Top Tips for Tomatoes
Updated: May 6
For those of us lucky enough to have a greenhouse, it is a very busy time and a wonderful escape from lockdown. If you don’t have a greenhouse and sunny conservatory or sun filled light room can often do the same job once the weather consistently stays warm.
On that note, we’d love to see the sunshine back please! John Glazebrook is a huge vegetable gardener and he particularly enjoys growing his tomatoes. Indeed, his daughter says that when she was at boarding school, his letters detailed far more about what the tomatoes were doing than how they or the dogs were! She now understands why as it is quite a time intensive but hugely rewarding job which gives back incredibly throughout the summer with the most tasty sweet tomatoes you have ever tasted!
Remember that tomatoes are very frost tender and to grow successfully from seed they need a daytime temp of 60-70F and a minimum at night of 40F. You can get very simple - non expensive - electric heaters for your greenhouse to ensure that the temperature never drops below 40F.
Ideally you should have sown your seeds in the 2nd half of March in a tray of compost. However, it is never really too late.
When the seedlings are about 1 1/2"-2" high, prick them out into individual pots of compost.
When they reach 3-4" they will have some good leaves and should then be planted into 10" or 12" pots - either terracotta (best) or plastic. Put some broken pot or large stones in the base then, ideally, a good layer of Farm Yard Manure - readily available bagged from Garden Centres which we hope are shortly going to open - and top up with a good compost.
Plant your tomatoes and put a 6' cane (at least) in each pot to train the plant. Secure the cane at the top of your greenhouse. As the plant grows, you must pinch out any side shoots which form in the axle of each leaf.
Keep well watered and feed with Tomorite as directed - you should get a bumper crop! You may have to support heavy trusses with string to a wire if there is a likelihood of them snapping off.
Tomatoes can grow well outdoors once all sign of frost is over. Gardener's Delight is an excellent small tomato to grow outside.
If you prefer, you can buy tomato plants in many varieties from Garden Centres and they will be ready to go into their 10" or 12" pots. Happy growing!