Tips on growing tomatoes
In this blog I want to share with you my tips on growing tomatoes.
Maybe you consider yourself an expert? But I find no matter how experienced a gardener you are there is always something to learn from others. I hope that you’ll pick up just one or two ideas here!
I must be hard wired to think of summer as soon as I handle the first tomato plant of the spring!
There are few plants that shout “summer is on the way” as effectively as brushing the leaves of the tomato.
So with that in mind I thought I’d share a few of my tips on growing tomatoes with you!
Tomatoes are also one of the most popular and rewarding of all vegetables to grow.
You’ll find tomatoes growing on the allotment, in a greenhouse, and a poly tunnel.
Find them also in a glazed porch, conservatory, hanging basket, patio, balcony and even in some offices!
But faced with growing them for the first time there are so many options that perhaps we more experienced growers take for granted.
Even the most experienced gardeners among you might pick up a tip or two about growing tomatoes as I know that I never stop learning new ways!
Top tips for growing tomatoes –
- Choose and grow a variety that is going to give the best flavour.
- Don’t start too soon – but sowing late can be equally disastrous.
- Sow the seeds with a deep 6 mm covering of compost – this is deeper than for most other seeds.
- Always use new trays and pots or thoroughly clean old ones.
- Germinate seed in fresh seed compost.
- Maintain at least 21 C warmth to germinate.
Potting up and growing on
- Pot seedlings on into individual 9 cm pots as soon as the seed leaves open.
- Use fresh good quality potting compost.
- Never handle tomato seedlings by their tender stems – hold by those seed leaves.
- Grow them on in where you have the very best light.
- Grow young plants on inside on a bright window if you don’t have a greenhouse.
- You can drop the temperature by a few degrees now.
Planting them out
- Plant them out into final positions only when the first flower is opening.
- Keep your plants warm and sheltered from winds when young.
- Support the main stem by tying to stakes or to strings attached to the roof of greenhouses or poly tunnels. Use soft string or Flexi-Tie tubing and allow room for rapid stem thickening.
- For growing in grow bags choose the extra-large sized ones – they will be easier to water and produce better yields.
- It helps to plant into bottomless pots placed on top of the grow bags.
- If you grow them like me in bottomless pots and let them root into the soil below, use the contents of grow bags to fill the pots.
Growing them on
- If you have grown tomatoes in the same soil for many years and can’t change the soil; grow varieties grafted onto disease resistant root stocks. More on this here.
- Remove all side shoots from so called cordon varieties. [not bush or hanging basket types].
- Remove old lower leaves when they turn yellow. Don’t remove too many at once!
- I recommend that both side shoot and leaf removal this is best done early in the day when plants are turgid and when shoots are small. Avoid using a blade if you can as this can spread virus from plant to plant.
- Some thinning out of shoots maybe necessary for bush and hanging basket varieties.
Watering and Feeding
- Commence liquid feeding when you see the first fruit appearing.
- Feed with a diluted specific tomato liquid feed every 10 to 14 days and continue feeding until the end of summer. This has a high potash level which fruits need.
- Do water regularly and increase the amount given as plants get bigger and days get warmer.
Some other tips
- Getting the flowers to ‘set’ fruit can be encouraged if you gently shake the flower cluster in the middle of the day when temperature and humidity is high.
- Try the new blight resistant variety ‘Crimson Crush’ – especially if you are growing your plants outside or on an allotment.
- I’m delighted to see that Suttons Seeds now offer popular garden varieties of grafted tomato plants! They used to offer only fairly tasteless commercial varieties. These grafted plants have disease resistant rootstocks and give very much heavier yields too.
You may be interested to read what I recently wrote about sowing tomatoes here.
Whether you are growing cherry, beefsteak, plum or just ordinary tomatoes to slice as sandwich fillings, now is the time to get growing!
So with these tips on growing tomatoes – and a few of your own – I’m confident that will have a great tomato filled summer!
What variety of tomato is your favourite?
Are there tips on growing tomatoes that you would like to share with other gardeners here?