How To Grow Tomatoes
Savour the superior flavour of home grown tomatoes
You can start growing tomatoes from seed sown from late March to April in a good seed compost. Our plant expert Paul says “I use John Innes seed compost, it has just the right amount of nutrients plus added grit for drainage to avoid damping-off disease”. When the tomato seeds have germinated, prick them out into individual pots (7-9cm pots) using John Innes no.1 compost and grow them on. You could buy established tomato plants from Hayes in late March which will be ready to plant & will give you a head start. You can plant these into growbags, large pots with John Innes no.2 or straight into the soil in a greenhouse then they can be watered in. Whichever method you use, ensure that the top of the rootball is just below a thin layer of compost & that you have good drainage. Tomatoes plants must be kept free from frost, so in March/April they will need a heated greenhouse but from May onwards an unheated greenhouse will be fine, make sure it has good ventilation & some shade from hot sun. You can also grow them on a sunny/sheltered south-facing patio from June onwards.
Growing Tomatoes Summary
Care-: use canes for supporting the main stem, if not they will snap under the weight of the tomatoes. Nip out the side shoots as they appear between the leaf and the stem. Once four flowering trusses of tomatoes have formed nip out the growing tip of the main stem so that the plant will put its energy in production of fruit. Tomatoes grown in growbags or pots should be watered at regular intervals not irregularly (e.g. so if you water them in the mornings always do it then) this will help stop blossom end rot. After the trusses have formed feed the plants with every second watering, use tomorite tomato food or potash.
Tried and tested varieties -: Alicante, Shirley, Gardeners Delight and Moneymaker. Alternatively try new grafted tomatoes which have up to 75% more fruit. They produce at least one extra fruiting truss per plant and have a longer harvest with bumper crop, greater resistance to pest and disease and can be grown indoors or outside. They are perfect for small gardens or patios & are excellent value for money. If you are limited for space, why not try a hanging basket tomato such as Tumbler? It doesn’t need a cane, will cascade down and produce lots of tasty cherry sized fruits. Just water and feed as tomatoes grown in pots.
Nothing tastes better than growing your own!