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