West Carlston Garden Centre, Campsie Road, Torrance, Glasgow G64 4EZ, Tel: 01360 620248

Tomato Growing information
Click here for info on the varieties we stock
Growing Tomatoes in the Greenhouse: Planting under glass is best for tomatoes (but they will grow on a balcony or patio - see below).
If you have a greenhouse or conservatory to grow plants then it's time to plant up tomatoes for an early crop. The modern way to ensure a huge crop is with a "pillow of enriched compost in which the roots can happily thrive" - what a fancy description of a Grow bag!
If you want to adopt this method of growing, then the Levington Tomorite Grow Bag or Giant Planter with Seaweed is ideal.
For organically grown salads the new Miracle-Gro Organic Choice Peat Free Giant Planter is for you. It is fully enriched with organic plant foods to encourage strong growth and heavy cropping.

Growbag / Planter: Simply cut out 3 holes in the top of the growbag or planteras marked.
Water well gefore planting.
Put a Tomato plant in each space.
Attach each tomato plant to the support you intend using - this can be a cane or wire or twine.
Water regularly and feed as per the instructions on your Tomato fertilizer.

Ring Culture DiagramRing Culture: Before Grow Bags came on the scene Tomato plants were planted either, directly into the soil, or ring culture was used. Planting directly into the soil was precarious as the young plants often picked up disease or were more prone to attack by pests. The soil therefore needed sterilizing or replacing each year.
Ring culture involves either digging out a 6" shallow trench in the greenhouse border or building a 6" high wooden frame on top of the border (or on top of slabs). Either way, line with polythene and fill in with gravel to form a "gravel bed"*.
A 9" "bottomless" pot is filled with soil, planted with a young tomato plant and the pot is then placed on top of the gravel bed.
Tomato plants grow 2 "sets of roots", short ones for taking in fertilizer and longer ones that go looking for water.
The shorter ones remain in the pot so we apply liquid fetilizer to the pot to feed the plant.
The longer ones grow into the gravel and therefore we water the tomato plant via the gravel bed.
N.B. The bigger the gravel bed the more water it holds, the less chance of the tomatoes drying out.

Growing tomatoes Outside: Growing tasty tomatoes on patios, terraces and balconies is great fun for all ages. As the tomato plant is a tropical foreigner to these shores it's worth remembering that they don't like cold nights and are quickly killed by frosts, so it's risky to plant them outside without protection before the end of May. Be sure to place your plants in a sunny position. Don't expect the same crop as in a greenhouse.

Other points and tips: Visit us from mid March onwards to buy young plants.
Nowadays, tomatoes come in all shapes, sizes and colours - we like the following.
'Ailsa Craig' or 'Moneymaker' are still good varieties for traditional sized fruit .
'Shirley' is the best of the newer F1 varieties as far as we are concerned. The trusses are closer together so you can get an extra truss in your greenhouse.
'Roma' is recommended for a plum type.
Beefsteak is our choice of larger tomato.
'Alicante' is probably the best for growing outdoors.
If you prefer the smaller bite-size cherry tomatoes then the yellow 'Sunbaby' is hard to beat for taste, while the red 'Gardener's Delight' will produce more tomatoes per plant.
For Bush tomatoes we recommend 'Totem' or 'Tiny Tim' - 'Micro Tom' is even smaller and is ideal for a window ledge.
'Tumbling Tom' is a trailing variety which will do very well in hanging basket or tall pot - we stock red and yellow varieties.

If you can, use one of the new Giant Tomato Planters. Growbags contain less than 40 Litres of peat and very little feeding. Planters contain over 50 Litres of proper compost with much more feeding.

Whatever variety you choose, buy three plants for every growing bag you intend to use. These young plants can either be potted on into slightly bigger pots filled with a rich potting compost such as Levington Container & Hanging Basket Compost or Miracle-Gro All Purpose Growing Compost or put directly into Grow Bags. Keep the Grow Bag or compost moist while the young plants grow big and strong over the next few weeks - feed regularly.

Due to popular demand from our customers we get the first of our
Tomato Plants in early - usually mid-March. Tomatoes can tolerate a fair degree of cold (but not frost). Many of our customers take advantage of this fact and plant up
one growbag early in the season to get a head start. This can work even in an unheated greenhouse, just cover the tomatoes with fleece if frost threatens but frost rarely penetrates a greenhouse by mid-March. If it works you get an early crop - if it doesn't you haven't lost too much. Why not give it a try?

When the tomato plants have reached about 2-3 trusses pinch out any side shoots that appear - this prevents the plant reverting to a bush form. See diagram on the right.
A side shoot is one that appears in the angle between the main stem and a leafy branch.
Start to feed well with a good quality tomato food such as Tomorite once the first small tomatoes appear.

A single Tomato flower.
A "Truss" is just a bunch of Tomato flowers on a single "branch" - see bottom of page
Once pollinated each flower in a truss will form into a young Tomato as the petals wither and fall off.
Each Tomato will swell and grow, hence the need for regular watering and fertilizer
A Tomato fertilizer (one high in Potassium) is needed to produce the red colour as the Tomato matures.
The BBC site's advice on Tomato Growing

Tomato Food

Levington Gro-Bag.
The original Gro-Bag

The Giant Planter
contains more
material than a std
Grow Bag so can
hold more water and
contains more feeding
I hope you you have found these information sheets helpful as a basic guide.

Click here for info on the varieties of Tomato we stock
A Tomato "Truss"

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West Carlston Garden Centre & Tea Room, Campsie Road, Torrance, Glasgow, G64 4EZ
Tel: 01360 620248 -:- e-mail: info@westcarlston.com