Growing Tomatoes with Greg
General Manager of Skylark.
Growing Tomatoes is so rewarding and when done right you will have more tomatoes than you can shake a stick at. There are a few key things to get right then the rest of the process is just a step by step guide
Select your varieties.
So yes you can buy tomato seeds, seed trays, vermiculite and labels everything you will need to grow from seed but if your growing just a few tomato plants best to buy an already grown tomato plant. Great garden centres like skylark will have most varieties and habits you could want in your garden to get you set right from the get go.
What type of tomatoes would you like to grow:
- Globe tomatoes (this is the most common type of tomato that you would company find in supermarkets and slide for sandwiches and chop for salads
- Cherry tomatoes (small but full of flavour, Great for eating straight of the plant)
- Plum tomatoes (Great for sauces, lower water content and making them more fleshy)
- Beef tomatoes ( as the name suggests beefy and juicy perfect for slicing and using with salads and starters)
All have different flavours and versatility but my favourites are tumbling tom red (cherry Tomato, my daughter picks these straight from the plant in the summer) Money maker (a great globe variety that just gives and gives) and a novelty tomato called Tigerella pictured below it has stipes hence the name.
Where to begin
So where do you want you tomatoes to grow. Some growers will have a greenhouse, some will have a sunny spot in the garden and some will have a partly shaded no used corner. All of these are perfect for growing tomatoes albeit they will all need slightly different care. Ill cover this later in the process.
So you have decided where you want to grow you tomatoes, now what would you like to grow them in. Believe it or not any container will do so long as you have some depth to the growing container. Watch out for the step of planting your tomatoes as to why.
I have used plant pots, growbags and planted straight into a raised bed and all have worked fine.
Prepping your growing container and planting
I grow in grow bags to save buying more pots just to stack back into my shed at the end of the year. And once I’m finished with the growbag I add the compost to my raised beds.
When planting in a grow bag make sure to beat up the bag abit, compost bags have generally been sat on a pallet for a few months so are quite compact and tomatoes do not like this so give it bash and loosen up all the compost.
Place the growbag in the area you are going to use. Most growbags will have 3 patches to cut out and that’s perfect for the tomatoes. So cut out the patches and make a hole in each of these areas. Tap the tomato plant out of the growing pot being careful not to damage the stem that has hairs covering it.
Place in the hole and lightly firm the compost around the tomato plant, Plant the tomato a few centimetres deeper cover the stem abit, as this will help anchor and root the tomato plant into the soil.
That’s it, tomato plant in that’s the big first step now for just a few more
Getting ready to support your plants.
There is several options here, but the main aim is to start the process of getting ready to support your tomato plants. Most tomatoes will grow very tall if you let them but you will need to prep for a height of around 6ft for your tomato plants if there not tumbling or compact varieties. This can be done by doing some of the following :
- Building a wigwam from just a few canes
- Put in a vertical string line
- Supporting a single cane with support
I find the best way is to tie a piece of string around the growbag to hold the string in place and tie this above the tomatoes using a hanging basket bracket on a fence of wall or to the ceiling of your greenhouse if your growing under glass.
Ongoing Care while growing
As you tomato plants grow remove any side shoots, you want to grow 1 main stem straight upward. This will yield the best results for your tomatoes. As side shoots emerge just pinch off the plant and discard
If using the string method for support as the tomato plant grows wind the string around the plant so the string sits under a leaf.
For best results I always find that growing my tomato plants to have around 5 to 6 fruit trusses is best then at this point I pinch off the top of the plant to stop further growth
Once your first 2 trusses of tomatoes start to form this is the time to start feeding. I use Tomorite to feed my tomatoes on a weekly basis. Please follow the instructions on the back of and plant food to yield the best results.
Once your Tomato plants have grown and your tomatoes are showing this is the time to remove some leaves. Tomatoes need sunlight to ripen well so if you truss of tomatoes is covered over by a big leaf or 2 just simply remove from the stem by cutting off the leaf. This will allow sunlight to get to the tomatoes and ripen them.