- Tomatoes are incredibly popular in allotments and vegetable patches all over the world and there is a very good reason for this. Not only are they incredibly tasty and versatile they are surprisingly easy to grow. With well over 600 varieties from small to large, vine to bush and red to yellow we are now more so than ever spoilt for choice and there will be a variety to suit your growing conditions and taste.
- They will need to grow in full sun and in a protected space
- In cooler climates such as the UK, unless the variety is an outdoors variety the majority of tomatoes will need to be grown under the protection of a greenhouse or poly tunnel.
- Indeterminate/Corden varieties are sometimes known as vine varieties. This is because they grow from one tall individual vine and you remove the side shoots in order to keep it from bushing out. They will need to grow up a support trellis normally a bamboo cane or a tomato trellis.
- Determinate/Bush tend to grow slightly smaller and bush out to a determined size. You will not have to prune or remove the side shoots with determinate/Bush varieties. These will not have to be grown up a trellis support.
Sowing and Growing
- Tomatoes need warmth of 17C to germinate so don’t be tempted to sow too early unless you live in a warm climate. To extend your growing season if you live in a cooler climate you can sow in small pots or seed modules undercover or on a windowsill.
- In cooler climate sow undercover in early spring or sow outside in late spring.
- Once your seedlings develop true leaves they can be planted in their final growing position. Make sure the minimum temperature when you are planting out is no lower than 10C.
- It is a good idea to harden off seedlings for a week before planting outside. Leave the plant outside during the day and then bring it back inside during the night time.
- Tomatoes are hungry plants and will need a feed once a week when the flowers start to form.
- Tomatoes will need to be planted in the warmest, sunniest, most sheltered part of the garden. This is normally the greenhouse in a cooler climate.
- If you are growing a vining tomato space the plants 40cm apart.
- If you are planting a bush variety space the plants 30-90cm apart depending on how large the variety is.
- Snip off the bottom leaves when you are planting out your tomatoes. This will allow you to plant out the tomato deep burying most of the stem. This will allow the plant to develop a much better root system.
- When watering tomatoes the key is consistency especially is they are in containers or grow bags. Inconsistent watering can lead to blossom end rot which causes the underside of the fruit to turn brown. A watering aid such as ollas or watering spikes are always useful when growing tomatoes.
- Trim off the top of your vining varieties once it either reaches the greenhouse roof or develops 7 trusses
- Tomatoes can take anywhere from 14-22 weeks from sowing to harvest depending on weather conditions and the variety sown.
- As soon as the fruits are ripe they must be picked as they will not store on the vine.
- If it is heading to the end of the season and a frost is forecast, if you still have unripe fruits pick them and leave in a basket of straw in a cool but not cold location to ripen.
- You can also store with a ripe apple or banana to ripen.
- As mentioned there are over 600 varieties to choose from so please do your research to make sure you select the best variety for your garden, climate, space, taste and time.
- Here are a few of my top picks:
- Vine: Outdoor girl, Money Maker, ferline, Shirley, Alicante, Fantasio
- Plum: Olivade, Sweet Olive, Roma, San Marzano, Summer Sweet
- Cherry: Gardeners Delight, Sun Baby, Sun Cherry, Black Cherry, Sunset, Golden Sweet
- Beef stake: Mamande, Country Taste, Brandy Wine
- Stripped: Tigerella
- Hanging Basket: Tumbler, Tom Red, Tumbling Tom Yellow
- Bush: Tornado, Totem, Red Alert