Grow your Own Tomatoes
You cannot beat the taste and satisfaction of home grown tomatoes. Get seeds growing now, or if you can, get your hands on some ready started ones. If you have room, the next few weeks is a good time to plant. There are many varietites, so the fun starts with choosing the variety you wish to grow -
-Cherry tomatoes such as 'sungold' or 'gardeners delight' are small and sweet.
-Salad varieties such as 'shirley', 'alicante' or 'moneymaker' are bigger and are good all rounders.
-Beefsteak tomatoes are bigger and tend to be meatier - 'big boy' and 'super marmade' are popular varietites.
-Plum tomatoes are smaller and oval and tend to be fleshier than cherry tomatoes. They are perfect for around pasta and for making sauce!
There are many other varieties, the ones listed are the more popular. There are also heritage varieties, tumbling tomatoes and grafted stock that should grow stronger plants with heavier crops.
Grow in pots and tubs, in the ground or in hanging baskets. Use a good quality multi purpose compost when potting. Tomatoes will grow well in growbags - put no more than three plants per bag and there will be enough goodness for them for a season. Individual growbags are also available if you want just one plant. Remember that tomatoes are not hardy plants, so if you are planting outdoors, protect from any late frosts or very cold nights.
Tomato growpots are an excellent way of growing - plant in the centre of the ring, water in the outer ring and fertilise in the inner ring. This is the most effective way of growing.
Make sure you support your plant - tie loosely to canes. Tomatoes will grow best under cover, but can be grown outdoors, where they will require protection from wind. Keep regularly watered and feed with tomato food such as tomorite fortnightly.
Side shoots should be removed from upright varietites to encourage fruit growth. Once your plant has seven trusses (or it hits the greenhouse roof!), then chop the growing tip off the plant. This will encourage fruit development. We recommend doing this after four trusses are set if growing outdoors.
A natural way to protect your tomatoes from bugs is to plant 'tagetes' or 'marigolds' around the base of the plant. The smell will deter greenfly and other bugs, while also adding colour!
With regular feed and water you will have a bumper crop of tasty tomatoes in no time. Enjoy!