Tomatoes are vigorous plants that produce side shoots these can be seen between the stem and the leaf axis these should be removed “pinched out” as they will not produce fruit and will stop air flow through the leaves which may cause mildew, as well as using up water and vital nutrients required for successful fruiting.
Tomatoes are happy in any multi-purpose compost but the compost from a grow bag has been specially formulated to grow tomatoes and other salad vegetables. Tomatoes love to be planted in warm soil if you are planting in the garden or greenhouse warm the soil by covering it with black plastic for about a week. This also helps to prevent transplant shock (yes, it is real thing).
If you are growing Cordon tomatoes in pots use the compost from the growbag or alternatively if you are growing Bush varieties, you can always grow them in the bag which is what they were originally designed for a maximum of 3 tomatoes per bag.
To encourage stronger root systems, tomatoes can be planted deeper up to the first set of leaves as the hairs along the stem will become roots enabling the plant not only to take up more water but by anchoring the roots it becomes more stable and self-supporting.
Tomatoes are self-fertile, you only need 1 plant, but to encourage the pollen to move from one part of the flower to another a cross breeze in a greenhouse is ideal. This not only helps will pollination but also helps the stems to strengthen by moving slightly with the breeze this effect can also be obtained by running your hand gently over the top leaves. To aid with pollination you can also gently tap the flowers to enable a distribution of pollen on fully open flowers, alternatively you could mist the flowers gently with a hand misting spray.
Tomatoes love consistency especially where watering is concerned. Inconsistent watering can lead to problems such as blossom end rot and fruit splitting. Which makes the fruit in-edible and prone to going off. It is better for the plant to water deeply directly to the roots keeping moisture away from the leaves which may lead to the spread of tomato blight and mildew.
A plastic bottle can be placed into the soil next to the tomato plant with holes drilled in the side facing the tomato, The water will be exactly where required deep in the rooting zone.
When planting Tomatoes it is always best to use a mulch such as Strulch a light and easy to use garden mulch made from wheat straw for organic gardening. It helps to keep moisture win the soil as it cuts down on evaporation and cuts down on the chances of blight as the top of soil layer will remain dry and stops water from bouncing up onto the leaves.
Tomatoes are hungry plants and require a feed which is high in phosphorous. Feed once the first flowers have set if you feed before your plants will put on a growth spurt and become leggy. When your plants have set the first trusses, begin feeding with a liquid tomato feed once every 7-10 days
- Nitrogen - Promotes continuous growth of foliage.
- Phosphorous - Good for root and fruit development. Also helps fight stress.
- Potassium - Promotes continuous growth, aids photosynthesis and makes the plant less susceptible to some diseases.
- Calcium - Good for root and leaf growth. Also helps produce firm tomatoes.
- Magnesium - Helps keep the plant green; improves flowering and fruit quality.
- Boron and Zinc - Flowering and even ripening of the fruit.
Tomatoes start to ripen from mid-summer onwards, depending on the variety, weather conditions and fruit size. Smaller cherry tomatoes ripen more quickly than larger fruits, and greenhouse tomatoes usually start cropping earlier than those outdoors, and continue for longer, well into autumn.
- Keep feeding until the final truss has well set tomatoes appearing.
Check plants every few days and pick tomatoes individually, with the stalk still attached as soon as they’re ripe. There is a small hinge at the top of the stalk when the fruit is ripe it will come away from the stem easily without pulling.
Once you have your Tomatoes in the bowl… give them a wash and just eat! Alternatively Slice, Dice and Cook to your hearts content!